Will the rugby union 'elite' overcome their history and start selling equity in rugby union Super 14 franchises in Australia?
15 years ago the sport was amateur, but now rugby seems to be on a path of private ownership. Check this out in The Weekend Australian and at the Australian Rugby Union's website. For a code best known in this nation as a traditional bastion of conservatism, amateurism and self-declared elitism, this is a most radical step indeed.
Wayne Smith, journalist for The Weekend Australian thinks this step (only 20 or 30 years after any other sport in Australian has tried it-and mostly failed to make it work) will leave the other codes Down Under shaking in their football boots.
I can't quite see that myself Wayne-o old chap. If Super 14s Rugby gets two games on Friday night free to air (FTA) TV (like the National Rugby League), or 700,000 participants (like soccer), or 7 million annual attendees and 1 in 38 Australians as club season ticket holders (like the Australian Footbal League) then maybe. But rugby is a long way off any of that with an operating loss of $4.3 million after operating revenue of $77 million, a third-tier national competiton abandoned after just one season, participation at 190,000 and falling, and limited exposure on FTA TV.