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A closer look at how Professionalism has changed Rugby

Unfortunately money could be a reason why so many seem to drop out of rugby at a young age, before they are 25? If one isn't going to make money from it, is that person asking why play at all and risk getting hurt, because other people are playing for money, and getting hurt doesn't have the same personal risk? Participation levels are down in the sport overall. How many clubs are left, amateur clubs, with extra d or c sides? How many are having to scratch to just get 15 on a pitch on Saturday? I really regret that those who ran the sport twenty years ago failed to introduce professionalism on some sort of time table, bringing pay into the game gradually, starting with the best players first, the internationals. By now there could have been the Aviva Premiership anyway, but I'd say the participation level of the sport might not have suffered had there been a real structure set up to develop a professional game in 1995. Just saying, in August of 1995, the game is now "open" was not the way to do it.
All one has to do is look at what happened in Wales a few years later to find proof that it was all done wrongly.

1 Month, 3 Days ago

A closer look at how Professionalism has changed Rugby

I agree, but you know the game is never going to go back to its total "amateur" status. Of course there were always the better players who got 'boot' money or had jobs set up for them. Most players played for not one red penny. What could have been done? If you look back there should have been allowances for the best players to become semi-professional. Pay for playing in international matches for players on the national squads would have been a good start to transition to a professional game, and that should have been done with the very first world cup. In other words, 'broken-time' pay for those leaving jobs temporarily to play the game at the highest level, and that pay could have been from the money made from ticket sales, the rear ends in seats.
Just think that the majority of rugby league players a half century back had day jobs! They got little enough in pay to have to work to make ends meet. Of course the highest administrators of the Rugby Union didn't see it that way, unfortunately, regarding union players, but those league players were at best semi-pros in the American sense of the term, as back then semi-pros in America, as there were then semi-pro basketball and softball leagues, were considered amateurs and eligible for the Olympics. NBA players weren't, because they were fully professional. All that changed of course in 1992, and there are few semi-professional players of any sport left in America today. I would hope that amateur rugby would not die because pro rugby put it out of existence, but when one sees clubs that were once two or three sides deep now only with one side, something is wrong. Participation levels are dropping for adult-level rugby.

1 Month, 3 Days ago

A closer look at how Professionalism has changed Rugby

For those who played the game for the love of it we are more than likely a bit nostalgic about how the game used to be. But just how many in rugby today are fully professional players? And just how many are playing for the fun of it as amateurs? Apparently the participation level in amateur clubs is dropping, and this is a concern. I spent a weekend in early March in the West Midlands at the home of a president of a club that has existed since 1991, so a rather 'young' club, and it had two sides. Now it has one, as some better players have quit and moved up a few divisions to clubs that pay 50 quid per game, and one made it to Gloucester. If it's happening to that club, it has to be happening to other clubs. I spent the next week in Devon, meeting socially with a few referees of that union, and was told of some clubs that are down to one senior side that had two or three in the past, in Cornwall and Devon. So, if young men (and women) see that there's no chance to make any money from the sport, are they just giving it up at age 18 or 22? In other words, why bother because one might get injured playing, and not get one thin dime out of it? Is that the current attitude in the UK and other major rugby playing nations?
I live in California, and can tell you that the game really isn't expanding in this nation, the USA, like some say, and California is and has been where the game is strongest. It has grown the last two or three decades, for those between the ages of 13 and 22, in schools, from junior highs to universities (boys and girls/ men and women). It is not growing at the men's club level. Many clubs that were three sides deep now have just one side. "Pay" still consists of setting up better players with jobs. Last year's "pro" rugby competition lasted just that one year.
It's too late now, but thirty years ago, with the first world cup, pay out of gate receipts should have been arranged for internationals, ONLY, allowing for semi-pros!

1 Month, 3 Days ago

The peculiar Vannes vs Narbonne 'no maul' stand off

The ironic thing is the team without the ball, by not BINDING, maul or ruck, are creating a case to contest and attack the ball carrier directly. Perhaps this practice is going to bring back actual contesting of ball in the loose. Counter rucking rarely occurs, and 'truck and trailer' is just legalized obstruction.

