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Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby thatrugbyguy » Sat, 14 Apr 2018, 11:34

Maybe the British and Irish folks can chime in here but is there any reason a UK/Irish League never happened? You would have thought once the game turned professional a UK/Irish league would have been something all 4 unions would have gravitated towards.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby amz » Sat, 14 Apr 2018, 11:46

So we finished discussing here T2 grow, everything is well there and now we try to solve T1 issues? :p

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby Armchair Fan » Sat, 14 Apr 2018, 12:09

It's probably more productive

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby jservuk » Sat, 14 Apr 2018, 15:35

Thomas wrote:There used to be several Professional teams in the NorthWest, there is always an issue due the tribalism of the Rugby Codes since Rugby League is well entrenched there and Union has always struggled. Sale is just outside of Manchester but they should be more international matches up there. Last time England played up there was against Argentina many years ago if memory serves me right. I think it was at Old Trafford there could have been a more recent match but cannot remember,

With WASPS moving to Coventry would be interested to see how the Midlands are affected in the future particularly Birmingham.


Wasps and Sale - 2 clubs that took on incumbent well established football clubs.

For Sale it backfired.

Wasps is a blue print for growing the sport in England - find Rugby friendly councils that own football grounds and buy them on the cheap, then kick the football club out of its own home (over time). In Covertry's case even go after the football clubs training ground.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby Grayday88 » Sat, 14 Apr 2018, 17:06

thatrugbyguy wrote:Maybe the British and Irish folks can chime in here but is there any reason a UK/Irish League never happened? You would have thought once the game turned professional a UK/Irish league would have been something all 4 unions would have gravitated towards.


I have wondered this myself I guess that the Irish are content with the Pro 14 then they can rest the best players and focus on the National team.Compare the minutes Irish players have played this year and look at the English players

Btw someone mentioned earlier about Ulster being a problem. As an Ulster fan I have to agree attendances are likely to drop massively next year probably below 10,000 due to frustration with how the club is being run.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby sk 88 » Sat, 14 Apr 2018, 17:21

thatrugbyguy wrote:Maybe the British and Irish folks can chime in here but is there any reason a UK/Irish League never happened? You would have thought once the game turned professional a UK/Irish league would have been something all 4 unions would have gravitated towards.



So its one of those things that seems obvious on a map but in real life was never a real option. There were very few links with club's in Scotland, and practically none in Ireland. There are no major Anglo-Scottish leagues (Basketball and Ice Hockey I think?) and no real "culture" of a British League in anything. Ireland is a totally separate country, I'd say you see more about USA, French, German politics and sport than Irish in the media. The English structure had basically exploded in growth from its inception in 1987 and professionalism came at pretty much the perfect time.

After the Cardiff-Swansea rebel season we almost got an Anglo-Welsh league and 4 places in the Premiership were offered but for reasons I can't properly remember the WRU bought the clubs off with a "Loyalty Agreement" and put them into a league with Scotland's four district sides instead. I think there was a dispute about who would be the 4 clubs and how quickly the rest of the pyramids would be merged but can't remember properly.

Basically Ireland is a properly foreign country whilst Wales is really close and play in English leagues in cricket and football so the idea is pretty natural.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 00:32

Manchester hosted England vs Uruguay in the 2015 RWC. There are almost none opportunities to see the English national team outside Twickenham...

Today the Lancashire has just Sale Sharks in the Premiership/Championship (currently no pro rugby in Liverpool), while Yorkshire has Yorkshire (Leeds) Carnegie and Doncaster in the Championship (Rotherham too, but they will be relegated)... and the Championship is in a really sad condition... Orrell, Waterloo, Liverpool St. Helens, Otley, all of them are out. I am not counting Newcastle are because it has always been a Union area.

Wasps is in Coventry now, ok, but Birmingham itself has no clubs in the Premiership or the Championship and never sees the English national team.
Last edited by victorsra on Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 02:04, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby thatrugbyguy » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 01:02

sk 88 wrote:So its one of those things that seems obvious on a map but in real life was never a real option. There were very few links with club's in Scotland, and practically none in Ireland. There are no major Anglo-Scottish leagues (Basketball and Ice Hockey I think?) and no real "culture" of a British League in anything. Ireland is a totally separate country, I'd say you see more about USA, French, German politics and sport than Irish in the media. The English structure had basically exploded in growth from its inception in 1987 and professionalism came at pretty much the perfect time.

