31-December

I notice the Sunday Start Times today picked up my story about Malcolm Gladwell’s theory (from Outliers) about the birth dates of top sports people and specifically how it relates to the All Blacks:

Early arrivals get jump start

The theory is that when age-group teams are selected those that are born just after the cut-off date have an advantage as they will be slightly older, and that advantage will then be compounded by the additional coaching and playing opportunities they have over the years, until they actually are better than others born later in the year.

And the data appears to back this up.

Here is a graph of the birth months of the 45 All Blacks from this year:

2008-all-blacks-birth-months

In this squad 55% of the players are born in the first four months of the year, where you would only expect this to be 33% if the dates were evenly distributed.

So, those of you who were born in the second half of the year now have a good explaination for why you never made it, while those of us born in the first half need to find another reason (my excuse: I was over the weight limit for my own age group when I was a kid, so I was playing against older kids anyway).

Looking at this, I was especially interested to see that there are five of the current squad born in December.

As if to prove that there is always an exception to every rule, there is even one player in the current squad born on the 31st of December.

If the theory is to be believed this is the single worst possible day for an aspiring rugby player to be born, as they will be the youngest candidate for every age-group team, constantly having to compete with kids who are older and therefor bigger and more co-ordinated etc.

So, for somebody born at the end of December to make it they must be an exceptional player.

That player: Richie McCaw.

Now that’s an outlier!

Richie

Third largest?

Yesterday it was announced that Wellington would host two of the quarter-finals in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Here is the announcement from the Minister of Sport, Clayton Cosgrove (emphasis mine):

“In terms of hosting major global sporting events, Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2011 is like New Zealand’s ‘Olympics’.  It is the third largest sporting event in the world. An event of this scale and significance offers every city and town a rare opportunity to realise a wide range of benefits across the sport and business sectors, as well as the community.”

The third largest?  Really?

In the spirit of Wikipedia: citation needed.

Clearly the Olympics and the Football World Cup are #1 and #2.  But, it seems to me there are a lot of other more global sports that could claim third position ahead of rugby:

  • Football: European Champs or Champions League
  • Golf: The Ryder Cup (or any of the four majors)
  • Tennis: Wimbledon (or any of the four majors)
  • Cycling: The Tour de France
  • Basketball: World Champs or NBA Playoffs
  • Athletics: World Champs

What about the Commonwealth Games?  Surely that’s bigger?

What about the Superbowl?  Isn’t that the most watched sporting event?

What about the Winter Olympics?

Can you think of any others?

I guess it all depends how you measure it.

This post from the WSJs “number guy” is worth a read:

When It Comes to TV Stats, Viewer Discretion Is Advised

Either way, I’m sure it will be a big weekend in Wellington when the worlds largest sporting event involving teams of 15 people playing with an oval ball comes to town!

:-)

Day Six

Some random observations from the first six days of the Olympics:

