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Are We Getting Too "Rugbyed" Out In NZ?

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Scott Newman
Scott Newman

Being a big rugby fan in New Zealand I often wonder if we are losing some of our passion for the national game as there are a lot of reasons why to point out this fact over the most recent seasons. Here are my thoughts about it.

The NPC is to be regarded as one of the most fascinating contests between the divisions best local talent and as a way to make a name for yourself in hopes of a super 14 or sevens contract.  If this is so then why is it that when we fans go to the game most of the stadium is empty with average crowds of 3,000 - 5,000 or so people?

I realise that SKY TV plays all of the games and that in the economic crisis of late last year and in the present have attributed to the dwindling numbers of supporters and also with the All Blacks not playing in the national competition it has made it less appealing.

I remember growing up as an eighties kid and going to watch games with my family and having large numbers and a solid interest in the game with the fans wearing their teams jerseys and would turn up at all home games each week.  These days seem to be long gone and I hope something can be done to bring back interest to the NPC and Super 14 competitions.

I did my OE over in the UK last year and found that England's national sport of football is very supported and is followed with a passion that I couldn't help but thought is being lost back at home. All of the stadiums are nearly always full with the colours of the teams showing all season long. I know there are a lot more people over there but to see the support and love of the game is important.

I mean yes, we have sold out crowds for our All Blacks games, sevens competition usually our rugby finals but we do not have every region including our very proud rugby regions showing as much support as in the past.

A lot of our most experienced players are now going overseas to earn money or continue playing into their 30's as UK/European international leagues tend to have a big mix of young and experienced players who can play to a later age and still be effective.  The overseas path is now a very common road for our ex-all blacks but alarmingly also players who are not being selected and faced with decisions on where to play rugby and loyalty issues.

As for the World cup we have always been ranked the #1 favourite and been surrounded by lofty expectations to win the cup and have experienced different failures through the years as we have almost complete dominance outside of the cup years and then look shaky on the big stage. I am pleased that we have kept Graham Henry as really it is not his fault entirely that we failed in the most recent world cup as when you think of all that he had done overall. The All Blacks are not in a bad way.  If we can build more dominance and consistency of playing the big games then it will be all the better for 2011.

Just to think our last loss at Eden Park was in 1994 and how important it is that we have the world cup stadium ready for 2011. We have to be ready? It freaks me out the lack of resources we have in public transportation and accommodation and hope to see a drastic improvement for when we host the World Cup as much of the experience is in the stay in NZ over the Rugby.

I hope to see the numbers up for the upcoming super14 and the interest back in our national game. I hear on the talk back programs a lot of feedback on our current issues and I know there are still a lot of people who are dire fans who are also getting fed up. What do you think can be done or are we slowly being doomed by players leaving our shore. Being blessed with the best rugby talent depth in the world can be a factor in the professional era.

As long as we can have less watching at home and more presence at the games especially our proud franchises in the South Island then I wouldn't feel like the many games being broadcasted by sky is not harming the game or the quality of players leaving our shores. We don't want to run the risk of people from home being turned off in 2011.

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