Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ideas to Stimulate New Zealand Rugby

Since the professional era began, the New Zealand Rugby Union has been on top of the game. The All Blacks are an inexorable force that dominates world rugby. But the union is facing real financial pressures as a result of the globalization of the game and the subsequent exposure to foreign exchange and international broadcast rights. The NZRU needs to create some new revenue streams if it’s to be a sustainable force in future. I provide the full back story in my latest NZ Rugby World column. I rustled up 15 ideas with a few multinational mates – Aussies, Kiwis, Americans and Brits – to help turn the accounts the same winning color as the jerseys: Black. Here’s the forward pack of eight.

  1. Re-frame rugby at every level as a real family, social option (one of the original Super 12 objectives). Look at what Stade Francais are doing in Paris. Flowery team jerseys, massive social networking. We need to move Super 15 games closer to 20/20 Cricket, NBA matches and pop concerts. The Wellington Sevens is a brilliant example of a festival spirit. Lots of fun around the game, not just because of it. Entice. Reward. Repeat.
  2. Develop a super-amped global All Blacks community. With real intimate, exclusive contact. Behind the scenes stuff. Dressing room/training ground banter. Player proper truthful post-match analysis. Training tips. Personal stuff from players/coaches. Lots of social networking around games/tours. A global, premium social network of rugby people interacting around the AB’s. 250,000 members x $74 = $18.75 million! A great gift for your son/dad/mate.
  3. Build the global brand, especially in emerging markets. The All Blacks are the #1 brand in world rugby and one of the top sports brands in the world. We need to deepen and broaden our fan base geographically in a similar way to what ManU has done in China, Chelsea in Africa, the Lakers and the Yankees globally, opening the door for sales of merchandise, videos and training materials.
  4. Develop an All Blacks training, fitness and leadership programme. On-line. Off-line. For individuals and corporates. Relevant to sports teams in all sports, university teams especially China and businesses everywhere. Combine leadership, great stories, amazing video, hands-on coaching, skills, decision-making etc etc. Aim to be the number one programme globally.
  5. Host an NZRU school sports tournament every year. Different age groups. All Black participation in training and leadership (old players). Sub contract to sports tour specialists.
  6. Play more Sevens at School/Club level. This will increase participation levels, attract new audience demographics, generate new sponsorship opportunities, increase player athleticism, win over mums as violence/ injuries reduce … and increase our Olympic Gold medal count!
  7. Bring on the Women. Include female Board members at every level of the game. Get their voices heard. We need to get all New Zealand women believing once again that rugby is the game for all New Zealanders. We must listen to them and address their concerns. And we must revitalize funding for our World Champion Black Ferns. More Olympic golds. More world championships. And more sponsorship opportunities.
  8. Ensure every seat is sold for every test match. Make it unforgiveable for a stadium manager to have an unsold seat at an All Blacks test match. The GFC is blamed for a drop-off in ticket sales, but it’s equally arguable that poor selling techniques have been used. Test match revenue is core. NZRU must have a ‘no seat left behind’ attitude.
Seven more ideas next week.