Do You Know What Hurling Is?

September 30, 2013
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Do you know what Hurling is?

It’s a game only played in the 26 counties of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with a combined population of 6.5 million people. The game itself involves 15 players, 14 of whom are armed with a hurley, used to hit the sliotar. Players aim to either score  goals, where the ball is hit past a goalkeeper guarding a soccer-style net ; or for a point, where the ball is hit over a rugby-style goal post. A goal counts 3 points.

A Guinness advertisement for Hurling

A Guinness advertisement for Hurling

The reason I am introducing you to this odd sport is to analyse a statement by SARU CEO Jurie Roux in an interview with Sport24’s Rob Houwing a fortnight ago in which Roux claimed that “the weak rand is killing SA rugby.” While there is obvious merit in Roux’s alarmist claim – I will try to paint instead a picture of an organisation who does not exploit one of its main revenue streams out of pure incompetence or laziness or a mixture of both.

This weekend saw county Clare contest the 2013 All Ireland hurling final against county Cork. Both counties are situated roughly 240 kilometers away from Dublin where the final was hosted at the prestigious Croke Park. Clare is a small county on the western coast of Ireland with a population of just over 117000 people. Cork is the republic of Ireland’s second city, even if country Cork still boast a population of 560000 people, which is a good bit less than Bloemfontein. The hurling final however,at around €100 per ticket, saw just under 83000 people attend. What is even more remarkable is that this final is a replay of a match that 3 weeks prior ended in a draw. The first ‘final’ attracted more than 80 000 spectators. A week later county Dublin played in the All Ireland Gaelic football final against minnows county Mayo – and that game again attracted 86000 spectators!

The point I am trying to make is an obvious one. Ireland is a much smaller country than South Africa. The republic only escaped the recession 3 months ago and still has an economy in deep distress. Gaelic sports is a true minority game in the world of sport, yet the GAA, who organizes and controls Gaelic sport leaves no stone unturned in marketing these games on every platform imaginable.

Now if you consider that the GAA would have earned more money from gate receipts over the past 3 weeks hosting the All Ireland finals in Croke Park than SARU earned hosting the Lions series in 2009, then you can appreciate that there is a problem somewhere. Rugby is an international sport with major brand sponsorship’s and supposedly a ‘religion’ to a large part of the South African population, yet our premier domestic competition (The Currie Cup) so far saw average gate attendances of only 16000 while the Super Rugby competition featuring the top rugby players in the world game attracted around 35000 spectators per game in South Africa at roughly €10 per ticket.

It appears we only get volume into stadiums for games that are cheap, and if you remove Newlands Stadium from these figures the average attendance at the remaining stadiums sees a significant drop. Yet SARU is an organisation in the green because its expenses are covered by massive television broadcasting deals signed once every 6 or so years. The suits get their salaries paid and the books balance and everything is hunky dory, yet no union can afford Jacques Fouries salary because they don’t generate enough income out side of their broadcasting deals.

What about merchandising – that giant cash cow that keeps European soccer teams in the green? Our unions cannot charge more than R80,00 a ticket for a game featuring on average 8 international rugby stars during Super Rugby, yet are happy for their international sports apparel brand sponsor to charge fans R800,00 for a replica jersey? No wonder so many fans buy substandard products from vendors on the street, yet the money paid to the street vendor does not reach the coffers of the local union and therefore cannot support player retention. The fan however makes an easy decision: I want the jersey because I love my team but I cannot afford R800,00 for it so I will buy the R200,00 version from a vendor at a traffic light instead.

this saturdays crowd

this saturdays crowd

To get back to hurling and the GAA, much like the rugby union teams who participate in the RaboDirect Pro 12 or Heineken competitions in Europe, you can purchase a wide variety of replica gear at roughly half the price you would pay for the match ticket. The live experience is prime you see, and people will sacrifice to get to see maybe one or two games a year and they will cherish those match tickets. In South African rugby its the other way around. We don’t care for the live experience anymore. Only Springbok and Western Province rugby get their fans out of bed – and in the case of the Springboks only the big games now fill stadiums. Long gone are the days when you can fill a stadium when the Boks play Argentina – even in the metropolis that is Johannesburg an hour after your national soccer team contested a match at the same ground!

I would love to see Jurie Roux address these issues before he sits back and blames our woes on the weak rand and explains how we are in fact helpless in this situation. I want to see rugby be something that people support with passion- a game where the mere purchase of a match ticket is an event in itself. No Mr Roux – Super rugby with its hundreds of meaningless games played at 11 in the morning (when real rugby fans are supporting their schools teams) and a diluted Currie Cup, not to mention some mediocre Springbok performances overt he past 4 years are what kills SA Rugby.  A totally unfocused approached to merchandising and other ‘value-adds’ kills SA rugby. A political agenda in rugby that is not transparent to fans is what is killing SA rugby.