  • High Definition is just spectacular.  I’m definitely going to be watching less television after these two weeks, because going back to standard definition now is just painful.
  • Freeview has also exceeded my (admittedly somewhat low) expectations. Getting it setup was as simple as a visit to Dick Smiths.  I plugged it in and it more or less set itself up. Nice!
  • The additional “TVNZ Sports Extra” channel is a great.  It was excellent, for example, to be able to watch uninterrupted coverage of the equestrian cross-country event earlier in the week and the cycling road time trials yesterday, both of which only featured on TV One later and even then heavily edited.  Although, I wonder why it’s not broadcast in HD too?  Is there a technical limitation behind this?
  • Related to that: if TVNZ have the rights to all of this content, why don’t we have 10 channels of uninterrupted coverage on Freeview showing all of the different sports?  I’m not really into the gymnastics (or handball, weightlifting, judo, fencing, etc), but I’m sure there are people out there who are so let people choose what they want (see: The Long Tail).
  • What’s with all of our medal chances getting sick?  Have they checked that there are no South Africans on the catering staff in the athletes village?  And, would it have been so bad for Mahe Drysdale to tell us he was sick beforehand, rather than leaving us all to suffer through the last 500m of his race assuming he was just knackered?
  • If Peter Montgomery says “red light, warning, warning” during a rowing commentary again and we lose, will he be allowed back in the country?
  • Getting fourth sucks, doesn’t it!  But, gosh there are a lot of losers at the Olympics: Moss Burmester, for example, was fourth out of a field of forty-four qualifiers.  For him even the 6th fastest time ever was not good enough for a medal.  It’s tough eh!
  • The star of the games so far for me: the slalom kayaker from Togo … just like Eric The Eel, but actually good at his event! (go on and click the Eric link above if you didn’t already … it’s a brilliant Roy and HG commentary of his race in 2000)
  • Does it matter that the giants footprints in the opening ceremony were faked?  Likewise, does it matter that the aforementioned kayaker from Togo actually lives in France and, in fact, hasn’t been back to Togo since he was a baby?
  • Ouch (also, on video, if you can stomach it)
  • Have you noticed how TV3 now has a whole separate row in their daily medal table for Michael Phelps?  They’ve also quietly dropped the NZ medal count which used to be in it’s place.  So far, he’s ahead of all other countries except for Germany, South Korea and China.  And, in fact, is equal with all of the other members of the US team combined!
  • Speaking of Phelps, how come he never gets a tummy bug?  The worst that seems to happen to him is that his goggles fall off, and even then it only means that he doesn’t get to break the world record en route to winning another gold medal.  
  • Has anybody remembered that the All Blacks are playing this weekend?
  • Isn’t it sad that the first thing that crosses the mind of the CEO of New Zealand Equestrian Federation when he watches Andrew Nicholson fall off his horse a couple of days back is not: “bugger, there goes the medal chances” but instead: “bugger, that’s going to stuff our funding!” 
  • Finally, here is a good question for a pub quiz: which country is represented by the three-letter code: IRI?  According to Wikipedia it’s Iran.  I can understand why they might not have wanted IRA, but surely IRN would have been a more sensible choice  Also, further down that page is an explanation for why Malaysia is MAS not MAL.

That will do for now … the sofa beckons.

CORRECTION: It turns out that Michael Phelps did in fact break the world record, even without goggles.  And Moss Burmester is the 6th fastest individual over 200m butterfly, not the 6th fastest time ever (which I imagine actually all belong to said Mr Phelps?)

Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy

The Olympics kick-off tonight.

So, with Freeview HD ready and waiting and 18 fewer hours per day to be writing blog posts things might be a little quieter around here over the next couple of weeks. :-)

Lance links to a great interactive Olympic Medal Map from the NY Times.

As you drag the slider along it’s interesting to see how pre-WWII the Olympics were dominated by Europe and the USA,  then along comes the Soviet Union and East Germany (apart from 1984 in LA, when NZ won a record 8 gold medals), then become much more global in more recent times the medals start to be spread around Asia, South America and Africa (with the exception of 1976, when African countries boycotted, and John Walker won the 1500m).

And, as Lance notes, in the last couple of Olympics the main talking point has been the rise and rise of Australia.  From winning no golds at all in Montreal to 4th place on the medal table in both Sydney and Athens with 16 and 17 gold respectively.  As Richie might say: “fine effort that”.

At the Athens games they even passed us on a per capita basis, where we normally do pretty well.

These tables (from the Google cache as the original site is no longer) show the medal rankings from the Athens games by population and by GDP:

By Population (Australia 3rd with 0.85 gold medals per million people; NZ 7th with 0.74 per million)

By GDP (NZ: 21st; Australia: 25th)

The big winner is Cuba, who is 3rd by both measures.

So, what about predictions for this time around…

The Australian Olympic Committee is predicting they will win 44 medals, 20 of them gold.  So to match that on a per capita basis we’d need to win 9 medals including 4 golds.

(using population numbers from the CIA World Factbook)

Here are the 11 candidates who have a current top-3 world ranking heading into the games: Valerie Vili in athletics; Sarah Walker and Catherine Cheatley in cycling; Mahe Drysdale, the men’s coxless four and coxless pair in rowing; Tom Ashley, Barbara Kendall and Andrew Murdoch in sailing; and Bevan Docherty and Samantha Warriner in triathlon.

In addition to those there are another 28 kiwi athletes who are ranked in the top eight in their events, and keep in mind Hamish Carter was well outside the rankings heading into the triathlon in Athens, and we all know how that ended up.

I think they can do it!

Oi, Oi, Oi!

Bonus (for stats geeks): based on this guys analysis “the number of medals won is roughly proportional to the cube root of the population.”  So there you go!

