Mike's Minute: Patriotism can't get in the way of rugby's Silver Lake deal

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 May 2021, 10:06AM

Mike's Minute: Patriotism can't get in the way of rugby's Silver Lake deal

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 May 2021, 10:06AM

I think I have got to the nub of the Silver Lake issue. David Kirk gave himself away yesterday.

That’s not said in a negative way, but I got an insight into what is driving, at least his view, of where rugby goes in this country.

It's about patriotism.

He didn’t seem to have any issues with the cultural side of the game, the issues around the haka and so on, that have been raised as potential stumbling blocks. He said everyone is attuned to where we are at. And he seemed confident that no matter how this plays out, that side of the equation would be fine.

But he made a comment as an individual, which of course he can't really make, given he is an ex All Black and at the very firm who dreamed up the IPO idea. But his issue is, he's miffed we haven't done this ourselves. Why are we relying on foreign venture capital to do what we should be doing ourselves?

He thinks we have the DNA to solve our own problems, and it's awfully tempting to get on board with that because who wants to admit he is wrong. Of course we can, we can do anything, we are the little country who could, and we are the number eight wire geniuses.

As uplifting, aspirational, and patriotic as that may be, my first question to him is, if we can, why haven't we? Why is it that we have a national sport that doesn’t make money? Why have we watched for years our national sport that we are so good at, scrape by? Why does it take a Silver Lake to see what we should have?

Could it be we were complacent? And could it also be that we don't actually have the skills and the reach to do what a Silver Lake can?

The other part is the stake versus hire. Kirk wants to hire help. But anyone who has ever owned anything knows full well, working for the man isn't the same as being the man.  When the skin is in the game, a lot more gets done and the desire for success is stronger.

Do they take a risk that Silver Lake gets bored and bails? Yes. But in the same way anyone who ever invested in anything took that risk.

Overall the impression I got from Kirk is he's nervous, and it's nerves based on love. He loves the game, it's served him well.

And he seems fearful that foreigners with only money and a bottom line can't love it the way he does. And if they don’t, they might treat it badly. I get that.

But short of a deeply compelling alternative which he doesn’t have, rugby needs help. And it's bottom line that needs help, not a lot of well-intentioned people who adore the game but until now have watched it from the sidelines haemorrhage.