Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Matt O'Gonner

Since rugby union went professional, fans have often scoffed as their sport gradually took up some of the less desirable habits of their rival association football.

Crazy salaries or football money as the fans would say has become commonplace in France (Dan Carter is soon to become the first €1 million per annum player) and with the pressure on the salary cap in the Aviva Premiership the same will probably begin to occur in England also. Transfer fees while not common place have begun to raise their head with George Norths' move to Northampton & Steffon Armitages' proposed move to Bath being 2 of the more noteworthy examples of late. There are other examples with Bryan Habana recently accused of diving in an attempt to con a penalty from the referee and that's without comparing 'Bloodgate' to the many tricks football managers are accused of orchestrating from the sidelines.

One ‘Habit’ which up until now has not become the norm in rugby is the release of managers and head coaches mid season. Thankfully one might say Irish rugby fans have been able to look down their nose at those across the channel and the Irish Sea who are making their game more like soccer with their high wages and transfer fees. Alas the next football ‘Habit’ seems about to rare its head in club rugby for the first time only this time it might begin in Ireland.

Club football managerial dismissals across the world have been characterized by fan pressure and mid season dismissals. The reasons generally being a concern for the short term future of the club be that because of relegation or failure to qualify for European competition possibly combined with an uninspiring transfer policy and a style of play which is not aesthetically pleasing.

Until now financial cliff drops due to relegation or competition qualification requirements have not been a feature of rugbys premier domestic and international competitions with the French Top 14 the only real exception (Premiership Rugby has financially protected its founding members during relegation so they don't quite qualify) . However with a new system of qualification and seedings for the Rugby Champions Cup ( Europe's new premium rugby competition) a middling Leinster league campaign may suddenly result in a season where Leinster are very much out of the limelight and possibly a loss making entity when one considers the disparity in income between the Guinness Pro 12 & the Champions Cup. In addition to this reviewing the much reduced media profile of the lower level of European competition will not generate much positive chatter around Donnybrook. On current form Leinster could find themselves competing in that competition next November should their pattern of under performance continue to the 6 nations when they will become shorn of many of their first choice players.

For this reason their January 3rd clash with Ulster (who through IRFU mismanagement have been left in a coaching middle ground themselves) has suddenly become very important. While patient and loyal with many of their former coaches (yes I include Declan Kidney and Eddie O'Sullivan in that observation) the union may well peer at managerial sackings in that other code and decide payoffs and mid season dismissals aren't such nasty words after all. When the bottom line is affected ,being holier than their stadium co-tenants should suddenly become very unimportant.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Sport & Tourism: Tennis

With Operation Garth Brooks  reportedly having a dramatic impact on Ireland's potential to attract large concerts and musical events  in the coming years its seems like an optimum time to look at sport in Ireland and consider its potential or lack of to host successful events in the future which will ultimately attract tourists and revenue to the country.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Munster Cricket A Must For Cricket Ireland

Mils Muliaina's confirmed transfer to Connacht Rugby the IRFU's development province combined with the disappointment of the Irish cricket teams second one day international against Sri Lanka being rained off further confirmed my belief that a fourth Interprovincial cricket team based in Munster needs to be made a priority if the sports potential in Ireland is to be properly maximised.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Humility Is Not The Question

Sipping on my espresso this morning (Or slurping tea if I was to live up to Stephen Jones Munster supporter caricature) I stumbled upon a minor internet storm. Mr Jones in a predictable enough move had wrote a piece suggesting Munster Rugby might ultimately benefit more from their defeat in the State Velodrome than the victory that never came.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Impetus For European Expansion Still Lacking

National Rugby Super League

One of the arguments proffered by the PRL, the umbrella organisation of the English premiership rugby clubs is that the ERC have failed to properly spread rugby throughout Europe. While it is difficult to disagree with this suggestion it is worth noting that nothing from the PRL's governance suggestion, The Six Nations Committee to their proposals for financial distribution indicate that rugby nations outside of the big six in Europe would be any more sure of how to progress towards the top European Club Competition or indeed how to maximise the revenue they can make from European competition in the land of the Rugby Champions Cup.