If you needed proof that rugby is in trouble, look at what’s happening to Sky TV’s shares.
They fell to a record low yesterday, and they just kept on falling today to a brand new all-time low.
Well, looks it’s because of a rumour in the Daily Mail at the weekend. And not even a new rumour at that, a rumour we’ve heard how many times before.
But that’s all it took. Just a rumour that South Africa might break from SANZAAR and head over to the North Hemisphere competition was enough to cause a mild panic amongst Sky TV investors.
This tells you two things, One, obviously Sky TV is way too reliant on rugby for its future - but that’s a story for tomorrow when Sky TV releases its half year results. And two, we’ve lost our faith in rugby administrators.
Is the South African departure to the Northern competition going to happen? Who knows. If it does happen, it looks like it’ll only happen in 2025.
And it will need to get agreement from the northerners themselves who might not want to expand their already busy competition to include a seventh country.
And it will need to get past the players who might not feel they can handle that many games in a season.
So, it’s no certainty, is it? But the problem is if it does, rugby in this country will be in bigger trouble than it already is, because our rugby administrators have let it get into big trouble.
Yeah, the new guy Mark Robinson has promised to look at things afresh, so he’s ordered a review. But do we really need a review? Surely we can all point to exactly what’s going wrong here.
And yet, here we are, starting the Super Rugby season in January this year. Even though rugby bosses know full well that one of the very reasons they’re losing us as an audience is because there is too much rugby for too long.
And here we are with coaches just this week complaining about rest rules that keep All Blacks out of some of their squads’ Super Rugby games, which, again, makes you wonder why fans would bother up to watch when they’re getting a team devoid of their stars.
Rugby bosses know these problems, but they seem to be taking a cross-their-fingers approach, hoping this gets better.
Well, it looks to the rest of us like this could get a whole lot worse for us fans – as well as the Sky TV investors.