I only managed to see 5 minutes of Saturdays  match in a Dublin pub run by Australians that cater mainly for rugby union. A separate area dedicated to the Springbok match was set up and filled to the brim with expats from both nations. However on the other much smaller  TV screen county Clare was about to be hauled in by a valiant 3-goal rally from Cork in a game we neither knew nor understood- yet the passion and atmosphere at Croke Park appeared worlds apart from the ‘product’ dished up at Newlands, and across the room you could see eyes wonder at regular intervals to this strange ‘other’ sport that somehow just looked ‘alive’.

In conclusion I ask you this: If at R80,00 a ticket we can get 10 000 more spectators per game at every venue in South Africa, how many players can we retain with the extra 6 or so million extra rands earned per union a season? And out of that 10 000 if just 500 buy affordable official merchandise? Do anyone at SARU, who all receive pay-checks at the end of every month really care about these figures or are they too busy blaming external factors such as a weak rand?

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77 Comments

  1. avatar Brendon says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    In ireland the newspapers and brands and GAA play an awful lot on patriotism and history to sell the game of hurling and it seems to work really well.

    Have our teams lost their true history and sense of location as a result of professionalism and especially Super Rugby?

    How do you change this around with a marketing strategy?

  2. avatar biltongbek says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Only thing I know about “hurling”

    You do that when had too much to drink.

  3. avatar Brendon says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Also despite Irish being for the most part a dead langauge – al writing and signage of all gaelic sports (even writing on replicas jerseys etc) are only allowed to be written in Gaelic.

    I think during isolation were were aiming towards a similar thing. Today in our democracy the big challenge (and financial carrot) is to sell the game to the millions of soccer supporters.

    In that sense most of our unions have not even started – whereas WP is doing well purely because they have managed to co-opt the colored community into the game.

  4. avatar Brendon says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    This is a marketing war, yet i dont think SARU has the personnel nor the will to fight it at all. Yet say Supersport offers SARU a 50% reduction the next time around – then you will see the marketing gurus hauled in. Why not now so we can keep some players in our league?

  5. avatar Morné says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I would suggest you first define who or what SARU is, its roles and responsibilities, and how it is separate from unions/franchises specifically when it comes to gate takings, marketing, merchandise and contracting.

    I would then also suggest you identify the major revenue streams for professional sport or in this case, rugby.

    There are many reasons the ‘live experience’ is not what it is like in first world countries. One of them is ticket prices vs the local economy, there are plenty more.

  6. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    @Morné:

    you are asking too much – why spoil a decent rant with facts and figures!?

  7. avatar Brendon says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    @Morné:

    All of them excuses I bet sari will be quick to offer. Fact: GAA markets their product better because they are forced to, while SARU and all u unions sit in a comfort zone created by tv revenue.

    Until the players start leaving in droves that is…

  8. avatar Brendon says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    @JT_BOKBEFOK!:

    The facts are there. Rugby is a small fry sport in SA yet does not have to be.

    It’s all just excuses.

  9. avatar Morné says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    @Brendon:

    I would be careful to start any sentence with the word ‘fact’ if I were you.

  10. avatar Brendon says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    3 games over 3 weekends. 250000 people through gates. Lions series could not even get close to that. How much more evidence do you require?

  11. avatar Morné says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    @Brendon:

    Because the 3 tests played at the three venues could only hold between 50 000 and 60 000 respectively (not to mention the last test being a dead-rubber) – all of them sold out btw.

    Again, a bit of research never killed anyone.

  12. avatar Brendon says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Where is your research Morne? Refute anything I say. A small country and minority sport outselling what is supposedly a religion! But now we defend the hierarchy when it’s clear that they cannot market the sport to earn enough to keep our league strong. And then their o my answer is to blame the strong rand? Why despite a bad economy can Spain pay their football players such big amounts? Must be that marketing thing again.

  13. avatar Brendon says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Weak rand. Come to Europe for a week and then tell me honestly we are marketing our game properly. And no, toksd and tjops does not market the game.

  14. avatar Glynis Startz says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Approximate raw numbers: Median household income in Ireland (nominal) ~305,000 rand, SA ~33,600 rand. One might expect to see ticket prices almost 10 times as expensive in Ireland as South Africa without taking any other factors into account.

