This Saturday, Springbok fans are gearing up for what will more than likely be a bloodbath.
We may cling on gamely for 45, or 50, or 55 minutes, but in the end, the All Blacks will emerge comfortable winners and we’ll once again have to face the reality that we are only the seventh best team in the world.
New Zealand’s dominance has actually killed off much of the excitement of the Rugby Championship, because the rest of us are just scrapping for second, but rugby as a whole has far bigger problems.
Just 18 months ago, World Rugby announced an agreement intended to give clarity to the global calendar until 2032. Despite that agreement, fresh talks are set to be held in Sydney later this month, and there is much hard work ahead.
Just ask Agustín Pichot, the former Argentinian scrumhalf and now World Rugby’s vice-chairman. Here’s Stuff:
[He] has given a dire assessment of the sport, saying the international game is under threat and facing ruin if urgent action isn’t taken.
He wants unions and clubs to come up with another 10-year blueprint before next year’s World Cup in Japan, starting with a crucial meeting in Sydney later this month.
It seems hopes from a meeting 18 months ago that tried to sort out a global calendar through to 2032 have dimmed with Pichot [below] decalring fresh thinking is needed.
“If you ask me as a businessman, the business side of it is not working,” Pichot told The Guardian.
“If you ask me as the playing side, it’s not working. Is the international game under threat? I think it is. Look at the balance sheets of some nations and you can see exactly where we stand.”
Look at the balance sheets of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) if you really want to be depressed.
Anyway, back to the larger picture:
“By the 2019 World Cup we need to have a blueprint for the next 10 years. On a scale of one to 10, I think we’re four out of 10 now [in terms of finding a solution] but before we were not even on the chart. We need to push that needle from four to at least six or seven. I’m not going to be an accomplice to rugby’s ruin.”
Pichot, a strong advocate for the players, fears that they are the ones who will be hurting most.
“My view is that players cannot carry on playing as they are now. You cannot have them playing 30-odd competitive club and international games just because you want bums on seats”…
“I have been a professional player so I understand how it goes but you have to take care of the athlete. The first principle is the players’ welfare because they inspire everyone, both us now and the next generation. That is important for the growth of the game.”
Remember when Super Rugby used to be fun to watch, and the best teams advanced to the semi-finals? Those were the days. I wonder if the players feel the same way.
Sadly, and here’s where the real problem comes in, there are just too many egos in play:
Pichot said there was a need to regroup in Sydney and work out how wealthy club owners could align better with national bodies to ensure a proper calendar.
“The biggest problem – in business and in sport – is egos. I don’t have that problem,” he said.
If I didn’t like Pichot from his playing days, I might add that’s exactly what a person with a big ego would say.
As for this weekend? All we can do is hope that Malcolm Marx finds his jumpers, Pollard kicks his points, and the All Blacks have an off day and beat us by 20.
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