After the Cardiff-Swansea rebel season we almost got an Anglo-Welsh league and 4 places in the Premiership were offered but for reasons I can't properly remember the WRU bought the clubs off with a "Loyalty Agreement" and put them into a league with Scotland's four district sides instead. I think there was a dispute about who would be the 4 clubs and how quickly the rest of the pyramids would be merged but can't remember properly.

Basically Ireland is a properly foreign country whilst Wales is really close and play in English leagues in cricket and football so the idea is pretty natural.


You would have thought given the history of the 5/6 Nations as well as the Lions Tours that rugby may have been a reasonable exception to this norm, especially from a commercial perspective. But I guess if a UK/Irish League did happen then the European tournaments would have evolved to be something much different.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 02:28

Rebels vs Jaguares 2018 Attendance 14 April 5,538 (Rebels 22-25 Jaguares) :oops:
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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby thatrugbyguy » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 06:54

Conditions were pretty awful to be fair.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby DragonMike » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 08:18

The west midlands and north west conurbations dont have a huge history of rugby union. Specifically, Sales roots are in rural cheshire, south of manchester. The major senior clubs in the west midlands are located around the fringes of the urban areas. Coventry is an exception, and the major urban club was always birmingham moseley, who are one of the casualties of the early professional era and ongoing mismanagement since then. South and east london also have a very limited tradition of rugby, most clubs are in the nw or sw, and private schools play.

If you compare this for example with bath and around bristol, you see more rugby posts than football driving around, especially in bath. A town of 80k has c.10-20 mens clubs and the 20+ schools, while the football team is in division x. If that were repeated across england they would be unstoppable.... So there is still huge potential to grow...

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby Thomas » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 08:58

I agree with DragonMike, Coventry is about to get promoted to the championship. Now Wasps camping there will make things interesting.

I for one never happy about the move. It was all about the money and stadia.

There is a problem in the Southeast with no professional team in the catchment area. All teams are north of the river or the South West.

Newcastle and Cumbria and the Northeast have a great Rugby tradition.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby vino_93 » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 10:50

victorsra wrote:- France - North (apart from Paris) not represented in professional rugby - and of course the FFR-LNR relations;


You're wrong about north not represented outside of Paris. You have of course two clubs in Paris (or close suburbs) : Stade Français and Racing. Then you have Massy, in Paris southern suburbs - not exactly Paris, even if it is the same area.
But in Pro D2 you have Vannes too, which is in Brittany. On the border between North and South, you have Nevers (in Burgundy, so usually told as Northern part).

And if you go under, you have many projects who are growing. But we are not a closed shop. You need to climb step by step. Lille was close to become professionnal, but due to bad management disappeared.
Now some big cities have a project, who wants to go in Pro D2. The closest in Rouen (Normandy), which is financially allow to go to Pro D2 - now let's do it on the field. Then you have Strasbourg (Alsace), which is in Elite but still not financially ready. These two want to climb asap.
Then in Fédérale 1, 2 and 3, you have some other ambitious projets. Let's talk about Nantes (Pays de la Loire), Rennes (Britanny), Beauvais (Picardy), Beaune, Mâcon and Dijon (Burgundy), Le Havre (Normandy) and so on ... things are going better and better for clubs there. They are able to find big amounts of money, and to compete with southern places. They have great stadiums, using (old) football places.

I guess France is the best example of rugby development into a country. Which was mainly a regional sport, in the south-west part of the country (+ some strongholds in south-east and Paris), is now the number 2 sport in France. It drains a lot of money everywhere. TV rights are very high. There are 30 fully professionnal clubs, and many other who want to join them - even in the south, where new projects are rising. The number of youths playing in northern part have rised a lot the last 20 years. A good job.


Now of course, there are many problemes between FFR and LNR ... even if I guess LNR has understood that without a strong national team, everything that have been achieved can be dismissed in the same time...

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby sk 88 » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 10:59

victorsra wrote:Manchester hosted England vs Uruguay in the 2015 RWC. There are almost none opportunities to see the English national team outside Twickenham...

