Rugby

NZ Rugby vs Rugby Australia – the franchise stats

Well, well, we’ll. Who’d a thunk? NZ Rugby (NZR) is focused on the game, not appearing to be woke. Is it any wonder Australia are unlikely to win the Bledisloe Cup for many more years to come. The investment NZR pour into the All Blacks swamps Rugby Australia’s (RA) pittance into the Wallabies because sponsors and fans see the Kiwi franchise for what it is – a united team of winners with returns!

It shouldn’t surprise us when RA & NZR reveal primary objectives.

Objective 1 in the NZR 2018 Annual Report is “REMAINING ON TOP OF THE WORLD” (p.18)

Objective 1 in RA’s 2018 Annual Report is written as, “For rugby to continue to be a sport of choice in a rapidly changing society…community coaches are responsible…for creating fun, safe and inclusive environments” (p.10).

With that RA mantra, NZR is faced with a longer term dilemma. Because the fans might have to consider they might “get tired of all this winning!”

In all seriousness, NZR should seek to form a new version of the Bledisloe with a worthy adversary in Europe because the Wallabies will drift even further away from being competitive with RA focused on such utter malarkey.

Or to even it up, perhaps the All Blacks under-18s should play the Wallabies?

So why the gap? The numbers between the two are as follows.

RA took in approximately A$30m in licensing and sponsorship last year. NZR raked in A$65m. More than double for a country with one-fifth the population. Think about it. The advertising base is smaller yet the sponsors must see the returns as superior to do so.

Total revenues for RA sum to around A$110m. NZR takes in A$182m in 2018.

Match day revenue for RA reached A$20m last year. NZR collected A$28m.

Total assets for RA sum to A$69m. NZR total assets are A$183m. Total equity for RA is A$27m vs NZR at $99m.

Just looking at financial metrics alone, RA is not going to rebuild this franchise without focusing on what NZ already knows. The business has one sole focus – the pride of a nation.

Should we be surprised that Eden Park has been sold out every game since 1962 when the All Blacks play the Wallabies? That’s a franchise. Maybe RA should ask why Australian based attendance of the same series has drifted 20-35% in the last decade.

Until the Wallabies have a priority that focuses on a winning formula that is driven from the top, expect to see turnstiles become rusty.

Pathetic really. This is exactly why the RA board and leadership need a complete overhaul. Amateurs playing against professionals. Get woke. Go broke.

If private health funds want to gain new customers…

If private health funds in Australia want to gain a lot of new business and waive some waiting periods for long term customers of HCF, they’ll stampede to their door. Strike while their competitor gets woke.

HCF joins the list of brainless corporates having to come out and show it doesn’t support the actions of Israel Folau’s wife, Maria in standing by her husband. The irony is she hasn’t said anything. Shame on her for trying to defend the couple’s livelihood.

HCF, sponsors of the Australian Netball series, said, “We appreciate the complexities of the Folau matter and acknowledge that views do differ in the community, however, we do not support Maria Folau’s stance on this matter.

If Maria Folau said she believed in mass murder, would Australians need direction from HCF to know the right path? Since when did corporates feel compelled to enforce moral and ethical codes on customers?

Corporate Australia is becoming a laughing stock. Does HCF honestly believe its customers are going to quit in droves if they don’t say something woke? It’s no better than ANZ preaching moral codes, although the bank comes from a greater history of scandal, as the Hayne Banking Royal Commission revealed.

Tell you what, if Medibank Private, nib or another private health insurer offer to waive the waiting periods, CM will happily transfer the $400/month to them from HCF.

HCF, not interested in your moral preening.

NSW Chair pleads for a truce

Could it be that those who are fed up with political correctness have proved their pockets are way deeper than Rugby Australia (RA) ever imagined? For the Rugby NSW Chair Roger Davis to pipe up that, “the game is paying too high a price for RA to be proved right in this matter” speaks volumes. Sounds like fear that RA might lose.

The ACL suspended the Folau fund raising as it went over $2m in two days. Now he can comfortably fund an excellent team of silks to prosecute the case against RA. Plenty more ammunition behind that one imagines too. RA is outgunned unless Qantas intends to deploy shareholder capital?!?

Once again, this has moved way beyond Folau’s contractual dispute. People are fed up with the lecturing from the left. Regardless of whether one agrees with what he said or not or the GoFundMe stunt, the people have spoken with their wallets. They don’t want to have corporates tell them how or what to say or behavioral awareness officers at the games marshaling their stress outlets.

