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Rugby Thoughts – Premiership games in the great U.S. of A.

My random thoughts on rugby over the past week touching on Aviva Premiership games in USA, Japan’s new Super Rugby Franchise and doping.

Aviva Premiership Planning a game in America

Steve James in the Telegraph broke this story in passing when he was writing about the All Blacks game against the USA. Since then I have read elsewhere that there are discussions about a 7s tournament in the USA, which I think makes much more sense to the Aviva Premiership clubs. I understand the allure of cash and that the Premiership clubs need more of it to compete with the French clubs. It’s just that I think before taking league games overseas and upsetting the core fans, they should look at maximising their home market.

At the moment very few clubs are playing to full stadiums and those stadiums are also not really that big. There is plenty of opportunity to increase revenue at home if the clubs can get the public interested. I have written before my ideas on getting more people through the turnstiles and I’m sure that there are other ways. I’m not convinced that the clubs are doing as much as they can in this area and feel that they should concentrate on that first and not gallivanting over the pond for league games.

I do feel that there are opportunities to do a better job with the LV= Cup weekends and I wouldn’t be opposed to these being used for overseas experiments.

Super Rugby chooses Japan

There has been quite a bit of coverage about there being a new Super Rugby franchise opening up in Japan for the 2016 season. That’s not true yet, Japan are just the preferred  bidders over Singapore for now, but it probably will come to fruition.

My concerns are how it’s going to be setup. Japan already has a professional league and attracts players from the southern hemisphere countries primarily. I would like the Super Rugby franchise to work with this league rather than competing against it for players and fans. This could either be done by the team winning that competition playing in Super Rugby the following season or an All Stars team from that league. Unfortunately I can see money getting in the way, i.e. TV contracts and sponsorship will probably clash with neither side wanting to give up some control over these aspects. I hope I’m just being pessimistic and wrong. Only time will tell, as so much of this deal has not been talked about in the press.

Doping in rugby

Something that gets next to no coverage, as I have mentioned before, but is clearly an “easy” way to improve is doping. Hats off to the Gloucester Citizen for covering this subject and even though it is a rugby league player that has been caught, pointing out that this is a union problem as well. The apparent “easy” access to steroids in Gloucestershire and South Wales is worrying, as people put their futures at risk. Whilst these two areas are mentioned in the article I’d be surprised if it was largely different in other areas of the UK.

Whilst the suggestion is that this is mainly an amateur and under 23s issue, clearly with the half million pound drug bust mentioned in the article, there is serious money out there. I urge you to read the article. For example it never occurred to me that needles given out by clinics to stop the spread of disease, would be used for this kind of thing. I always assumed it was purely for cocaine etc….

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