Two stories caught my eye in this morning’s sports news.
Crusaders report $1.15 million surplus
Crusaders pick up Tipoki
I think it’s funny how the [Canterbury] Crusaders have called the $1.15 million a “surplus” and not a “profit”, which is what it really is.
The figure, which was up $260,000 on last year’s surplus of $890,000, reflected the strong support the Crusaders received from commercial partners and fans during the team's run to the inaugural Super 14 title.
"It's a very pleasing result and reflects the strong backing the team has had from throughout the franchise region," Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said.
I imagine he said that through clenched teeth. Because then he had to say this:
…all of the surplus would be distributed back to the Crusaders catchment area – the rugby unions of Buller, West Coast, Tasman, Mid-Canterbury, South Canterbury and Canterbury.
Any guesses as to who is going to get the largest share of the money? Why not spread it out evenly? This is profit remember, all of the Jade Stadium upkeep costs etc have already been paid for. So give each union $190,000 and let them use it to develop their players and coaches (who are just as much important).
So let us assume that, for some reason, the large and very rich Canterbury union will get the largest amount of profit share. What are they going to do with this new wealth?
Bad boy Rua Tipoki has been recruited to stiffen up the Crusaders' midfield.
Despite the slightly homo-erotic wording above*, I believe this is a good move for both the Crusaders and Tipkoi. Next year all of the All Blacks will be rested from the first few weeks of the Super 14 meaning some teams will be gasping for depth at certain positions. One of these is Canterbury.
*Dom chimed in with this: “they want Tipoki to put a firm grip on what was a bit of a soft spot for the crusaders this year.”
Aaron Mauger will be rested, as we’ll assume he is still an All Black at this stage, and Cameron McIntyre has buggered off overseas (because he is an idiot, or his manager is, more on this in a minute).
Tipoki is now figuring out what to do with his family who have just settled into Auckland after he moved up from the Bay of Plenty (worst move of his life, in my one-eyed opinion). You see in these days of “professional” rugby if you play Super 14 for the Crusaders you CANNOT (for some reason) play your provincial rugby for North Harbour. Seriously, how does that work?
Apparently playing for the Crusaders means he HAS to play for Canterbury’s ANZC team. I assume this rule is so that Super 14 teams can only have players from their catchment (other than draft players) signed. So Canterbury would have to “loan” Tipoki to Harbour for the season.
On a side note, I hate the loaning system. You bought the player you keep him. If that means you bench a bunch of decent talent because you overspent, too bloody bad. Trade them or sell them but don’t just loan them out to see if their good enough to play for you next year. Note: as far as I am aware there is no such thing as trading players in New Zealand rugby.
Now this is an incredibly smart move from Tipoki (though he may not be aware of it, not being known for his smarts). As I said before, Super 14 teams with All Blacks (and no depth) will be frantically searching for even moderately talented players. Tipoki is one of these: a talented midfielder who got as close as the NZ Maori but couldn’t compete with the VERY talented midfielders we’ve currently got in the All Blacks. However, with the All Blacks out of the picture, Tipoki set himself up with a sweet contract in easily the best team to ever compete in the Super 12/14 (I’ll leave that debate for another time).
And this is why Cameron McIntyre is a Grade A moron.
McIntyre, with all the foresight of Mr Magoo, has signed to play with French club Castres in a year when the Crusaders would pay through the nose for him to showcase his talents. Even a one year contract should’ve been incentive enough. France will always be there with its rich clubs. Even if he had a Super 14 of Tasesa Lavea-proportions he could still get money from France or even Japan.
But most importantly he would be playing in New Zealand, the LAND of rugby (if you ignore Wales, and you should). People come FROM Europe to play in New Zealand. Cameron either you’re an idiot or you need to fire your manager.
So who does Auckland have that would be better Rua Tipoki? Well: Sam Tuitupou, Luke McAlister, Isaia Toeava, Ben Atiga and Anthony Tuitavake. And I imagine one or even a couple of those guys will go into the draft
In other transfer news: Bay of Plenty's James Afoa and and Bernie Upton have transferred to North Harbour and Wellington respectively. Sigh. And so it goes on. Maybe if we worked on the NFL model and all the teams were given equal amounts of money to pay players (and kept the Super 14 as a separate anomaly) we might be able to have a fair, balanced comp…aahhh, never mind.
Of course some people are happy:
Rugby's new format a win for everyone
By MATTHEW COOPER
Who is Matthew Cooper? Former All Black Matthew Cooper is the CEO of Sport Waikato. You’ll never guess who is in the finals.
He writes (and I have cut some paragraphs where he waffles):
We've almost made it to the end of the inaugural Air New Zealand Cup, but not
without our fair share of comment and criticism, questioning the effectiveness of the new format, the perceived lack of crowd numbers at games, and the lower level of skill now in the first division.
It's an easy option to criticise, and commentators do have a right to go down this track and provide opinion. But surely criticisms should also be balanced with some form of factual information?
It's been fascinating hearing commentators and fans alike focusing more on the negative elements of what's wrong with the Air New Zealand Cup, rather than on any positive aspects that have come from the change.
Rugby does have issues with the marketing of the game.
Well I agree with that last bit. He continues...
The Tri-Nations rugby league clash [Saturday] night at Mt Smart Stadium between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos is a classic example of how things have changed. They've changed because consumers need a break from the smorgasbord of live action 52 weeks of the year.
Manawatu, one of the promoted unions in the Air New Zealand Cup who've been out of the top flight since 1988, were written off from the beginning and used unfairly as a "scapegoat" for this so called ineffective competition.
It is a team that have attracted an average of more than 9000 people a game, well above their pre-season forecast. A team where young, inexperienced players have mixed it with "big boys" and who potentially will become experienced players sooner rather than later. A team that have played well and where a couple of individuals may make a Super14 team in 2007. And most excitingly, a region where for the first time in 18 years, aspiring young Manawatu fans have had the chance to see their All Black heroes play against their team on their home ground.
I would imagine commentators and fans in Manawatu would have a much more optimistic outlook on the new competition. The glass is definitely half-full there.
His imagination would be part of the "factual information" he spoke about before.
The provincial competition has changed and change takes time. Yes, there have been some significant beatings, but those teams new to the first division have lifted their standards and will definitely make a considerable contribution to the country's future player depth. They need to recruit well over summer and learn from this year.
Maybe he’s right I mean the NZRU announced that Canterbury loose forward George Naoupu is going to Hawke’s Bay. That’s right, George Naoupo! Wow, Hawke’s Bay must be over the moon. No offence George.
With the exposure of these teams to better rugby players, the standard and health of NZ rugby will continue to be the envy of the rugby world.
So back to our own men in the famous red, yellow and black jersey. … If they win…in next week's grand final, this Waikato side will emulate the class of 1992 where they too won an inaugural national competition. Who said this competition was boring?
People from every province except Wellington and Waikato.
The best thing for me is that this is the first time in rugby history both finalists in the “first division” begin with a W! AND to make it even bigger the finalists in the “second division” are Wanganui and Wairarapa Bush!
Finally, the new Eden Park stadium looks nice. It’s still in the stupidest place for a major sporting venue though.