Rugby Australia’s problems started way before Folau’s tweets. The attendance and performance of the Wallabies stems from the incompetence at the top. The numbers are abysmal. The identity politics obsessed board which keeps a coach despite the worst track record in the team’s history. Australia will be lucky to make the play offs.

As David rightly said, It’s not about rights or wrongs now, it’s about pragmatics. I don’t think rugby should be defining freedom of religion rights or freedom of expression rights. I don’t think it’s our job,

Exactly. Which is why $2m was lined up to let RA know it should drop all of the gender and identity political garbage period and focus on who pays the bills – the fans.

ACL raised $660,000 for Izzy

As it stands, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has helped raise $660,000 for Israel Folau in only a day since GoFundMe (GFM) pulled his $715,000 crowd funding site down.

What did people honestly expect? That they would stop Folau dead in his tracks by ganging up on GFM to back down? All These activists managed to do was to ram a hot poker into a previously sleeping giant.

It is highly doubtful that the majority of those that stumped up cash are homophobes in any way. It is way beyond that. It is much more about a protest against the constant political correctness that is thrust in our faces on a daily basis. There is a pecking order in identity politics and the majority are usually the least considered.

The people that donated want to protect freedoms – speech, religious or otherwise – and they’re sick and tired of being lectured by hypocrites. The double standards of these corporations are sickening. CSR is a buzzword but it has two distinct features – to bash companies who don’t conform to activist ideals or the creation of crony capitalism. We’ve already seen the backlash against corporates who get “woke” e.g. Gillette.

It doesn’t matter whether Folau’s crowd funding is viewed as a stunt or how inane his religious beliefs might seem to mainstream Aussies. What matters to them is they can voice dissenting opinions without recrimination. Folau’s dismissal is now but a minor issue in the crowd funding saga. The natives are restless as they’ve grown tired of apologists finding new ways to “shame” their difference in opinions.

CM is hopeful that Folau sends Rugby Australia (RA) into receivership to remove the cabal that runs it. Australian rugby is in tatters because it is not run for the fans but for identity and gender based politics, a role no one has asked it to enforce. The woeful attendance and dismal record of the Wallabies attests to this gross mismanagement. Like Cricket Australia at the time of the ball tampering scandal, RA needs a clean out. Folau will be the catalyst.

The woke never get it. Another self inflicted wound.

Industry gets the management it deserves

What did the Rugby Australia (RA) board expect from Israel Folau? That he’d crawl away into obscurity? CM has long held the RA’s handling of this affair has been about as good as the Wallabies on-field performance under Michael Cheika, the coach with the worst record in the history of the team.

Industry gets the management it deserves. Bad outcomes come from poor decisions at the top. RA CEO Raelene Castle’s performance in this affair has revealed she has no crisis management credentials. If Folau ends up bankrupting RA then management didn’t weigh the risks properly when they terminated him for a supposed “high-level breach”.

Recall RA tried to buy Israel Folau off with a $1m shut-up cheque but his religious beliefs weren’t for sale. Folau reached out to former Wallaby and fellow devout Christian, Nick Farr-Jones, who concluded after an intense grilling that his faith was authentic. Did the board take into account NF-J’s testimony? 

The RA’s decision smacks of the spineless virtue signalling that pervades our corporates today. It folds at the first sign of social media activist pressure. It might bang on about “inclusivity” but it practices exclusivity. One wonders if a player from another religion tweeted “apostasy is death” the board would have sung an entirely different tune. It would have said, “we respect all views.

Then we saw the hypocrisy of NRL Chairman Peter Beattie who spoke of the importance of inclusion and freedom of speech (when it comes to players protesting the national anthem) despite affirming that Folau would never play rugby league. So which is it? Whose freedom of speech is free? Beattie even argued that the Folau Twitter post still remained up. If he took it down would the NRL sign him up? Not a chance.

As CM wrote in the last dispatch, RA’s #1 priority does not appear to be rugby. The website is flush with identity politics. Such as this:

MCC works with influential leaders and encourages them to take action towards gender equality. 

Rugby Australia is a proud supporter of MCC and our Chief Executive Raelene Castle has recently been appointed as a Special Advisor on the MCC Sport program. 

This program aims to enhance the involvement of women in all aspects of sport and works with key stakeholders to achieve pay equity.

What has this got to do with managing the Wallabies franchise? Too much focus on irrelevant things that will not turn around the continual losses in the business because the key ingredient that generates revenue – a winning team is second fiddle.

RA folded at the foot of the sponsor, Qantas. A sponsor has the rights to be represented in certain ways but how little confidence must RA have in its ability to attract new backers? Cricket Australia snagged Alinta Energy after the ball-tampering scenario. CM reckons the Adani Wallabies has a nice ring to it.

