Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why the NZRU should not go to Denver

As was reported while I was on holiday, it appears that Denver is pushing for the long-discussed, never-realised All Blacks match in the US. Over the past two years this has been linked to New York, Chicago, Boston and now Denver.

Well of these places, it most certainly shouldn't go to Chicago or Denver.

Denver has a huge basketball and football college fraternity. Going off anecdotal evidence from an ex-American flatmate of mine, it will be very, very hard to tap into that market. Rugby Union enjoys a small following in the Denver area, and Carl Hayman's long lost brother also lives there, but I think simply running over to Mile High Stadium and hosting a match between two countries that they think are joined together is a dumb idea.

Instead, I would like to see the ARU and NZRU each send an Under-20 or Under-23 team, maybe even a combined Oceania XV, and have them go on a college tour. UCLA have a huge team, as does the University of Connecticut. The UCSC Slugs would be keen for a match I imagine and having seen the BRFC play, I imagine some Air NZ Cup teams would struggle in a match against them, let alone any youth team.

The costs would be a lot lower than sending NZRU contracted players over too, I'd imagine. Heard of billeting? Yeah, I thought so. Oh and you've got a much higher chance of getting a crowd to an eventual All Blacks, Springboks, Wallabies, Welsh, whoever match by getting the kids talking to their parents about it [Imagine 'Hey dayad, I played rogbay agenst some noo zealenderz today. Man, they're fayast'... Ok that was New York, but near enough to Boston.] than just showing up with posters reading 'OMG EXTRAVAGANZA LOLZ COME SEE TWO OF THE BEST TEAMS IN THE WORLD PLAY A SPORT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND'.

Although, it's not like I expect either union to lose money from the venture. If there's something Steve Tew does exceptionally, it is run a business. If anything goes ahead, I expect the USRU will have agreed to pay a lump sum to the ARU and NZRU, with the USRU allowed to keep a percentage of the gate takings. Because it would be a very optimistic or stupid person who decided to expand their sport to other countries without thinking about possible financial repercussions when the fans in that country didn't start rolling up. [Please refer to Exhibit A]

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