Today the Lancashire has just Sale Sharks in the Premiership/Championship (currently no pro rugby in Liverpool), while Yorkshire has Yorkshire (Leeds) Carnegie and Doncaster in the Championship (Rotherham too, but they will be relegated)... and the Championship is in a really sad condition... Orrell, Waterloo, Liverpool St. Helens, Otley, all of them are out. I am not counting Newcastle are because it has always been a Union area.

Wasps is in Coventry now, ok, but Birmingham itself has no clubs in the Premiership or the Championship and never sees the English national team.


Sale is actually in Cheshire not Lancashire, though Salford (where they play currently) is in Lancashire.

1 point to remember is that these areas produce plenty of players, there are approx 275 senior English raised players in the Prem (so counting someone like Greig Tonks who has Scotland caps but comes from Nottinghamshire), and England's four rugby regions/divisions have roughly the same population, the Midlands has produced 45 players, the North 72 players, the South East 85, the South West 73.

What harms the other Northern clubs is what helps Sale and Newcastle. The academy system funnels all the good players from 14 onward into their academy and eventually first team if they are good. If you take Darlington as an example the area produces more players than Newcastle itself but all those guys go into Newcastle's system at 14. Doncaster/South Yorkshire to Leeds is another example.

I think placing more academies in the North would be the best place to start. The academies at the moment are 5 in the "South West": Exeter, Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, London Irish*; 3 in the South East: London Irish*, Harlequins, Saracens; 4 in the Midlands: Worcester, Wasps, Leicester, Northampton and 3 in the North: Sale, Leeds and Newcastle.

*Irish covers large areas in the "South West" (Hampshire) and in London.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 11:45

vino_93 wrote:
victorsra wrote:- France - North (apart from Paris) not represented in professional rugby - and of course the FFR-LNR relations;


You're wrong about north not represented outside of Paris. You have of course two clubs in Paris (or close suburbs) : Stade Français and Racing. Then you have Massy, in Paris southern suburbs - not exactly Paris, even if it is the same area.
But in Pro D2 you have Vannes too, which is in Brittany. On the border between North and South, you have Nevers (in Burgundy, so usually told as Northern part).

And if you go under, you have many projects who are growing. But we are not a closed shop. You need to climb step by step. Lille was close to become professionnal, but due to bad management disappeared.
Now some big cities have a project, who wants to go in Pro D2. The closest in Rouen (Normandy), which is financially allow to go to Pro D2 - now let's do it on the field. Then you have Strasbourg (Alsace), which is in Elite but still not financially ready. These two want to climb asap.
Then in Fédérale 1, 2 and 3, you have some other ambitious projets. Let's talk about Nantes (Pays de la Loire), Rennes (Britanny), Beauvais (Picardy), Beaune, Mâcon and Dijon (Burgundy), Le Havre (Normandy) and so on ... things are going better and better for clubs there. They are able to find big amounts of money, and to compete with southern places. They have great stadiums, using (old) football places.

I guess France is the best example of rugby development into a country. Which was mainly a regional sport, in the south-west part of the country (+ some strongholds in south-east and Paris), is now the number 2 sport in France. It drains a lot of money everywhere. TV rights are very high. There are 30 fully professionnal clubs, and many other who want to join them - even in the south, where new projects are rising. The number of youths playing in northern part have rised a lot the last 20 years. A good job.


Now of course, there are many problemes between FFR and LNR ... even if I guess LNR has understood that without a strong national team, everything that have been achieved can be dismissed in the same time...

Yes I know about Massy and Vannes, the growth of Rouen and the bankruption of Lille. I used the wrong word: it is underrepresented. We don't know about North rising continuity until non-Parisian clubs reach Top14. I hope it will be a success but I needed to highlight it.
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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby vino_93 » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 14:20

Still a long way to reach Top 14. I guess, being reassonable, not before a 5-8 years window. You need to climb in Fédérale 1 (easiest task with money), but then develop all the required structure, find the money, beat strong opponents with pro structures. Then not being relegated from Pro D2. Not easy, it's a strong championship, wiith every clubs more or less at the same level. I hope this year Rouen can be promoted, even if it might be hard for them next year.

But with the end of élite, that's the best year to jump. Next year clubs will have a less competitive championship. The gap will be bigger...

