DEVIL’S ADVOCATE 14th December 2013


 [In a sudden surge of taste and sophistication, the otherwise engrossingly superior webpsych of The Age newspaper omitted to include my Saturday column, Devil’s Advocate, this week. Some folks asked about it, so here it is.]


The announcement of some sort of sub-Super Rugby, second tier, domestic rugby competition, offered a couple of interesting contentions.

“This is a major vote of confidence in Australian rugby,” noted Bill Pulver, CEO of the Australian Rugby Union.

No doubt this statement makes a great deal more sense than it appears to on the surface.

It does seem a little like someone who’s the head of the rugby union, saying that rugby union has confidence in its great new idea for rugby union, which it happens to be running.

Anyway, Mr Pulver managed a slightly more questionable offering, suggesting:

“[The new competition] will also offer the opportunity to introduce innovative rules to the game to improve the spectacle.”

Oh, please. Really? This one again?

Lord knows how many iterations of the AFL pre-season comp we all lived through with the league and its more transparent brown-nosers tap dancing as fast as they could to try and get that production number over to stony-faced, disbelieving fans.

All of which proved so successful that, in the face of tumultuous apathy from all concerned, the pre-season event devolved to whatever the hell we’ve got ahead of next AFL season – i.e. something no longer overwhelmingly recognisable as a competition.

The fundamental flaw with this kind of logic is the notion that some folks might not be fans now, but if you paint the sidelines a different colour, cut the game into fifths,  change the rules to more closely resemble those of pinball, or whatever, people will be fooled and somehow wind up liking rugby by accident.

Come to think about it, that sounds like less of a vote of confidence.



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