Niet te geloven 3-1 verloren

Picture this:

A much loved national sports team, which hasn’t won a major tournament since the late 80s goes into the latest event as one of the favourites. The team, including many of the superstars of the game, easily win all of their pool matches before being bundled out in the quarter finals to a less fancied opponent. Their army of supporters, all dressed in the same colour, and all convinced that they are the greatest team in the world, struggles to come to terms with the result.

Russia 3, Netherlands 1 (after extra-time).

I was in Amsterdam when the Netherlands lost to Portugal in the semi-finals of Euro 2004, so I can imagine what the atmosphere must be like there at the moment, after the loss to Russia this morning (NZ time).

Many of you can probably relate too, I suppose.

I’ve always maintained that the All Blacks are the rugby equivalent of Brazil, but given this result perhaps the Netherlands are a closer match?

Reinventing the haka

In a recent post, Kevin Roberts asks some interesting questions about the All Blacks’ haka:

“Is it time to change our view on the Haka? Have we spent too much time investing in its cultural implications and the reaction of the opposition?

Should we – a) perform it for ourselves in the changing shed as we did successfully in Cardiff against Wales, b) perform it after the game in celebration of victory as Titch and the Sevens teams do, or c) put it under wraps until we win the World Cup in 2011.”

I think that making it a private thing would be a shame – there is something quite special about the buzz created by a haka in a massive stadium setting. But, treating it as something that is done after a win only seems a great idea.

And this doesn’t necessarily mean that it loses it’s impact as a challenge. Think of it as a challenge to the opposition to lift their game for the next time the two teams meet – playing nicely into the All Black ethos of wanting to win every match.

If you think this is crazy, or that the haka is untouchable, consider that the haka has only been a feature of All Blacks home test matches since 1987 (prior to that it was only performed on international tours, and even then generally badly). And, in the last couple of years it has evolved further with the introduction of Kapo o Pango.

I think we definitely underestimate the impact of the haka as a motivations for opposition teams, and it would be great to re-claim it for ourselves.

What do you think?

Why couldn’t this happen?

Would performing the haka after a victory have the desired impact?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

PS It’s interesting to note that one of the three suggestions I made for re-invorgorating the All Blacks following the World Cup last year has already come to pass with mid-week matches scheduled for the end-of-year tour to the UK. There is also a Bledisloe Cup match to be held in Hong Kong. I expect this to be a huge success – perhaps the prelude to a full Pan Pacific Championships to be held somewhere in Asia? ;-)

Not just stadiums

Some of the venues being built in Beijing for this years Olympics look absolutely stunning:

Photos from: New stuff in Beijing

No cake tins to see here!

Still, I’m not sure they beat my current favourite, the Allianz Arena in Munich.

This amazing structure lights up in different colours for night games depending on who is playing.

White when Germany are playing…

Red when Bayern Munich are playing…

And blue when TSV 1860 are playing…

Of course, during a local derby the stadium is neutral…!

More: http://www.allianz-arena.org/en/presse/bilder-service/

Just tell them it’s sport

I like this quote from the Sky Sports Magazine advert:

“If you want to drive like a maniac, beat someone up, fire guns, punch a man in the head, shower naked with a group of men … you can. Just tell them it’s sport.”

Can you add anything else to this list?

How about:

Dress up in lycra…

Photo: scoop.co.nz

Or a nappy…

Sumo Tanga

Photo: freakingnews.com

Or a tux…

Photo: snooker.org

Dress all in pink…

Photo: Ian Poulter from golf.com

Or sport a beard and mullet and drink beer (as you become world champion)…

At darts!

Photo: tribuneindia.com

Dress like a clown

Photo: blackhillstravelblog.com

Or worse

Photo: pbs.org

Just tell them it’s sport!

Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments below. :-)

Go on the Fleet

Last week we (meaning the 28,000-odd members of MyFootballClub.co.uk) completed the takeover of Ebbsfleet United FC:

Yahoo News: Web fans complete takeover of lowly English club

With that out of the way we new owners have quickly gotten on with business, including picking new strips for next season (following the takeover Nike have kindly offered to be the kit sponsor!)

Here are my selections:

Home

Away

The team are currently 9th on the Blue Square Premier Football Conference table, just outside of a promotion playoffs spot. So, they’re only four winning seasons away from the Premiership!

Could be fun. :-)

Re-invigorating the All Blacks

In the sports news this week…

Some wally from the Australian Rugby Union thinks that the Super 14 and Tri-Nations need “re-invigorating”.

