22 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. I have seen it is claimed the Rugby world cup is the biggest sporting event in 2003.

    Does anyone know how this is justified?

    I would be surprised if it was bigger than the world athletic championships or the English Premier League.

  2. It can only be either Rugby or Soccer, as the other two are (1) more firmly identified with bits of Australia and (2) aren’t played internationally (be serious now). And of the two contenders, Rugby is clearly the more popular. So the only answer is the game they play in …

  3. The AFR (page L16, 10 October 2003) gives the registered player figures as:

    soccer 1 218 000
    cricket 1 057 000
    AFL 438 000
    rugby league 311 000

    No idea why they left out rugby union. Assuming it’s figures are lower than 1 057 000, it follows that cricket is a more popular football code than either rugby game. (I know how silly this sounds).

    The ABA gives radically different numbers:

    cricket 312 000
    hockey 270 000
    rugby league 141 000
    rugby union 110 000

    If sport is what we watch on TV, that’s one story. What we actually play is another.

  4. Jim Cairns: his contribution to Australian politics. Any worthwhile legacy? Why do successful political activists make such unsuccessful ministers?

  5. Cricket is our only truly national game Alan, which is why the PM is only the second most important office in Australia … Now, back to football, I’d be very surprised if there are more league players than Union … got some criteria here?

  6. Australian Rules. From Darwin to Hobart, Perth to Sydney it is the only real national game.

    I think soccer could have been number one, but the history of ethnic warlords collectively fouling their own nest decade after decade does not inspire hope.

  7. I’d be very surprised if there are more league players than Union …

    I have no idea where the AFR guy got his figures and I accept that David Flint’s ABA is not necessarily a source of Gospel truth. League players might have higher survival rates…

    Understand (unlike the rest of you) I’m completely unbiassed here. I had a really bad femural break as a kid and that put me out of contention for playing any football code.

  8. “Gridiron”

    From watching the rugby over the weekend, I found the skintight jerseys a very disturbing trend. Players even need to help one another get them on (as seen in the England game). How long will it be until we see the silver spandex shorts, like American footballers wear?

    The fact that the shirts can’t be easily grabbed will mean that tackling will have to evolve to become more like the full-frontal blocking tackles of gridiron, with the consequent stop-starts taking away much of the free-flowing appeal of rugby.

    What’s next, helmets?

    After that little whinge, I’ll come back to the main topic. It’s a tough question. Being Melbourne bred but now Sydney based, I think I’ve got a bit of perspective on the main codes. All the talk of the rugby codes about establishing themselves in Melbourne is pie-in-the-sky stuff. They have no idea how much Aussie Rules is a part of the psyche there – much much more than either code in Sydney. And as for whether union vs league will prevail in the northern states, I think it’s reminiscent of Catholics vs Protestants in Northern Ireland. League supporters that I know simply cannot see the point of slow, technical union. And union supporters cannot see the appeal of a game with no finesse. Try to have a rational conversation with either supporter type about the other code, and it’s not long before you’re wondering when the molotov cocktails will start flying.

    Honestly, I think the game all the codes have to fear is soccer. It is a truly international code, and has the big advantage that it can be played by anyone anywhere.

  9. I hope soccer will be played at the highest level in Australia in my lifetime. The various eggball games might as well be preserved for the sake of diversity, but first-class soccer is more entertaining to watch. And as Mark says, it’s a game anyone can play anywhere.

  10. Right now, Aussie rules without a doubt…

    But how long before the union/league schism is healed? they’ll have a better shot at national and international markets together (union has the ‘world’, league more crowd-friendly ‘rules’)…

    None could resist the round ball game, but we don’t have the population or pocket money to support a premier league (just yet)… maybe an asian champions league to add flavour?

