Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Rugby can't ignore Wallaby slump

Photo / Richard Robinson
Photo / Richard Robinson

There is much to lampoon in Wallaby rugby.

It's hard not to, especially when you know if circumstances were reversed, there would be an unrelenting wave of ridicule coming across the Tasman.

The Convicts like delivering the slipper when they sense they have an advantage and even when they don't, they can't help themselves. It's part of their nature, a sign of the rivalry that runs through all areas of life in Oz.

Now they're beginning to ridicule themselves. Wallaby rugby is kicking itself in the chops and the good ship Green 'n Gold is listing badly.

Floundering administration, plummeting television ratings, the James O'Connor debacle, the Wallaby downturn including a comical halftime talk out on the pitch at Newlands, pessimism from former players and so on.

That's without Campo offering his thoughts on female journalists whose numbers have doubled on the current short-circuit trip to Africa and Argentina.

The Wallaby demise will be cyclical but rugby is in a rugged domestic fight for fans, TV ratings and financial support against AFL, soccer, NRL, tiddlywinks and so on.

That should concern New Zealand and Sanzar as all sorts of theories are floated about the next Southern Hemisphere rugby deal.

The problems are widespread because Sanzar is trying to be all things to its shareholders and, inevitably, there'll be compromise. It will get worse as Argentina has come into the Rugby Championship with implications it will be involved in the next Super deal.

While that has happened we continue to ignore the pulling power and dynamic play of our nearby Pacific Islands.

Sanzar wants to look further and further afield towards Japan and the United States, and probably Iceland, before they will look at a way of getting Fiji, Samoa and Tonga involved.

Arguments are that an investment in a Pacific side would be exciting but financially impractical.

We'd rather have a useful financial involvement in an impractical Super 15 tournament with its lopsided pools and a shuddering halt in June. Well done, Sanzar. Bank the money, stuff the patrons.

You ignored the Pacific Islanders after they gave the All Blacks a huge fright in 2004. Better to pluck their talent than play against it.

Sanzar went for another safe five-year deal with our allies and now we're in the bells and whistles, flat-tyre five-year Super interruptus phase. Whoopee. What next?

Let's think less is best, let's concentrate on our transtasman, Pacific competition flavour. The world is envious of the rugby riches down here so let's bottle it and make them pay for it.

- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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