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Mike's Minute: My thoughts on the Rugby World Cup final

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 30 Oct 2023, 9:22am

Mike's Minute: My thoughts on the Rugby World Cup final

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 30 Oct 2023, 9:22am

A lot of talk about the match. But what about the game of rugby?

As I was watching Bill Beaumont hand out the prizes I wondered whether he has the slightest clue that he is killing the game's chances at the domination or growth they so desperately want.

For the sport's show piece, yesterday morning was a bust. If you expect the casual observer to tune in, as so many do for the pinnacle of sport, whether it’s the Olympics or World Cups or finals of anything at the elite level, you have to give them a reason to come back, and yesterday wasn’t it.

For the departing players, what a miserable way to end a career. Rugby is like any other event that wants fans, or sales, or eye balls. It is entertainment. It competes against video games, Taylor Swift concerts, as well as all other athletic pursuits.

It's chasing the attention of those of us who wish to be mesmerised, or thrilled, or amazed.

You need to put on a show.

Everything that is wrong with rugby featured in those 80 dull, slow, meandering and boring minutes.

Rules no one understands, penalties for things that don't make sense, interminable gaps between actual play as bandages are applied, tired players are allowed to milk the clock, a scrum gets lined up by a series of instructions so long you can boil the kettle, or the TMO runs through a couple of hundred angles to try and find something criminal.

It is sport by committee and old men who have missed the memo. It would be simpler to call it flag football, or touch, and just do away with most of the rules.

Looking at people the wrong way seems to be a card. There's so much interpretation and if you're not interpreting, you're fearful. So many rules around trying to stop things like concussions and head injuries and law suits, all laudable I am sure when they waxed lyrical about them around a boardroom table.

But in application, all they have done is wreck the game. To grow a sport you have to justify the price of admission.

Look at the NBA - 60% growth this year in viewership and ticket sales from 92 countries. Why? Because it's spectacular.

The biggest growth market is India. Is India a basket country? No.

But make it cool enough and you don’t have to be.

Rugby isn't cool. It can still be played well, but too often it isn't.

Yes the All Blacks lost, but not as badly as rugby did.

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