4 Apr 2007

'Refunction Their Dysfunction'

The head coach of Tonga Rugby Union - Adam Leach - resigned by email on Friday saying that "there is a dysfunctional situation in Tonga, they need to sort out the administration and management of the game over there."

In essence, Leach, who managed to get Tonga into the World Cup Finals, is unhappy with the amount of interference with his team selection, claiming that "the last team chosen was selected not by me but by the board".

He was also unhappy at the amount of political interference and outside influences on his team.

The irony is that, despite all this, the Tonga Rugby Union board haven't accepted his resignation and are very keen for this highly rated Australian to stay as coach - at least until after the World Cup.

I don't know about you but I expect Leach to tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine.

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3 Apr 2007

Race IS An Issue For Springboks

Despite claims last week that South African rugby was past the point of 'quota' systems and were only picking players on merit, it is very clear that race is still a big issue for the 'Boks.

There have even been threats from Butana Komphela, the chairperson of South Africa's parliamentary committee on sport to confiscate the team's passports if "the team is not representative."

By representative, of course, Komphela means that at least six players of a world cup squad of 30 must be players of colour.

Komphela said :
"Six out of 30 is not representative, but it's a good start...In principle we won't allow a team that is not representative of the South African picture to represent the country."

Personally, I think that any kind of quota system in sport is ludicrous. South Africa have some great black and coloured players and these should be in the squad on merit. However, if the coach wants to put out an all-white first 15 for any match in the RWC, then he should feel able to do so.

But I'm willing to bet a pound to a penny (or a rand to a cent, if you prefer) that coach Jake White won't. Pressure at governmental level will force him to have at least 2 or 3 coloured or black players in the first 15.

This wouldn't be an issue at all if there wasn't a good case to be made that the best fifteen 'Boks players are all white.

This, of course, puts the Springboks at a disadvantage before even a tackle has been made in the rugby World Cup.

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2 Apr 2007

Henson Blow For Wales

Full time celebrity and occasional rugby player Gavin Henson's cruciate knee ligament injury now means he won't play again this season.

Unfortunately for the Welsh national team, this means that Henson is now doubtful for the rugby World Cup.

When he's not messing around with Charlotte Church, trying to be the Welsh Posh n' Becks, Henson is a pretty useful player in a number of positions and he would be a big miss for Wales if he doesn't regain fitness in time.

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Jason Robinson Retires...Almost

England and Sale's Jason Robinson has stated he will retire from club rugby at the end of this season and from international rugby after the 2007 World Cup in France.

Although Robinson had already retired from the international game once before, I don't think this will be a Frank Sinatra type retirement this time round.

In my view, Robinson is one of the England 'old guard' who still has something to offer the national team - his performances on the wing for England in the Six Nations showed that. When he finally does retire, he will be missed.

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1 Apr 2007

Global Brand Benchmarking and Other Marketing DoubleSpeak

I must confess that I work in marketing, but I promise you I have never come out with anything resembling this load of old rubbish :

"We take the view there are three pillars the All Black brand is marketed on," says NZRU commercial manager Fraser Holland. "Team performance, history and heritage, and New Zealand and its culture. There is no doubt that performance is the most important pillar."

Um. 'Three pillars' of marketing. Right. Gotcha. Performance. History. Heritage. That's Three.

New Zealand itself. That's the fourth of the three pillars of marketing then.

New Zealand's culture. That would be, what, the 5th of the three marketing pillars, right?

Basically, for those of you who can't be bothered to read the article, New Zealand Rugby Union has found out that the 'All Blacks' are rather a well-known name in countries where rugby is played. More famous than the Springboks. They've also discovered that the All Blacks are less well known in countries that have little interest in rugby.

They presumably paid handsomely for this deep marketing insight. They will use this to sell more shirts to people who don't even like rugby. Genius.