RA is not run for its fans. Player David Pocock was arrested and charged for chaining himself to a piece of heavy equipment but Folau was fired for quoting a passage from the Bible.

It is quite likely that Folau’s bid in the High Court will succeed. Our constitution enshrines free speech. Whether we like what he said or not is irrelevant. We either support it or we don’t.

Maybe RA needs a total clean out? Perhaps sending in the receivers would see the appointment of someone who loves the game and reconnects with the fans, not waste time trying to enforce identity politics on them.  RA was set up for one purpose. To win.

Why not look at the yardstick of attendance? Why is it since 1962, Eden Park in Auckland is always at full capacity when the beloved All Blacks play? Because the team is so dominant. Why is attendance at Stadium Australia at 65~80% of available seats when it used to be 100% in 2002-2009? Why have Super Rugby attendance figures slumped t to around 11,000 per game vs 35,000 for Aussie Rules and 15,000 for NRL? Even A-League soccer gets average game attendances of 12,500. There is a message here RA. You are not connecting with the flock.

Perhaps Izzy Folau is reciting in prayer for the fans;

For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Castle tackles inclusivity with exclusivity

The board of Rugby Australia (RA) has capitulated at the altar of political correctness. CEO Raelene Castle unconvincingly announced the reasons why Israel Folau’s contract has been terminated. This is a board that acted on external activism. It buckled. Castle squirmed around the question of whether sponsors had applied pressure or not. What Folau said was unnecessary but how is it other players can get arrested and get away with a written warning?

Ultimately, RA will feel the wrath at the ticket office from already disgruntled paying fans. Attendance continues to slide. RA losses are expected for 2019 following the losses in 2017. The 2018 profit was merely due to an exceptional item. Perhaps Folau’s termination will help plug the hole in the P&L. No wonder losses are being made, given the pitiful performances led by a man with the worst record of any Wallabies coach. Why is he still there?

Australia will be lucky to make it beyond the quarterfinals at the Rugby World Cup in Japan this year. Yet the CEO and board tolerate his woeful record. CM has long argued Michael Cheika can’t unite that team. His record proves it. His team rally behind him publicly but their faces tell a different story.

Castle is out of her depth. She might have cried inclusiveness but there was no conviction in the press conference. Inclusiveness, to many of those on the left, is limited to whatever they prescribe. Stray from the party line and get excluded. Her eyes said it all in the press conference – she is definitely no crisis manager.

Folau, on the other hand, didn’t accept a $1m buy off to walk away so RA could wash their hands of the matter. He stuck and continues to stick to his faith. Hopefully, he takes it all the way to the High Court to leave RA with more egg on its face.

Let’s be clear. Folau hasn’t called for violence against homosexuals. Yet why is it just that group that is singled out as victims? CM ticked a few boxes on his tweet. Surely CM’s right to feeling oppressed is just as valid on the faux outrage scale. Where are the drunkards, adulterers and fornicators calling for his head? Nowhere. With good reason. Because 99.9% of people probably rolled their eyes at the tweet and moved on.

Look at RA’s Male Champions of Change (MCC) program. This is the focus of RA and it is not rugby. RA’s website openly states the following,

MCC works with influential leaders and encourages them to take action towards gender equality. 

Rugby Australia is a proud supporter of MCC and our Chief Executive Raelene Castle has recently been appointed as a Special Advisor on the MCC Sport program. 

This program aims to enhance the involvement of women in all aspects of sport and works with key stakeholders to achieve pay equity.

What on earth could have possessed RA to hire an activist as CEO? Castle also promotes on the RA website:

I have seen the challenges first hand and I have a personal passion to ensure that the gender equality discussion is at the forefront across all aspects of our society.

Quite frankly 99% of her customers couldn’t care less about RA’s stance on gender equality nor the group’s wish to drive it across society. They want to see good rugby. They d not see it as RA’s job to tell them how to behave. RA is answering questions nobody is asking.  If female coaches are better than the males, no male rugby supporter will care if the team is quite literally putting scores on the board. No one needs or wants RA’s activism which also extends to male domestic violence. How about female domestic violence against men? Take a look at the stats. Let’s just beat up on toxic masculinity because it is easier.

Where was the board when Wallabies flanker David Pocock encouraged school kids to join the climate strike or retweeted posts mocking climate skeptics? Is his climate activism ranked above Folau’s quoting of a religious text? Did RA do anything when Pocock was arrested for chaining himself to an excavator for 10 hours at the Maules Creek mine? He was charged with “trespass, remaining on enclosed land without lawful excuse and hindering the working of mining equipment.” Raelene Castle wasn’t CEO at the time but Cameron Clyne, Paul McLean and Ann Sherry were and still are board members. Where is the balance in sanctions handed out?