  15. avatar Morné says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    @Brendon:

    What research are you after Brendon? I suspect quite a lot because you clearly have no idea who markets the game where in South Africa.

    You go off on an all-out attack on ‘SARU’ without having a clue what the organisation’s role is.

    Roux’s reference to the weak Rand was due to the player exodus that is experienced in South Africa, not the ability to market the game locally. But that is a ‘fact’ you seemingly lost in trying to put together an argument of your own using a game as big in Ireland as Jukskei is in PTA (my own unsubstantiated fact btw).

    NZ, Oz and Arg experience the same problem btw but this is not the point you try to make (weaker currency compared to Europe). You take a quote referring to a specific situation in our game and turn it into a weak marketing argument.

    Here are a couple of ‘facts’ for you to consider in your argument.

    * SARU is only responsible to ‘market’ the game for teams, competitions and players at a national level. This will include tournaments like the Craven Weeks, the U20 Boks, Sevens and the senior Boks.

    * SARU only contracts Sevens Boks and senior Boks. These contracts are supplement contracts and not player’s main contracts which is negotiated, signed and held at their provinces and franchises (which is unlike what you have in NZ as an example). This means if players leave it is mainly because of these contracts (if money is the issue).

    * SARU does not control the marketing of games (Currie Cup, Vodacom Cup, Super Rugby, etc) other than tests or national team games. They also do not control the ticket prices which is up to the union which in turn takes the gate-takings.

    But don’t let me stop your rant, like JT said, there is no fun in it then.

  16. avatar DavidS says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I suppose it would be akin to comparing the NFL semifinal play offs and final to rugby’s CC semi and final and say rugby is kak.

    Or even better, looking at NBA stadiums for the NBA finals series and saying that filling just 19600 per game in the best of seven final means NBA is failure in marketing itself…

    stupidityisstrong

  17. avatar Morné says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    @Brendon:

    My last word on this.

    How does the SA Currie Cup audience compare to that of the top 14 or Aviva Premiership especially given that our top 5 unions (excluding Griquas) have stadiums of 50 000 plus in each of these games (to fill) week in and week out?

    If there are some real figures we can compare we might just end up debating the point of marketing the game and who is doing it best.

  18. avatar Timeo says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    I think Brendon’s point is pretty well made.

    SA Rugby does a poor job of marketing game-day, because they live very comfortably from the TV revenue stream.

    NOTE: i did not say SARU.

    The weak rand excuse is a pretty poor one, because the Rand has been remarkably strong for around 10 years and nothing was any different.

    The living standard of the South African upper class, is equal or better than the median for Ireland and the population it includes is comparable to the population of Ireland as a whole. If SA Rugby cannot fill stadiums comparable to Irish sports them something is wrong and SA Rugby is not doing as much as it could or should.

  19. avatar Morné says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    @Timeo:

    If you want to compare across sporting codes how does a Pirates/Chiefs game compare to the Irish’ Hurling?

    Given SA’s demographics and who makes up the largest portion of the population (and which code they support) then this is surely a better comparison?

  20. avatar Timeo says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    @Morné:

    I don’t see how a Pirates/Chiefs game compared to a Hurling game would be relevant.

    We’re talking about SA Rugby.

    They are doing such poor job marketing to their existing core market that we cannot not even contemplate expanding the game to all South Africans at this point.

  21. avatar Morné says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    @Timeo:

    Hang on, wasn’t this article based on some Irish game and how it is popular in Ireland and sells thousands of tickets at games?

    We have codes of sport in this country which are very popular, it might not be called Hurling but it still sells.

    If this is about the ‘live event’ in rugby then let’s compare the live events in each country of the specific code.

    I am sure Jukskei in South Africa kicks Ireland’s ass.

  22. avatar Timeo says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    @Morné:

    We’re not comparing countries. We’re comparing SA rugby with other sporting codes.

  23. avatar Timeo says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I think SA rugby should go take a look at some of the minor league sports in the USA. There are hundreds of Baseball and Hockey teams in small markets with absolutely zero income from TV networks. All their revenues come from game attendance and merchandize sales and it’s entirely local. They only command the attention of a small portion of the people in their home markets and they are completely unknown outside of it.

    Yet they are successful businesses!

    Any rugby union in SA that can operate without the annual big TV check? Anyone of them working to be in such a position? They should be. Especially the majority that has no TV audience but gladly shares in the booty.

  24. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 12:35 am

    I turned down tickets for the Newlands test.
    Sitting between the 22 and the tryline @ R500 is not
    much fun. Add to that travel, parking, traffic
    and it’s much nicer sitting in front of the TV.

    No marketing by whoever will change that for me.
    But then I’m just an old geezer who likes comfort.

