Surviving on Scraps

Not to belittle club rugby, but what's a rugby fan to do?

2007 was a vintage Rugby year. The Super 14 was followed by warm-up internationals which overlapped the Australian Rugby Championship and the Pacific Nations Cup and then the Tri-Nations and it all triumphed in an orgasmic, if slightly disappointing given Australia's premature withdrawal, Rugby World Cup.

Too much Rugby is barely enough, so the saying, or at least the sentiment, goes. But then what is barely enough Rugby? This year, Rugby fans (perhaps as opposed to the hard yet highly valuable club core) have been tantalised and tormented with another roller coaster (ie typical and don't we love it that way) Super 14 season and then scraps of Test Rugby against second string European teams and a Tri-Nations featuring two matches in South Africa that started after the future of the game, the kiddies, had gone to bed.

Meanwhile, the Australian Rugby Championship is no more and nothing has replaced it, South Africa and the All Blacks play meaningless one-off ridiculously one-sided 'friendlies' against Argentina and Samoa respectively, but even worse, the Wallabies play no-one at all during their off weekends.

And why are there off weekends in any case? They aren't needed during Super 14 or World Cups or ARCs or club Rugby. Test Rugby is the pinnacle and it's harder and tougher for sure, but these are professional athletes playing in a modern era competing against other sports with top quality product week in and week out.

Yes yes yes. Club Rugby is important and tough and the talent is undeniable especially once the non-Wallaby Super 14 players return. But that talent is spread pretty thinly and in any case there's all of one match a week shown on TV and that's when most people aren't at home. The Currie Cup and ANZ Cup/NPC get more coverage than our homegrown club Rugby does.

For the record, the Rolling Maul may only go to a handful of club Rugby games each year, but that's more than most people who consider themselves Rugby fans. Most people who go to Super 14 matches don't watch club Rugby and that's a fact. So this rant is on behalf of all Rugby fans including the silent majority who aren't jumping up and down whinging about the state of club Rugby because they don't give a toss about it - but they might if it was on TV!

So ARU and SANZAR and NSWRU and all the TV stations and providers. Get your heads together and give us more quality Rugby and let us watch it on TV. Extend the Super 14, get that third-tier up and running, have Australia A play an extended competition, give the Wallabies more games and meaningful games and every weekend for two months, show a few club games on TV each weekend or even mid-week. Whatever it takes. Free-to-air would be great for sure but Foxtel is gagging for content judging by the garbage they show most of the time and there's ABC2 and whole bunch of HD channels no one's watching.

We're starving here and quite frankly there's plenty of other food about but it tastes like shit. Don't make us eat it.

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