Let’s not forget the double standards of Pocock. He can find it in his heart to play for a team that is sponsored by Qantas which emits more carbon dioxide per passenger-kilometre than any other airline operating across the Pacific, according to an analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation. Oh, the irony that he also happily played for a team that was sponsored by gas-guzzling Land Rover SUVs. Nary a peep from the climate activist when it lines his pockets.

What will the other devout Christian Pacific Islanders do? Will they leave the Wallabies en masse? They’re good enough to find homes in other sides. The Japanese would welcome them.

If the RA board think they’ve reached a moral high ground in this decision they’re seriously mistaken. Trying to pay him off was the first big mistake because his faith trumped their expediency. They thought he was all bluster, just like the players who threatened to boycott the team if he remained. Folau wasn’t for sale.

CM has repeatedly said that Folau’s remarks in a public forum were unnecessary but defends his right to say them.

Castle’s decision is a perfect representation of the growing trend of allowing virtue signaling to infect a board which will spectacularly backfire. This is no different to Gillette, Colgate and other brands trying to do moral preening. People want the product. Start throwing lashings of political correctness and watch customers desert them. Footy Show anyone? Trying to be a ‘woke’ corporate is the closest thing to sleepwalking off a cliff.

Let these poor people grieve in peace!

Image result for canterbury crusaders

Now it seems that the Canterbury Crusaders rugby union team is getting pressure to change the name in the wake of the horrible events of last week in Christchurch. At what point will activists stop creating outrage where none had existed to date? Can they cite one incidence of the NZ Muslim community demanding the 9x Super Rugby champions change it for the sheer offence it triggered among them before this tragedy? No. Would rebranding it the Sultans help redress the balance in the eyes of these apparatchiks? Let these poor people grieve without this politically correct nonsense to deal with! Where is the compassion? Where is the respect? Stop politicizing this tragedy to grief signal.

There have been numerous atrocities caused against the Muslim community around the world and even then we never heard the Islamic councils in NZ  murmur a word against changing the name of a professional sports club. Probably suggests the majority were already well above such trivialities and probably didn’t see any relevance. All Blacks legend Sonny Bill Williams, who converted to Islam in 2009, played for the Crusaders in 2011. He did not raise any issues against the club based on his learnings. Surely he should have rejected the contract if he thought it would create a problem for his brothers and sisters. He didn’t. Although he did take exception to having Bank of NZ sponsorship displays on his uniform as it conflicted with his religious beliefs on institutions that charge interest. So he has proved he is across his subject matter. Are the activists?

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge, posted on the team website the following.

Like all New Zealanders, the Crusaders team and organisation are deeply shocked by this tragedy and our thoughts are with the victims and their families. This is bigger than rugby and we’re absolutely heartbroken for our wider community, which is where our thoughts are.
 
In terms of the Crusaders name, we understand the concerns that have been raised. For us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community. What we stand for is the opposite of what happened in Christchurch on Friday; our crusade is one for peace, unity, inclusiveness and community spirit.
 
In our view, this is a conversation that we should have and we are taking on board all of the feedback that we are receiving, however, we also believe that the time for that is not right now. Emotions are very raw and real at the moment. There is the need for this community to wrap our support around those who are most affected by Friday’s events, and that is the immediate focus for the Crusaders team. At an appropriate time, we will thoroughly consider the issues that have been raised and our response to that. That will include conversations with a range of people, including our Muslim community.
 
This team and the wider organisation are united with our community in standing against such abhorrent acts as that which occurred on Friday in Christchurch, and in standing in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters.” 

CM truly hopes that the Crusaders hold the line and refuse to buy into this political pressure. Good on the CEO made these sensible remarks. The club has never pushed a narrative other than playing rugby. Why then must it being singled out for demonization like this? Are we to believe that there are no Crusaders rugby fans that happen to be Muslim? While the activists are at it perhaps the Newcastle Knights and St George Illawarra Dragons should remove these symbols of Christianity from their logos to show their solidarity across the ditch. How did devout Muslim Hazem El Masri ever play for the Canterbury Bulldogs given that canines are considered impure? Can the social justice warriors answer that? 

There is a strong betting that the NZ Muslim community won’t ask for a change in the name of the Crusaders when things settle down if and when it gets to such a conversation. One can be confident it will be so far down the list of priorities. Far more pressing issues to help with the healing process after this senseless act than meddling with a professional sports club.