  25. avatar Brendon says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 12:42 am

    I agree that my aim at Saru and not unions might be misplaced but the buck has to stop somewhere. Afterall it’s Saru that negotiate on behalf of unions these tv contracts that make everyone lethargic on marketing the live product.

    If we did not have tv we would market the live and merchandise products better.

    My point is why don’t we milk those revenue steams to try earn more money?

    Why for example is the top 14 suddenly so strong? The euro? I believe at least half of the top 14′s surge has to do with how well they market the game in the smaller towns. Rugby for all intent an purpose is totallydead iin small town south Africa. It’s something you see on tv only. Not so in France.

    We can do so much more but we don’t because the admin salaries are paid along with the odd bonus. Without tv it’s all a big bubble of nothing.

  26. avatar Brendon says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 12:49 am

    @Boertjie:

    Fair enough. But the majority of the rugby viewing public hopefully are young (some days I doubt it in SA) and this groups needs to be lured to the stadium.

    Liquor stores and those selling meat and charcoal are taking money that in a perfect world can fund more players.

    But Morne reckons all is going great and the players leavimg droves is dir to a weak rand. So if the rand nevet recovers that’s it. Be prepared to watch all our stars in Europe as our governing body and unions cannot give a shite as long as their salaries are covered by tv deals.

    Rugby is afterall not so much about the players or the fans as it is about those running it ( a quote I once heard from a guy who representedw the lions in over 65 games)

  27. avatar Brendon says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 12:54 am

    I am willing to bet good money that john smit and sharks are going to shake up the game a bit as he has spent good time in a country where you compete with other sports and where you fight for every fan.

    In SA the assumption is that people will just forever stay loyal. Yet when even the players are leaving how long is it before the kid from aliwal north have a Toulon poster on his wall?

    Soccer has all the lessons you want right there but I fear the rugby community is too stubborn ans pompous to heed it.

  28. avatar Brendon says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 1:24 am

    @Glynis Startz:

    You forget that the rent is around 120 000 of that median income with food etc costing tripple. Trust me to pay 100 euro for a ticket is still a hard thing to do but thr differencr is people want to pay it. In SA the minute it’s expensive people startw moaning yet will probably spend more on booze and braai.

    Live rugby is not a premier event anymore. Over here a rugby test costs roughly the same as a coldplay ticket. The difference is both are sought after.

  29. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Oh jeez Shieldsy… comparing a ‘handful’ of ‘finals’ games at the end of season to the average Currie Cup season game attendance in a year where there is Varsity Cup, Vodacom Cup not to mention the ‘real’ games of Super Rugby and test rugby is about as ‘apples and pears’ and you can get!

  30. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 2:04 am

    “Live rugby is not a premier event anymore.”

    What absolute shite mate…

    A Super Rugby final in RSA ‘sells out’… the current TRC tests against NZ and Aus ‘sell out’ and at top dollar… those are the ‘premier games’ not some two-bit game between Kwas and Lions on the highveld!

  31. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 2:14 am

    As an aside… this year’s hurling was not a typical ‘final’ as it was a draw and the game you are referring to was a ‘decider’ and mate… methinks you sucked your figures out of your thumb as they actually reduced the ticket prices by more than 50% in some cases.

    “Tickets for the September 28 rematch of Clare and Cork are priced as follows – stand €50 (down from €80) and terrace €25 (down from €40).
    The GAA will also be making juvenile tickets available for €10″

    How about comparing those figures to this weekend’s test or a Super final or even a CC final?

    But the point is moot… none of the above ‘gate-takings’ have any bearing on being able to stop the exodus of players heading OS to massive salaries…

  32. avatar Craven says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 7:42 am

    @bryce_in_oz:

    Bingo, this seems to ellude certain posters. The Irish games quoted above are the pinacle of the hurling season, no wonder they will be sell-outs. Now let’s have a look at the pinacle of the local rugby season, that would be tests, especially against the All Blacks. We have one this year this coming Saturday, will that be sold out? You bet your ass it will.

    How can you compare the high point of the hurling season with run-of-the-mill watered down Currie Cup games without their major stars? We can talk bout this again when the semi-finals and final of the Currie Cup with the returning Boks are played later on this year. I am willing to bet those games will also be sold out.

    And as to having a go at the weak Rand argument and using hurling to as an example, how many STRONGER foreign currencies does hurling in Ireland have to compete against to keep their hurling players in Ireland? Is there a France or Japan where their players can go and earn money doing the hurling thing??

    Is it just me or do the arguments and examples just not compute in this article??