What’s more his solution is adding more teams to the Super 14. Specifically, a Melbourne-based team blended from players from Argentina, Australia & the Pacific Islands (dare I ask where the coach might come from?) That would also pave the way for adding Argentina to the Tri-Nations.

Of course, both competitions currently have names based on the number of teams they feature, so both will need re-branding, which is exciting news for the marketing folks I’m sure.

Enough, I say!

Here are two simple lessons that seems to have evaded rugby administrators:

  1. More is often less; and
  2. Variety is the spice of life.

For what it’s worth, here is what I think the NZRU should do in 2010 when their current broadcasting arrangement expires:

Scrap the Tri-Nations & Super 14

Adding Argentina to an annual Tri-Nations competition is not going to make it more interesting, it will just add more games and more travel.

Playing a competition over so many weeks and across so many time zones just doesn’t create the interest that is required. Playing over more weeks and more time zones doesn’t seem like a sensible solution.

Playing regularly against NZ & South African teams might have created a golden generation within Australian rugby, but it’s time we put them back into their box.

Back in 1996 this new competition was an exciting proposition. But nobody cares enough about this anymore. It’s time to move on.

Cancelling the Super 14 would allow each of the individual countries to put their energies back into developing a strong local provincial competition (somebody should remind that chap from the ARU that their track record in this respect is not exactly stellar and that they might get their own house in order before they start to giving advice to the rest of us!)

And, with SANZAR out of the way South Africa would be free to affiliate themselves with European competitions, which actually makes a lot more sense for them given their location/time zone.

Create a Pacific Championships

This could be a mini World Cup style tournament, played every four years (in between full World Cups) featuring teams from around the Asia & Pacific region.

The model I have in mind here is football’s European Championships.

One possible format for this would be a 12 team tournament, with four pools of three teams playing each other and the winners advancing to a knock-out semi-final and final. Perhaps those teams finishing second in each pool could also participate in a knock-out round of their own (like the plate format used in sevens). Either way this would mean the whole tournament could be completed in just five weeks.

Just like the full World Cup the tournament could be hosted in a different country every four years (unlike the World Cup we might actually allow the tournament to be hosted by countries outside of the major rugby playing nations – I hear they have a few big stadiums in Japan which should be sufficient for the inaugural tournament).

Here are the top 12 teams from this region based on current world rankings (in brackets):

  • New Zealand (2)
  • Argentina (3)
  • Australia (5)
  • Fiji (9)
  • Samoa (12)
  • Tonga (13)
  • Canada (14)
  • Japan (18)
  • USA (19)
  • Uruguay (20)
  • Korea (23)
  • Chile (24)

Nine of those teams played in the last World Cup, so there should be no concerns about the quality of the teams that would be involved (assuming of course that we can convince Argentina to be involved along with those of us who didn’t qualify for the semis in the last World Cup!)

One of the many great things about this idea is that the All Blacks would end up playing in a lot of places that they don’t currently ever visit, and playing teams that they currently rarely (if ever) play outside of World Cups.

Consider this…

Q: Excluding Australia and South Africa how many times have the All Blacks played in the other 9 countries listed above?

A: Only 6 times, all of them in Argentina (and only twice in the professional era). They have never played in the Islands, Asia or Americas.

Playing in other countries can only be good for the growth of the All Black brand around the world.

What’s more, it would provide an incentive for players to remain in New Zealand between World Cups.

Tours

It’s amazing that this even needs to be in a list like this. You don’t have to go back too many years when the international tour, both tours to NZ by international teams and extended overseas tours by the All Blacks, was part of the life-blood of rugby.

It’s telling that I can remember so many of the details of the 1996 tour to South Africa (the mid-week captain, for example, was a young Taine Randal; there were actually four tests, but only the last three counted towards the test series; the winning penalty in the second test was kicked by Jon Preston who was only on the field as a replacement; after holding on desperately to a slim lead for what seems to be an eternity in the closing minutes of the test at Loftus Versfeld, when the final whistle finally blew captain Sean Fitzpatrick spend a minute lying on the ground exausted). Meanwhile, the details of the many Tri-Nations games played by the same teams in South Africa since them all sort of blend into one, and seem to have far less significance.

In 2005 we got a taste and reminder of this here with the tour to NZ by the Lions. For the first time in years a touring team played against provincial competition in provincial stadiums, fans from overseas visited en mass, and the All Blacks lifted themselves to the challenge and played some spectacular rugby. It was a huge success. But it doesn’t seem to have occurred to anybody to try and replicate this on a more frequent basis.

