Obligatory Rugby Related Post As Required By NZ Citizenship Laws

Ok, cards on the table time … I have to admit … I’m not a fan of God’s own game … for all of you non New Zealanders out there, I mean rugby. I know, I know, complete and utter heresy, my running (bad) joke at the moment is that I was evicted from the country because I could not fanatically devote my time to the Men in Black. It’s true. I have no idea what happened in the Super 14 or where Wellington was placed in the NPC this year, I have no idea who is actually in the All Blacks’ World Cup squad and if it weren’t for Chaya telling me that the first AB game was at lunchtime, I probably would’ve missed it. This doesn’t mean that I hate the game or that I activitely go out of my way to avoid it, I’m just not an avid follower … it’s kind of like that cousin of yours who is roughly the same age, lives in the same city, but because you barely have anything in common, you kind of don’t hang out except at big family get togethers and weddings (the conversation is fine but it just can’t sustain a friendship). That’s me and rugby – I show up for World Cups, Hurricanes or Wellington finals and the odd Rugby 7s (well, Wellington and Hong Kong anyway), but can’t be fussed for the rest of it.

Yes, I am a bad, bad New Zealander. I think the nurse forgot to hardwire the rugby loving mircochip into my spine at birth …

What I have found interesting however, is the media furore being whipped up due to the IRB’s decision to restrict reporting rights on the World Cup. In a very amateur nutshell: It’s all about money … like many other sporting organisations, the IRB has developed exclusive rights deals for it’s partner broadcasters and have gone as far as restricting how many photos appear per minute on any non partner website – in order to stop web broadcasts of the games. Those who aren’t partner broadcasters were up in arms, boycotting media events and threatening to boycott the whole event all together. Storm in a world-sized tea cup? Well, kind of. There’s a lot of argument about press freedom, but in this day and age, when related to a commercial venture like the world cup, that’s a bit of bollocks. Exclusive media deals serve both parties well and have been driven by media organisations as much as the sporting bodies themselves – not one of them really cares about what you or I may think, they’re only interested in those of us who are willing to fork out for our sports viewing pleasure, it has never ever been about the good of the viewing public, it’s about how many papers we can sell, what our ratings will be, who we can convince to buy advertising slots from us. In the end, they all came to some amicable arrangement and it’s back to business as usual.

How the IRB will handle this in 2011 will be very interesting. NZ is a long way away from any where and the location is not going to help the promotion of the game so media coverage will be important (cue endless advertisments featuring the All Blacks). Sponsorship is incredibly important to them and the IRB have gone as far as to demand that all stadia be surrounded by a 5km radius which is clear of any tournament-related/associated advertising by unofficial sponsors. The aim is to stop “ambush” advertising (something that Vodafone and Telecom tend to do to each other frequently) but is more likely to affect any local “paint the town black” campaigns. A 5km radius knocks out all of downtown Wellington and I have a feeling that a lot of retailers are going to be pissed that their rates will have paid for something that they won’t even be able to associate themselves with.

Watch this space, for we will be keeping an eye on them …

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One Response to “Obligatory Rugby Related Post As Required By NZ Citizenship Laws”

  1. I stopped supporting rugby when:
    a) I realised that it’s an incredibly stupid thing to get so heartbroken over (ie in 1999 when they didn’t win the WC and it was reported as if the world was about to end),
    b) I realised that it had – in the short years I was a fanatic – gone from being a sport that was about love of the game and parochial/patriotic support, to being about money… more so than was necessary with the professionalisation of the game.

    But yes, come Saturday, having not watched rugby for well over a year, I get sucked in the second the haka starts… *sigh*

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