  33. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 7:52 am

    @Craven:

    agree – they don’t have internationals so this is the best of the best the fans can hope to see like this saturday the Bokke vs AB’s is the best of the best we can hope to see.

    I will be in Ljubljana this weekend and hope to find a pub showing the game :-/

  34. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 8:31 am

    @Craven:

    Mate… no offence to Shields… he writes articles which support his ‘flavour of the month’ (in this case slack marketing of the game in RSA) and invokes a decent debate… even if the under-lying premise/examples used are quite off-the-mark…

    And I agree with his underlying point to some degree… just not the delivery and analogies used… but then he’s probably fishing a bit too with those… and we bit…

  35. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 8:34 am

    @bryce_in_oz:

    The gist is… no matter what the gate-takings at these games he’s referring to are… they have no bearing on the ability of SARU to stop the exodus of top players…

    However FOREX is not the sole reason either only one of many…

  36. avatar Brendon says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Guys premier game or not, it’s still a minority sport that pulls more than 80k 3 weekends in a row.

    And they do so because the game is marketed better than rugby is in SA. I am here and I see it with my own eyes.

    Go to a small town in SA and tell me if rugby is stil anything other than an event on TV and then rethink your defense of how we market the game. We have all but given up on the rural viewing market and hurling is a great example of a sport doing just the opposite. Hurling is all about the small county and the small town, and it’s a strategy that works.

    But hey who am I to critique our rugby. You guys seem to suggest all is great. Big bad old forex is the culprit here and there is nothing we can do.

  37. avatar Bekke says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 9:56 am

    With Brendon on this. Morne, don’t let your new masters cloud your judgement. Yes, some stadiums like Newlands have impressive gates despite crazy ticket prices. Yet the large empty areas were all too obvious on Saturday. And the attendance at CC matches throughout KimberleY, Moftus, Bloem and Ellispark are fact. Simplle sums would support Brendon’s argument around merchandise.

  38. avatar Craven says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Too much rugby, there I said it.

    What with Vodacom Cup, Varsity Cup, Club Rugby, Currie Cup, Superugby and Tests, how do you expect me to go and watch all these rugby games in one season?? That’s not even considering the cost of attending all the rugby games I am supposed to support.

    Please tell us how many hurling games the Irish play during a “season”?

  39. avatar FlapjackJoe says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Hi,
    I’m also a South African living in Dublin.
    There are a few core differences between the sports though.
    Firstly, the pride in GAA comes from the fact that it is a true Irish sport and free of any English influences (so, basically, a political reason).
    Secondly, the All-Ireland final is the absolute pinnacle on the GAA sporting calendar. They don’t play the sport internationally (except some combination rules where they have a cross between GAA football and Aussie Rules, or a cross between hurling and shinty).
    In rugby, fans might support their local team, but their international team would get preference in the vast majority of cases. GAA fans don’t have that option.
    Clare played something like 6 matches to win the final. With it being on so infrequently, it becomes a special event and people flock to it. That won’t ever apply to Currie Cup pool games.

  40. avatar Morné says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    @Bekke:

    Not even close.

    Quite simply because this is not a SARU issue, but a provincial and franchise one.

  41. avatar Craven says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    @FlapjackJoe:

    Thanks for the input, appreciate it.

  42. avatar Ollie says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    One other thing that seems not to be mentioned yet, geography.

    Ireland is tiny in comparison to SA, when the rural teams have competing teams within a couple of kilometres of each.

    It’s not the marketing that has a big affect but the fact that the players don’t have to waste a whole day each time they have an away match.

    Geography has a huge impact

  43. avatar Brendon says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Ollie oor large land area is a drawback for sure.

    Morne is it the unions fault that we play too much and that the Currie Cup is now diluted?

  44. avatar Morné says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    @Brendon:

    I don’t know Brendon, why don’t you ask them if they can do without Super Rugby money?

  45. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Well, after all is said and done:

    Do you know what hurling is?

    No, I’m afraid I don’t. Some kind of ball
    game, maybe?

  46. avatar Morné says:
    October 1st, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    @Boertjie:

    Haha.

  47. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Well it appears SARU is a holy cow and can do no wrong. It’s all the unions fault. Then again, boks are marketed well and the only premier brand in SA so kudos to SARU for that.

    But I love how you guys rally to suddenly defend what is so blatantly not a healthy situation. Roux blames the forex and you guys blame the unions.

  48. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Oh Brendon… you really take the long way round to try and make a point…

    So the gist is you expect”

    >SARU to market and fill stadiums at two-bit CC games in areas that are little more than rural with 70% unemployment…

    and

    >To fill these same stadium at top dollar?

