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Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Ross Skeate Diary - It's about world domination

The Ross Skeate Diary - It's about world domination

Rugbydump columnist Ross Skeate unfortunately picked up an injury while playing for Toulon in the Top 14 recently. Ross is back writing for RD though, with his unique take on the life of a professional rugby player. The Beatles, Playboy, and taking over the world are the topics of discussion this week.

This aching knee! "Storms a comin!" After the niggle I picked up playing against Montauban - a game we won at home with the highlight being my cross-kick into Chris Loamanus hands (impressed Tana?) - putting my body on the line every weekend, I do honestly wonder sometimes if the pay is worth the Zimmer frame and chronic arthritis that old age promises me?

After all there sure is some big money around the sport at the moment!

I mean there are a few big names out there and they seem to be raking in a lot of cash. Take me for example; Im demanding 1.2 million Euro a year from our club owner Mourad Boudjellal - he didnt seem too impressed when I brought it up but I sent him a bouquet of flowers and a Playboy and Im thinking hell definitely warm up to the idea.

But never mind that, this new professional era , as the kids are calling it, seems to be moving in a very interesting direction indeed.

With the IRB at the helm and rapidly expanding the game into all corners of the globe, even rugby Sevens has finally been accepted as an Olympic sport, thus pushing the code (both the 15-man version and its younger brother, 7s) further into the limelight and arcing towards new heights of popularity and professionalism.

Some people have been talking about the game dying, and yes, there has been a lot of kicking lately (especially here in France) but those are just smaller details that in my experience have not detracted from the widespread appeal of the game.

Sure, there are the obvious questions about just how far the game shall extend, with relation to some confusing rules (ruck ball as an example although I think the refs are at as much of a loss as we the players are) and the contact element (which seems to be attracting people to it rather than vice-versa). That is in stark contrast to a relatively easily played and understood sport like soccer, or football, depending on your preference.

In some sense I do agree, but the steady expansion of the game seems to speak of other things entirely. Perhaps its a social economic thing or maybe just a social thing. But either way, the expansion is good for the economics. See what I did there?

Recent years have seen the Japanese league takeoff, the expansion of the game into African countries as well as Asian and Southern American territories.

Certainly cultures like New Zealand and South Africa will always treat the sport with an almost religious quality and if you could experience the kind of fanatical support that Toulon is famous for, you could argue that it is as much a religion here as places like Pretoria and Christchurch.

The recent performances of an extremely competent Kenyan side on the Sevens circuit as well as the growth of the game in the Russian Federation all points to the same thing - world domination.

Thats what its all about isnt it, trying to take over the world? Whether youre the Illuminati, The Beatles, Chuck Norris or Simon Cowell, its all about world domination. Bigger is certainly better and with the growth of the game at world level, the growing interest of the viewing public with subsequent demands for more viewing material and thus more television sees sponsorships and money come rolling into the game.

Allowing further resources to not only maintain that development of the sport and support of the game in younger rugby playing countries but also increase the size of the world stages that the main event is staged on, ie: the Rugby World Cup, the flagship event of the rugby world and the stage where all others flow from, whether it be the Six Nations, Tri-Nations, Heineken Cup, Super 14, or Top 14.

Its from these tournaments that the true stars of the sport are born and careers have been made. The best and most recent examples would be individuals with the Rockstar status of guys like Jonny Wilkinson, Sabastien Chabal, Jerry Collins, BOD and myself (erm, not).

Individuals who have gained such widespread appeal as sporting brands first and rugby players second, that theyre used to sell products as far reaching as fragrances to shower gels. I still find it a little strange when I see large posters of Chabal, hair all straightened and finely dressed, for some mens fragrance. He does look ruggedly handsome though.

But what does this all mean for the future?

With rugby stars taking on new levels of celebrity and the game marching towards global appeal the sport shall slowly move towards the same heights as other professional codes such as soccer (again up to you), American football (I know its an American game but its popularity cant be argued with) and basketball, to name a few.

I have no doubt that rugby will continue to aspire to those heights, and reach them.

As for the players? Expect bigger salaries, more professionalism and bigger stars of the future oh, the phones ringing so better run, fingers crossed its Mourad!

Hope this finds you all well.

Ross, who's played for the Stormers and the Barbarians, has a really interesting website that features plenty of behind the scenes photos, podcasts, and latest news on life with Toulon.

We'll hear back from him soon, but until then, check out .

Posted by Rugbydump at 10:58 am | 12 comments

Viewing 12 comments

Tom January 23, 2010 10:44 am

Funny fucker is Ross!

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QuickFox January 23, 2010 2:22 pm

Skeate's blog proves - if that still had to be proven - that the average rugby player is no longer a stereotypical dumb brute force but the refined and eloquent epistome of skill, passion, determination and ... humor.

Yes, I did like it... a bit.

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Anonymous January 23, 2010 2:51 pm


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Anonymous January 23, 2010 7:01 pm

Now that's a guy who would sell his mom for money.

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Anonymous January 24, 2010 12:03 am

major LOL

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Anonymous January 24, 2010 5:10 pm

no more pokerstars??

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Rosh January 24, 2010 7:11 pm

no more pokerstars but nice to see the donation ad for haiti. good on you RD

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The Inside Shoulder January 24, 2010 10:08 pm

Ross if you're reading this...

I like the blog....but here's a little constructive criticism, the observations you make are pretty obvious to anybody who follows rugby and the blog doesnt the position you're in justice.

I'd really like to hear more about the ins and outs of Toulon, take advantage of your position and tell me about some of the great characters and relationships you have at the club. Personal touches are what make a good blog in my opinion.

Keep up the good work though, look forward to reading the next installment.

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Hug(e-eg)o January 25, 2010 2:15 am

.......i thought he kinda did:

'I do honestly wonder sometimes if the pay is worth the Zimmer frame and chronic arthritis that old age promises me?'

'Im demanding 1.2 million Euro a year from our club owner Mourad Boudjellal - he didnt seem too impressed when I brought it up but I sent him a bouquet of flowers and a Playboy and Im thinking hell definitely warm up to the idea.'

he starts off with talking about his money demands and then talks about the economy of rugby....

etc etc, he's pretty personal there, unless you want to hear what pyjamas he wears at night.....

...he puts his spin on what he sees in todays game....talks about kicking being a small part.....which is funny because whenever im on here 99% of people wont shut up their bitching about kicking.....and here you have it kids, a real live rugby pro who says its a small part!!!!! maybe now you'll all shut up!

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FrankyH January 25, 2010 11:44 am

Great feature. Keep them coming please

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4LC4TR4Z January 25, 2010 4:24 pm

Ross, if you're reading this :

PLEEEAAASSE ! STAY IN TOULON for one more year...

(You should have sent to Mourad a rare comic strip, sure he'd had prefered it than a Playboy, sorry for you're 1,2 million euros :( )

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Anonymous January 25, 2010 9:09 pm

@ Hug(e-eg)o

yeah ok he does to some extent.

to me those were the most interesting bits though, i want more!

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