Think of the great tours overseas that the All Blacks could take – to Great Britain, to France, to South Africa, to Argentina. They could take a full squad, play mid-week and weekends, and play a proper test series.

That would be worth getting up in the middle of the night for!

What do you think?

Dark Days

It’s been a long week.

It all started about 25 minutes into the second half last Sunday morning, when Daniel Carter went off injured and the TV pictures showed the look of absolute fear in his eyes. I sunk back into my chair. From then on in it all seemed to have an air of inevitability about it.

Four more years, boys!

Once again we’ve collectively decided to find an external scape goat. In ’95 it was Suzy the mysterious (and malicious) waitress. This time around it’s the referee Wayne Barnes.

Sure, he didn’t have a great game. But, it’s rubbish to blame him entirely for the result.

Luke McAlister didn’t deserve to be sent off. But great teams deal with situations like that and get on with it. Remember when England were reduced to 13 men by a whistle-happy ref in Wellington in 2003? They dug deep and held on. The All Blacks did that too on Sunday morning … for 8 1/2 minutes. It wasn’t enough. (I also wonder if ithe whole thing wasn’t still playing on Luke’s mind when he lined up the conversion to Rodney So’oialo’s try?)

The pass to Michalak was clearly forward too. But, when I played at school we were always taught to play the ball rather than wait for the whistle. Was the pass so forward that it helped Jauzion to avoid the tacklers who should have been all over him? And, players aside, if anybody is taking heat for this it should be the touch judge Jonathan Kaplan (from South Africa … now there’s a conspiracy theory waiting to be uncovered!)

Whatever though … if it makes you feel better, believe that Wayne Barnes was the only thing between us and a deserved victory.

Graham Henry’s planning has also been given the retrospective thumbs-down. I suppose that is inevitable. By definition a successful strategy is one that works. The criticism would be more credible if it had been made before the outcome was known.

Of course, everybody now believes that they always thought it was a bad idea to rest players during the Super 14. But I remember being pretty bloody glad about it when Chris Jack was injured and James Ryan and Jason Eaton were ruled out entirely. I could hardly watch the warm-up test matches earlier in the year or the pool matches earlier in the tournament for fear that Richie McCaw or Jerry Collins et al would break a leg or something.

And, in the name of developing better combinations we all always believed that the 1st XV should play every test, didn’t we? God only knows how Nick Evans or Luke McAlister would have gone at first-five when Dan Carter went off had that happened, or how Andrew Hore, the third choice hooker, would have measured up to the French tight-five given that Kevin Mealamu was unavailable.

So, if not the ref or the coach, who is to blame?

Obviously the players in the first instance. But, I think that in a strange way we bring it on ourselves too … all of us who care.

We all got a little ahead of ourselves.

In the lead-up to the Cup the players talked of needing to win three games in a row. The assumption clearly was that we’d play in all three.

I don’t think anybody, including those on the field, really expected to be playing France in Cardiff. It was supposed to be Ireland or Argentina (two teams we’ve never lost to). It wasn’t supposed to be that tough.

Where was Kapo o Pango? We were saving that for the semi or final were we?

We all got a bit arrogant, and forgot that we have to earn results. That we’re the best team in the world going by past results and rankings counts for no points at all on the scoreboard. It just makes the oppositions victory all the more glorious when it’s achieved.

The reality is that there are five teams who are likely to win a Rugby World Cup: the four that have previously won one and France. If Argentina can knock over South Africa this weekend then they will deserve to be added to this list as a sixth, but that’s a big ask.

Prior to last weekend we were the only one of those five countries who hadn’t previously been knocked out in a quarter-final. Our win against South Africa in 2003 was the only other time we’ve come up against one of the top five in a quarter-final. (Interestingly the last three winners of the World Cup were knocked out in the quarter-finals in the World Cup prior to the one they won, and South Africa, who must now be favourite to win this one, was knocked out in the quarter-finals in 2003 by us, so there is a pattern threatening to develop there. Perhaps NZ v Australia in 2011 eh?)