    Mate really… lay off that Buckfast…

  49. avatar DavidS says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Brendon how many Curling games are played per season and do they all fill Croke Park stadium? If the answer is that the final fills Croke Park then WTF? All the CC games fill the stadium.

    In contrast to the Irish Republic SARU has also rightly or wrongly made a commitment to the government to make the game accessible by offering lower costs of tickets. So they have to compete with cricket sho’s cheap seats at a D/N 20/20 is about R45, soccer who offer internationals at R20 per ticket and rugby who start at something crazy like R500,00 per ticket. Yet rugby fills stadia at internationals and the other two don’t.

    And I can guarantee you can look at every final of the past five years, even the 2010 one the Bulls and Sharks fought in a humid Kings Park mudbath in torrential rain was a sell out. Hell in 2011 the Lions even managed to sell out Ellis Park for the CC final!

    You meander about and make no real point…. ANYONE can fill a stadium. Hell the ANC do it every now and then with rent a crowds… so what? Does that mean the game is in good nick? Noooo… where do you see the game is in good condition. By the quality of players it attracts (SAFA may fill stadiums for local derby matches but there are zero international quality stars in local football), or by the quality of their sponsors (cricket is presently the no.1 test team and has been for two seasons but they are sponsored by some no name brand cooking oil company and Standard Bank has pulled out of their ODI sponsorship). Last the amount of international television coverage they get. At this stage the ONLY sport in SA with an INTERNATIONAL television rights deal is rugby. And of course by support outside the stadium. If you walk shopping malls on a Bok day in the East Rand half the shoppers are wearing Bok jerseys. On a provincial CC final or semi final day the same half are wearing WP, Sharks, Lions, Bulls or Cheetahs jerseys in varying quantities depending on the area you are in. Go to the pubs and family style restaurants around town and you’ll see the supporters who spend R600 – R1200 on a jersey and assorted other kit.

    To judge local rugby’s marketing nous based on the selling out of ONE stadium in ONE game of ONE sport in another country is ludicrous.

    By the same token you could then say because the NBA’s seven finals games only attracted 120 000 live viewers it is a kak sport at marketing itself. Then you ignore that players like Le Bron James has more sponsorship value than the all the teams in all of SANZARs competitions and the NFL Final may be played in a stadium that has less than 80 000 seats so it’s a poorly marketed game when you have to remember that advertising slots in the NFL final are the most expensive advertising slots on earth.

  50. avatar Craven says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    @DavidS:

    Well said.

  51. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    @bryce_in_oz:

    not at all. and rather engage the topic than attack the man.

    I am from a small town and i know for a fact there is no incentive to get people from small towns to get to stadiums and attend live games.

    There is not marketing drive.

    So we stay home and become more and more distanced from pro rugby as its something that happens in cities.

    In the Freestate alone you can get 10 000 extra people to Bloem on a given Saturday if you bothered to do a bit of marketing.

    But i wont say more. You guys are obviously not concerned so maybe I am overreacting.

  52. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    So it is just forex. Saru is great. The unions are doing all they can to market the game. Hurling filling 80k stadiums for finals (while they still fill 30k stadiums for other games)is all just luck.

    You are happy to pay R800 a jersey when an Irish person can buy a new leinster jersey for 3/4 that while earning 4 times that of a South African.

    Its all good in SA rugby and i am so bloody sorry I dared a criticism.

  53. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    @Brendon:

    Apples and pears… terrible analogy…

    And I’ll say it again… 10000 extra punters in rural stadiums ain’t going to make one iota of difference to the retaining top players from heading OS…

  54. avatar Morné says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    @Brendon:

    It is one thing to make an argument, it is quite another basing it on the analogies you used.

    You won’t find anyone disagreeing with the fact that our player exodus is a problem, but it is a problem for Australia and NZ and they also cite foreign currency as the major contributing factor along with player fatigue in a drawn out Super Rugby competition.

    Also, everybody would love to see rugby thrive everywhere in SA, including smaller towns and hubs (and you know SARU is busy with a program to address this but it will not happen overnight). The Varsity Cup and Shield is a huge success, the Community Cup (SARU initiative) is heading into its second year next year off a very successful debut.

    There are problems and solutions must be found, what you did above was quite simply a bad argument.

  55. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    @DavidS:

    All the CC games fill the stadium.

    What are you smoking or drinking? Pass it on.

    I think the average CC attendance is closer to
    20,000 if that high.

    Even Newlands – of all places – had thousands of
    empty seats for the test.