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby sk 88 » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 14:33

Are they re-forming Federale 1 again then?

I liked the parallel structure of pro clubs in one pool and non-pro clubs playing in another.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby Armchair Fan » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 15:01

On paper it was great, but then they found out that even supposed 'pro' clubs weren't matching financial requirements to be promoted.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 15:36

vino_93 wrote:Still a long way to reach Top 14. I guess, being reassonable, not before a 5-8 years window. You need to climb in Fédérale 1 (easiest task with money), but then develop all the required structure, find the money, beat strong opponents with pro structures. Then not being relegated from Pro D2. Not easy, it's a strong championship, wiith every clubs more or less at the same level. I hope this year Rouen can be promoted, even if it might be hard for them next year.

But with the end of élite, that's the best year to jump. Next year clubs will have a less competitive championship. The gap will be bigger...

The great thing about Rouen is that it is a big urban area without a strong football club.
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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby sk 88 » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 16:04

Armchair Fan wrote:On paper it was great, but then they found out that even supposed 'pro' clubs weren't matching financial requirements to be promoted.


Ahh, that's a shame. But predictable. France's financial requirements always seem a bit over strict to me.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby vino_93 » Sun, 15 Apr 2018, 16:29

sk 88 wrote:
Armchair Fan wrote:On paper it was great, but then they found out that even supposed 'pro' clubs weren't matching financial requirements to be promoted.


Ahh, that's a shame. But predictable. France's financial requirements always seem a bit over strict to me.

Well, I don"t think. When you are pro, you have duties. You need to be pay all your employees for a season - staff, players, administration, youths staff, ...
Currently in Fédérale 1 you are free. You don't have employees outside your staff / a few administration people.
Players are paid, but not employed by clubs. That costs much money to become fully pro.
I prefer financially safe clubs than what you have in England where everylone is losing money...

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby Figaro » Mon, 16 Apr 2018, 08:49

Obstacles to a B&I league:

- It's not completely clear what the English have to gain from it. The English already have enough teams for a pro league on their own and any expansion would realistically require a change to a conference system (not popular or familiar in European sport, and, before this season's Pro14, no precedents). A conference system would mean a similar number of games (product) split between a greater number of teams; not profitable if the extra cash brought in by the added teams was less than their share of the new pot, and all the Celtic nations are smaller markets than England so effectively this would probably have meant the English sides individually making less money than in an English-only system, even if the total pot was bigger (effectively the English subsidising the others).
- Promotion and relegation. If the non-English teams got relegated then those countries would have fewer teams at the top level than at present. If the non-English teams were ringfenced, the English sides would (rightly) resent that they had to risk relegation whilst some of their opponents didn't. Or, you'd get rid of promotion and relegation altogether and have to ringfence the entire competition.
- Conflicts between privately owned clubs and union-run franchises. Although some of the Pro14 teams are privately owned to a greater or lesser degree, all of them have far more union involvement than the arms-length relationship between the RFU and the Premiership clubs. The 4 Welsh teams invited to join back in the early 2000s would have been private clubs, but regionalisation quashed that.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Mon, 16 Apr 2018, 12:32

All those points make a lot of sense. The only reason for a BIL would be more money for the league... But it looks like woudn't be the case.
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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby gambass » Mon, 16 Apr 2018, 13:30

victorsra wrote:The great thing about Rouen is that it is a big urban area without a strong football club.


Take it as you want, but Rouen RC president said a few weeks ago that he was aiming for Top 14.

The issue facing Rouen and other similar ambitious club is the step between Fédérale 1 and Pro D2. Having 40-48 clubs fighting for only two spots means that you have to lose money for a long time (or to be very lucky) before you finally reach the professionnal ranks which turns out to be discouraging for many or simply too late when it finally happens (as in Lille's case).

The number of professionnal teams (30) has been set in the early 2000's, and doesn't match anymore the reality of present day rugby. It has to grow, nothing too big, but if we had 34-36 pro teams with a possible expansion to ~40 teams it would fix many of the problems facing Rouen and others. Unfortunatly, it doesn't seem to be on LNR's radar.

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Re: Growing rugby in Tier 1 nations

Postby victorsra » Mon, 16 Apr 2018, 15:34

At least France has Pro D2 which is much richer than England's Championship.
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