    But I don’t think soccer australia has a foot left to shoot…

    PS Mark: my girlie thinks the new tops are quite the ticket…

  11. League Vs Union

    Union has always been a private schoolboys’ game, at least in Qld. A quick check of the locals who are excited about the World Cup indicates that they fall into one or more of the following categories: They went to a private school, they are romantically involved with someone who went to a private school, they are sending/will send their kids to a private school, or they are immigrants from Wales.

    League fans will watch Union, and enjoy it after a fashion, but given the choice between a telecast of an arbitary World cup game (sans Au) and, say, QRL teams Redcliff V Logan in a post-season exhibition match, State schoolies will pick league almost every time.



  12. Sundry thoughts.

    Long, long ago we used to say that:

    Soccer is a gentlemen’s game played by thugs,
    Union is a thugs game played by gentlemen,
    League is a thugs game played by thugs.

    Union is quite strong in the country around Central Queensland for some reason.

    Growing up in Queensland we barely knew about Aussie Rules. Now with the Broncos and the Qld Reds not going so well, like many I’ve become interested in the Lions and AFL.

    In AFL there is scoring all the time, which is the main reason I don’t like soccer. Seriously, I think the result in AFL more closely reflects the skill levels throughout the game and depends less on luck.

    On popular games, I think you may find that the game with the most registered players in Oz is netball (and the most attractive costumes), and men are playing it also these days.

    I’d better go!

  13. Soccer Australia is no more, dead, kaput, it’s just been replaced by the Australian Soccer Association. Maybe now they’ll start getting somewhere. The problem with soccer as a spectacle is that yes, it’s great at the World Cup and internationals, and the top European clubs, but once you get down to the standard of, say, the Australian domestic league, thew. Not the beautiful game at all…

    Whereas the other codes don’t require as much finesse; although as far as catering for a variety of body shapes and styles goes, Aussie Rules is king.

    My father played both RL and Aussie Rules, and when I was a kid he took me to watch both codes in local leagues. He didn’t mind watching the rah-rahs on TV, either; I’ve taken on that couch potato catholicism including soccer. Though Hawthorn in the AFL will always be #1 with me.

    Generally in Albury, Aussie Rules was dominant as far as spectator interest goes, locally, League is rapidly fading away in second place. The divide between rugby league and Aussie Rules has tended to follow the Murrumbidgee River, particularly Wagga Wagga.

    Participation wise, it’s probably Aussie Rules and netball by a nose from soccer.

  14. As regards the claim that the Rugby World Cup is the sporting event of the year, the British Press today has front page stories about the draw for the Euro Cup soccer in 2004, relegating the RWC to back pages. The NYT doesn’t cover it at all, although it does run a story on underwater hockey, which is apparently very popular “particularly in Australia”, but obscure in the US. Any underwater hockey fans among the readers?

  15. ” as far as catering for a variety body shapes and styles goes, Aussie Rules is king”

    Graham, methinks you are wrong. In Rugby Union you have the slippery little guys like George Gregan, Mat Rogers etc. Then you have the 2 metre locks, that look like telegraph poles. Then you have the 120kg, no neck front row guys, built like a tank, who lumber from one scrum to the next, plus some very quick 115kg plus guys who move like a bullet train.

  16. The  Rugby World Cup is expected to be a financial windfall to the ARU.  The claim that the Rugby World Cup is the biggest sporting event this year is constantly made, and the supporting
    appears to be based on the estimated number of television viewers estimated worldwide.
    Rugby’s claim to being the nationalfootball code is based on the number- possibilly seven sides at a guess – of credible international opponents. Leaque has at best credible two nternational  opponents, and thatin a good year. Aussie Rules international games are pure fiction.

    However, lets look at other


    “More telling is the money, which follows the crowds. While rugby across Australia hauls in about 450,000 spectators, AFL pulls 2.5 million, league 1.5 million and
    soccer, 620,000. Rugby’s World Cup profits compares with revenue of almost $A160 million for AFL, and $A80 million for League.”
    Rugby’s figures are obviously inflated by the World Cup, OTOH the opportunity to promote the game is now. (My apologies – WIP)

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