  56. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    “There are problems and solutions must be found” Jesus Morne a few months in the job and already you sound like a politician.

    Argument: small sports attracts many people by marketing to every soul. Big sport attracts little people by expecting tv to do all the work.

    Tell me again why my argument is so bad?

  57. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    @bryce_in_oz:

    Why? League’s become attractive based on the money they pay among with the vibe of the league as well as a few other factors.

    The Currie Cup based om the weather, it’s historical prestige, loving standards etc could have been like the Spanish football league.

    Every kiwi and Ozzie ans Canadian and Fijian etc should have been drawn Herr to play in front of mega crowds in mega stadiums and giant tv rights would have been signed.

    We missed that boat. So now oz,kiwi and us play out own pathetic little competitions after we play each other in this competition that due to it’s geograpy jusy never got off the ground as something people want to see.

    Wonder if Murdoch’s way could have produced something better? I just cannot understand how Europe with substandard players and substandard little stadiums managed to create these big successful leagues?

    Something just is not right. And in my mind it’s a marketing problem more than anything else.

  58. avatar Morné says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    @Brendon:

    Are you playing dumb or trying to get a rise.

    And you can go and fuck yourself for calling me a politician.

    You carry on about marketing rugby in small towns but highlight test ticket prices and comparing it to an indigenous sport in another country.

    South African has a population who by quite some majority supports football and even hate rugby for its Apartheid past.

    For that to change a rugby culture needs to be created and re-established where it has disappeared.

    In a lot of these instances it is up to the local unions to change this as they control these aspects.

    But it is crystal clear you have an issue with something and did absolutely nothing to research the problem other than comparing it to the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen.

  59. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Ha! The f word.

    Its not my job to research why rugby is not marketed properly but I can point to an example that it’s not. And hurling is a fine example of a properly marketed sport.

  60. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    And yes if rugby were better marketed in small town you might see more people vie for a match ticket, the price of which will then rise which means more money.

    Hurling can do it. Oh wait, that’s in a another county so has no relevance.

  61. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Remove hypothetically Saru’s tv revenue from the equation. Do you think they would have gone about their business the same way? Ditto the unions?

    I don’t like the defeatest argument Morne but if you can honestly say we are doing all we can to keep our players then I will relent.

  62. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    @Morné:

    Hey, Boet – that is not RuggaWorld jargon.

    As for marketing: The best case in point was SWD
    when HM coached there. They had a fan club, tent
    events for before and after etc. etc. They also
    had a pro marketing agent.

    On another level: Ceres club around their centenary.
    They even had a gym for the wives of players.
    It took one guy with vision and the right approach.
    In those years they also beat the Mighty Maties.

    Right now Saru has opened an absolutely superb rugby
    museum in the V&A, with video’s and interactive
    displays, old jerseys, the tut.
    Yet I don’t see them marketing it.

  63. avatar Morné says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    @Brendon:

    Not your job?

    If you want to criticise something at least know what you are talking about, that is the essence of a solid argument for debate. This is just a joke.

    @Brendon:

    Again, look to who that responsibility falls to and who has jurisdiction on it. Firstly google the word jurisdiction so you know what it means though.

    @Brendon:

    Remove TV revenue from rugby and it will become an amateur sport again like it was in the 80′s and we will just play among ourselves. Yes, that will solve it.

    @Boertjie:

    It is an appropriate response to an insult I do not take kindly to. So I will not retract it.

    In fact, this article seems to seek Keo-like responses for its baseless statements.

    As far as the rugby museum goes, it opened last week. If you want I can get numbers for you on the number of feet that has been through it.

    It has been all over the web, social media, etc. If you say ‘market’ it I am not too sure what you mean? Newspapers? Broadsheets? Full page ads? I am not too sure what their campaign is on that but it would be interesting to find out.

    Any event, I have been up since 4 this morning and just returned home from PE where we today laid the foundation for an awesome campaign to grow the game of rugby among women in SA with the view on the RWC next year and the Olympics in 2016. Not that this means anything to Brendon who is probably watching reruns of Hurling classics.

  64. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    @Morné:

    I saw two stories (Argus, Burger) when it opened,
    nothing since.

    I am not an expert on museums, but this one
    surpassed my expectations. From a personal point
    I miss a few things, like Frik’s only test try
    with his display.
    But they do have Joggie Jansen’s tackle.
    8)
    Oh yes, and the white statues of Oubaas Mark, Craven and
    all the others are very poor likenesses.

  65. avatar Morné says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    @Boertjie:

    I was blown away by the museum, and I am not one for those type of things either.

    Any person that has the slightest interest in the game simply has to go and check it out.