1 Month, 2 Weeks ago

The peculiar Vannes vs Narbonne 'no maul' stand off

The changes in laws are going to mean that this sort of play is the result. The ball really isn't contested anymore in the loose as it used to be. And if it was, perhaps the backs might have some space again.

1 Month, 2 Weeks ago

The peculiar Vannes vs Narbonne 'no maul' stand off

Look at the definitions of what a maul is, and what a ruck is. There needs to be binding/contact by opposing players. If there is none, then there is no ruck, or maul, and that ball is free for the side not in possession to go in and try to take away. Basically this situation, like that Italy England match, seems to be one of free play because there is no ruck or maul that has formed. By the way, one of the last penalties I gave recently was for hands in the ruck, when a player dropped her bind on an opposing player and bent over to pick up the ball that was on the ground, having been released by the tackled player on the other team. She thought she became the acting scrum half in doing so. I told her she wasn't and needed to heel the ball back.

1 Month, 2 Weeks ago

Australian rugby in 'big trouble' after a number of poor performances

It is ironic too that there were plans afoot in 1995 to sign some 500 of the best rugby union players to make up a rugby circus that would have comprised of clubs in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, by Rupert Murdoch. That threat was the straw that broke the camel's back of amateurism in the game of rugby union. I do see your point: if there are a few pro rugby union clubs in Australia, and they play so many away games in nations as far away as Argentina, South Africa, and now Japan, where is the local rivalry? League has that, and this Super Rugby doesn't. And of course league has always been the more popular of the two sports in Australia anyway, even if the union game had great success with the Wallabies in the 80's and 90's.

1 Month, 2 Weeks ago

Australian rugby in 'big trouble' after a number of poor performances

I don't know what the answer is either. Professionalism was letting the gini out of the bottle. I know you know that participation is slipping. I was just over in the UK for the majority of March, visiting Devon, Cornwall, and the Midlands as well as staying a few nights at the Marriot's in Twickenham. Great time overall, and got to referee two matches. One thing I would mention is that soccer still seems to have many adult participants, but it's a sport with the likelihood of less serious injuries, but I wouldn't want to suggest that some sort of different rugby game with a different set of rules for amateurs and professionals be the answer either. I would say, though, that the amateur game doesn't have to rely on TV adverts and rear ends in seats in the grandstand as the pro game does. Law changes have been made to make the game seem more "attractive" to watch on the TV, especially in recent years. There could be many less line outs in games now than just ten years ago because of that one law change restricting kicking into touch for anyone taking a pass from outside the 22. So there's more running, and therefore more tackling, and therefore more chance of an injury. So many set play scrums and line outs could make a game on the TV seem boring, so less of them means the ball is in play and action is occurring. I read that when New Zealand lost to LLanelli in 1972 that the ball, in 80 minutes, was actually only in play some 15 of them! The rest of the time players were either standing around or getting ready for a line out or scrum. The only injuries were from foul play, not from any tackling per se. Now we are in an age of head injuries in particular, and that's from the fact that the ball is in play more, less kicking, and there is more tackling as a result.
Now regarding Australia, even though there was all that success with union in the 80's and 90's, when things were still fairly amateur, league is still on top and more popular to play.

1 Month, 2 Weeks ago

The peculiar Vannes vs Narbonne 'no maul' stand off

Lineouts, rucks, now mauls: if ball possession isn't contested anymore, one might just want to scrap rugby union and install rugby league rules!

1 Month, 2 Weeks ago

The peculiar Vannes vs Narbonne 'no maul' stand off

Since lifting was allowed back twenty years ago, 80% of the time there is no contest for line out ball.
What's better? Having a real contest by players jumping for ball with only their feet to push off the ground, and the occasional barging and elbowing, or just letting at least 8 out of 10 line outs get "won" by the team throwing in but rarely any penalties as a result? Then this stuff happens, and it's back to 'square one.'

1 Month, 2 Weeks ago