Here are our results against these top five teams in previous World Cup matches:

  • 1987: v France in the final – won 29-9
  • 1991: v England in pool play – won 18-12
  • 1991: v Australia in the semi-finals – lost 16-6
  • 1995: v England in the semi-finals – won 45-29
  • 1995: v South Africa in the finals – lost 15-12 in extra-time
  • 1999: v England in pool play – won 30-16
  • 1999: v France in the semi-finals – lost 43-31
  • 2003: v South Africa in the quarter-finals – won 29-9
  • 2003: v Australia in the semi-finals – lost 22-10

So, 5 wins & 4 losses (3 wins & 4 losses in knock-out situations).

Including last Sunday’s result makes it 5 wins & 5 losses. Hardly the basis for the overwhelming confidence we all felt leading into the tournament.

What’s the definition of arrogance?

In fact all five teams are surprisingly even when compared this way:

  • Australia: 7 wins & 4 losses
  • England: 5 wins & 6 losses
  • South Africa: 4 wins & 3 losses
  • France: 2 wins & 5 losses

Australia is the best of the bunch, with their two World Cup victories. France is the worst, their only two wins are at our expense, and they are the only one of the five yet to win the Cup (I honestly hope will win this one … if for nothing else, to prevent South Africa or England winning another!).

At least one of those teams is going to lose again in the next 24 hours.

We all expect the All Blacks to win every game. If Graham Henry had taken a second-rate All Blacks team to France and gotten thumped prior to the World Cup then we wouldn’t have let any of them back in the country. No such problems for Bernard Laporte it seems – they made him Minister of Sport!

The problem is our expectations are just not based on reality.

And, in the heat of battle they surely weigh a bloke down, no?

I can’t help but think the complete lack of composure and loss of structure the All Blacks suffered in the final 20 minutes wasn’t in some way all of our fault.

Reconditioned?

I just wrote this …

I was living in the UK during the Rugby World Cup in 2003 when England became the first Northern Hempishpere team to win.

(As an aside, I was also living in Australia in 1999 when the All Blacks got beaten by France in the semis and Australia went on to win. All Blacks fans will be pleased to hear I’m planning on staying in NZ for the next six weeks!)

One of the things that kept me sane in the land of Jonny Wilkinson during those dark days was Inky.

I’ve talked before here about his weekly missives.

Steve, a reader from the US, has pointed out to me that Inky’s updates have dried up since the end of the Tri-Nations.

I find it hard to believe that at the start of the World Cup Inky doesn’t have an opinion to share.

Can anybody help?

If you’re reading Inky, we miss you!

And then, this in my inbox …

He’s back, and he’s reconditioned.

Yay!

Steven Kempton: NZRU should buy a UK club team

In a comment to my post about My Football Club, Steven Kempton (a.k.a. The Asia Pacific Headhunter) makes an excellent suggestion:

“I’d prefer NZ did something to try and buy a rugby club in the UK. I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen for years that it’s in the NZRU’s best interests to try and purchase a UK club to extend the AB’s brand and also to give the players an option to play overseas but return, same with coaches. You’re in Wellington Rowan, walk down the road and give Jock Hobbs a word for me…”

Interesting idea! The NZRU model is to contract all players to the national union. This makes for clear priorities: All Blacks, Super 14, then NPC (there is a bit of confusion where the Sevens team fits into this, but I’ll overlook that for now). The European model is quite different. They seem to prefer a football-style setup, where the best players from all over the world are contracted to the European club sides (at massive salaries) and only “released” to play for their national teams at the clubs leisure. As a consequence they are more than happy to pay top dollar/pound to contract the best players from NZ, and really don’t care that the NZRU policy means that these players are then not available for international selection. And it means that international sides that tour NZ in their off-season are often missing many of the top players. One thing is for sure: we don’t have much influence sitting down here and trying to tell them what we think they should do. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! There is lots to like about Steven suggestion:

  • It would diversify the NZRU revenues, and give them direct exposure to the lucrative European market
  • It would provide a logical option to players and coaches who want to live and play in Europe
  • It would give the NZRU a seat at the table in the arm wrestle between clubs and national unions in Europe
  • It would give the thousands of kiwis living in the UK a team to support and a reason to care about the club competitions (I struggled to get excited about this when I was living there)
  • It would provide a hedge against the possibility that the clubs do take control of the game in Europe and severely diminish the appeal of international games outside of the World Cup
  • It would go down like a cup of warm vomit with the RFU and IRB (this reason alone is justification in my opinion)

So, you tell me: why couldn’t this happen? Mr. Hobbs?