We need to consider the impact of the All Blacks’ dominance on the popularity of the sport.

The recent victory over South Africa highlights the obvious superior skill set of the All Blacks and the lack of excitement for the neutral fan.

As a rugby fan, I am lucky to live in America where it is amazing how much rugby I get to watch. The game is striving to break into the U.S. market and doing a fairly good job. It is one of the fastest growing team sports in the country.

ESPN shows all the Super Rugby and Rugby Championship matches; while NBC Sports shows Premiership rugby from Europe. I also get to watch some of the French club rugby as well. A gluttony of rugby, some might say.

Personally, I enjoy watching northern hemisphere rugby because the games are closer and I find that more exciting. It is not exciting when one team is clearly better than the other and the game is decided by halftime. This weekend I stopped watching the All Blacks on ESPN after 20 minutes and switched over to a Premiership game on NBC.

Rugby has become a professional sport and TV viewership is the main source of funds. The neutral TV fan will not be interested in watching games with a score line of 57-0.

Is the All Blacks dominance bad for the sport? Is the gap as large as last weekend’s scoreline suggested? The Lions certainly got close to beating them. As some have suggested on The 1014 YouTube channel, is it just a matter of sitting back and enjoying it whilst it lasts. Much like Ali, Federer, Bradman, and Woods. What do you think?

From The Shed

The 1014 discuss this very question on their YouTube channel, you can see it at 2:48 in the following video.

Photos: www.photosport.nz

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Author: John Francis

6 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t think it’s bad for the game, its up to the other nations to catch up. The only caveat I would have is that other nations need to stick to what they do best and not try and copy the blacks, such as England & the boks have generally had massive packs and kicking 10’s. When these teams have won world cups they have done so playing to their strengths (also Australia had a great pack in 1991). It will be interesting from a welsh point of view this season whether Gatland tries to change the way Wales play as in recent years we have played to our current strengths of big backs playing at a high tempo, although this has only been successful against northern hemisphere sides and has not worked for the last few years. It will be interesting in the autumn internationals whether he will try and play a more counter attacking game which is working so well for the Scarlets at the moment (they are almost trying to play like a NZ super rugby side). A clue may well be where Liam Williams plays and also if Steff Evans is given a chance the wing. I’d be interested in everyones thoughts

    • Rob I think we would all love to see the other nations play at the same speed and skill as the All Blacks. The question is do their players have the skill set to do so. Also do the clubs they play for want to play that way. The French supporters appeared to love watching enormous players crashing into one another in the Top 14.
      Saracens the European champions play a clinical game based around a superb defense and excellent tactical kicking. They believing in applying pressure and taking opportunities when they arise. It will probably be a while before the other nations can catch up.
      The Scarlets have been wonderful, winning the Pro 12 with an amazing attacking game with 15 ball handlers. They had been doing this for years, but have managed to build a pack that can secure sufficient possession. Yet winter is approaching in West Wales and they have with have so make a few adjustments.
      Liam Williams now plays on the wing for Saracens, he got a try on his home debut for them.

  2. Reading an article in the guardian (UK) edition, the subject of children being removed from tackling was the main subject matter, however, they touched upon the AB. I would agree with the first comment that teams need to play to their strengths (as highlighted England and the Book), what seems to differ the AB from other tier one nations is there focus on skills from an early age rather then set pieces and physicality. Sadly in a world where success is wanted yesterday the emphasis on skills at an early age is lost and putting systems in place for grassroot rugby to follow a different development path probably isn’t at the forefront of unions / clubs minds.

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