Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Time for Steve Tew to go

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew speaks to the media. Photo / Getty
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew speaks to the media. Photo / Getty

Is Steve Tew really the right man to lead New Zealand Rugby into the future?

There must be serious doubts, to the point that it's time for the NZR board to consider a change. Tewie sounds like a man who has been in the job too long, who can't hear anyone else for the sound of his own thoughts. The problems are mounting, the realistic solutions almost non-existent. Fresh ideas are vital.

Tewie clearly has no doubts about his position, having declared what he'll be doing to world rugby in 2020 if they don't fall in line with New Zealand's decrees.

What a contest is in store, and I'm not talking about the Super Rugby final. In fact, no one seems to be talking about the Super Rugby final, which is just one more thing for northern hemisphere rugby to take note of.

For a little while now, Tewie has been waving what he must see as a big stick at England and co who waved one finger back recently when English rugby chief executive Ian Ritchie, in effect, told New Zealand to shove their demands where the sun doesn't shine.

A couple of British rugby commentators followed that up, pointing out the folly of New Zealand's inept attempts at bullying.

Here's what seems to be New Zealand Rugby's master plan. They want more of the northern hemisphere's money to fund their plans for world domination. Not surprisingly the English - who kind of like what's going on in their own backyard - aren't expected to share more gate money than they absolutely have to.

They're in no hurry either to shift their season to suit New Zealand, which isn't surprising since the Six Nations tournament and the European leagues are going great guns. European rugby bosses are certainly giving their fans more to treasure than the tripe which SANZAAR serves up in the form of the (Absolutely Not) Super Rugby competition.

I'm with England on this, and for a few reasons.

There's no nice way of putting this: it's great to see New Zealand rugby being treated with a bit of contempt. There's a sense of entitlement - one that is often satisfied by those in political power - to New Zealand rugby which drives some of us crazy. NZR cruises around unchallenged, and only needs to pick up the phone here to get what it wants.

Tewie certainly has some impressive ticks on his scorecard, the most notable being achieved by those who play in black. But there are significant items in the red column, and enough to make his continued tenure worthy of debate.

-Despite being the increasingly dominant sport in this country, the NZR actually made a loss last year.

-While NZR can hide behind SANZAAR when it suits, it must still take a huge amount of blame for the disintegration of Super Rugby as a credible or interesting competition.

-The substandard national provincial competition is sliding towards obscurity - so much for the old boasts about it being the best domestic competition in the world.

-Rugby's confused and often dismal domestic performance is most evident in its largest market, Auckland, where a bloated first XV schools competition translates into virtually nothing significant at senior level.

Compare that to Europe, where the Six Nations is a superb tournament which delivers high-profile drama year after year, its respect for history a key part of the successful equation. Note also that the French club final drew an amazing crowd of 90,000 on foreign soil in Barcelona a few weeks ago.

In contrast, SANZAAR appears addicted to pinning flags on a world map first and checking out the consequences later. Australian rugby in particular is at a crisis point, the obsession with new territories helping destroy the old ones.

Super Rugby was brilliant in the 1990s, and into the early 2000s, but you would hardly know the final is on in Wellington this week - you'd see more excitement at a supermarket opening. As for The Rugby Championship, it comes a very distant second to the Six Nations in atmosphere, intrigue and drama.

Tew has led New Zealand down a very successful path in filling up the trophy cabinet, and he is obviously a dedicated, skilled and strong administrator. But his global season campaign is a long running dud. Tew's Kremlin, so used to getting its own way domestically, has come up against serious opposition for once and got its comeuppance. And his own backyard is a mess.

The World Cup glow only spreads so far. It's getting to the point where Tewie needs a serious victory, and fast.

- NZ Herald

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