    How did you like all the old newsclippings with the added video and audio?

  66. avatar Timeo says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    I find it amusing how most here are always willing to blame SARU for everything from smallpox to global warming but instantly closed ranks when perfectly rational criticisms came from an apparent outside perspective.

    Brendon would have got all cheers if he had just said SARU does a poor job of marketing the game, without any references to outsiders. The mistake was to mention Us in context with Them.
    When it’s an Us vs. Them, patriotism drives Us to stand together.

  67. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    @Morné:

    Jip. Everything there is A1 – apart from the
    statues, which are really poor.
    Even the one with Pienaar/Mandela.

    What impressed me most was that jersey from
    the WW II enlisted men playing the ABs and
    how it was made.

    I saw women with kids, dads with kids, also
    quite a few blacks. And the personnel are
    also A1. Also quite a bit about coloured
    national teams, but I saw nothing on the
    black teams that also used the Springbok
    (as per Andre Odendaal’s history).
    This museum should be included in packages
    to Newlands, etc.

    I believe Swys Joubert also has a very
    good museum at Ellis Park.

  68. avatar Morné says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    @Timeo:

    I have to disagree.

    I know exactly what Brendon’s concerns are and believe it or not I fully agree with them but then I did mention that before.

    Losing players is not ideal, actually it’s shit. Our rugby culture has been dying of late specifically in rural areas and more must be done to preserve this.

    But if you have a problem with something at least try and identify the core or source of the problem in logically and fairly, otherwise there is no point.

    He could have used darts as a national sport in Brakpan it would not have made a difference to me, but what is perceived to be the source of the problem in his argument is just way off the mark and lends itself to unjust criticism and zero scope for a solution.

  69. avatar Morné says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    @Boertjie:

    I saw our good friend Rudi at Rugby-talk cover the Ellis Park museum as it opened sometime this week – will still go and see that very soon.

    Can’t say I dislike the statues, but then again, you are the historian and given your background detail is crucial (but very few have your knowledge and experience).

    I just loved how they put it together. I think it will be impossible to fully capture over 100 years of history in the way they did it but they did a pretty damn good job trying.

    My favourite part, the old newsclippings in that visual audio aid touchscreen thing they have – for a person that loves history but knows very little about it, it makes it easy to follow.

  70. avatar Morné says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Okay done with work for today.

    Brendon, as Boertjie said this is not the way things are done on here so please accept my apology for the one comment above.

    Cheers.

  71. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    @Morné:

    No scope for a solution? My entire critique is against Roux for saying there is no solution but to cry foul over the weak rand. The entire article is a solution: start marketing the game properly as hurling is doing, and the numbers will come.

    But heaven almighty let me make a reminder to never critique saru on this site again.

  72. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Roux opting to blame forex instead of finding a solution is what spawned the entire article.

  73. avatar Brendon says:
    October 2nd, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    Oh wait I forget: Roux had a solution: he said France will realise that having a mega super rich league full of world stars is actually bad for their national team, and then they will stop.

    His notion went un-challenged in all media and i am sorry to now somehow assume he is with the untouchable SARU but that is pure rubbish.

  74. avatar Morné says:
    October 3rd, 2013 at 12:00 am

    @Brendon:

    I have answered you many times in different ways on this issue but let me recap it in a simple statement for you.

    The weak currency (Roux’s comment) has to do with the player exodus in the professional game (SA losing top Boks), a problem experienced by ALL southern hemisphere teams. Creating a healthier cash-influx across SA (your marketing argument) in the game of rugby requires unions/franchises to do a better job with a whole lot of other challenges to consider (social, political, economical, geographical, etc, etc, etc).

    As an aside, I watched highlights of the top 14 in France last night, the one particular game which had Bakkies Botha playing in it the commentator mentioned that a record crowd of 11 000 pitched up for that game. Hello? 11K and its a record for them? Of course we can always improve our own figures and standings in this regard, but to think we are way off the pace… well that is just way off the mark.

  75. avatar Morné says:
    October 3rd, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Now I am gone. Cheers.

  76. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 3rd, 2013 at 2:02 am

    @Timeo:

    Oh what rubbish… it was a shocker analogy nothing to do with ‘patriotism’ and got the rise it deserved or was intended to…

    Comparing an indigenous ‘finals’ game in Cork to a low-level CC game in a semi-rural city that is mostly unemployed and expecting a> the same numbers and b> top dollar is disingenuous to say the least.

    As ‘Colcannon’ to ‘Mielie Pap’ as one can get…

  77. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 3rd, 2013 at 2:07 am

    @Morné:

    What he said…

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