The Competition Makes the Game – What Super Rugby is Getting Wrong?

I would remark after my arrival in the UK that you could watch more premiership football (soccer) in South Africa than you could in the UK. It was everywhere.

I am not a football fan. It used to bug me when it was all that was on TV.

Not being a football fan in the UK is a slight hindrance. When you are meeting people it’s good common ground and a great conversation starter.

However, the longer I lived in the UK the more I started to follow the competitions. I found myself wanting to watch Match of the Day on BBC on a Saturday night. This for a sport a don’t like. I hardly ever watched an entire game. But I wanted to know …

That this happened should not be surprising. A Ph.D. student visiting from the UK at the University of Cape Town had told me why a couple of years earlier. He was living with a friend of mine, and a Champions League game came on TV.

As I vented my frustration, he explained it is not about the game. It is about what this game means in the context of the competition. The result matters more than the quality of the match. Even then, as he explained to me what the result of this match would mean, my resistance dissipated. Dare I say it, I almost wanted to watch the game.

Back in the UK, I found myself trying to read the football results on the back of other commuters newspapers on the tube. His observation would keep coming back to me. Here I was wanting to know what had happened in the Premiership over the weekend.

I was hooked by the competition. By the unfolding story that the competition generates. I still didn’t like the game itself. But I was starting to like the competition.

The intrigue of who would qualify for the Champions League; who was fighting relegation from the Premiership; who was performing well in Division One hoping to make it into the Premiership; how had the team promoted last year performed? Up and down the league table there was a story to follow. And the games were the twists and turns in the story.

The matches progressed the story. The result of each match was a kind of choose your own adventure. A surprise result here and there and the script would change.

The hype and interest were about more that the game of football.

So what does this have to do with Super Rugby?

SANZAAR could learn a thing or two from by PhD friend. I am a member of the

IMG_6799I am a member of the Queensland Reds and have tickets to all the home games. I enjoy going to the games. But not for the quality of the match. I go for the company of the friends, and a beer in the stand. Suncorp Stadium where the home games are is a very easy stadium to visit. It is a good evening out.

It dawned on me that at each game this year, and last year too, I have had no idea where the Reds are on the league table.

There are a couple of reasons for that. One they are not performing well enough for me to believe they have a chance of winning.

The main reason though; the Super Rugby competition format is flawed.

I’ll explain why I believe that.

In short, it does not generate enough intrigue and interest and the top and bottom of the ladder. It does not form part of the underlying local competitions either. There is no qualification aspect.

The competition, as it is now, is split into a couple of conferences. I want to say three, but I think the proper answer is four.

This highlights my point, I don’t even know. I have to go look it up, and I don’t feel like it. I don’t pay attention to the league table at all. It means so little. It doesn’t reflect the performance of each team.

Each team in a conference plays each other home and away. And then each conference has a couple of games against some of the teams in another conference. No one team will play ever other team.

It’s a hairball competition format. It is too difficult to understand what is going on.

They create a combined log. But often the team in 6th place has fewer points than the team in 7th, but it sits there as it is leading the conference it is in. This is nuts.

Then we have the fact that all teams do not play each other. That means some teams are lucky and play mostly weaker teams, and some teams are unlucky and play the stronger teams.

This lack of fairness erodes the underlying foundation of a fair league. Some characters in the story have a harder journey than others.

The current format is two or three years old. Yet even before that, when it was Super 15 and all teams played each other, the competition was flawed. The sheer travel involved in a competition spanning the eastern hemisphere made it unequal.

But at least then, each team played each other once in the competition. Over a two-year cycle, each team would play each other home and away. You could understand where your team sat in the competition.

This simpler format made it interesting if your team was in the running. But a couple of bad games and you fell away.

A the bottom of the ladder, there was nothing to play for. You start going through the motions as a team and as a supporter.

There is no qualifying competition in Super Rugby. I think this is a shame. A missed opportunity. Super Rugby should support the local competitions, and be part of the local competitions. Not a separate “super” entity. They should be working together, not against each other.

Let us contrast that with a competition like the Premier League in the UK.

Even if your team is performing badly, there is the intrigue of relegation that makes the result of each game important. Which in turn makes the game itself worth caring about.

When there is no consequence to losing, the pressure and focus become the quality of the rugby. Very few supporters are interested in the technical intricacies of the game itself. Even fewer of us understand the rules of rugby. I’ll include myself there.

My point is that the game is interesting because of the competition. Because the competition creates the story in which the game happens. And it is the story that many supporters come to follow. When we understand the competition.

You could argue about the structures within each country, and for the development and expansion of the game. And you would be right. They all need attention.

For this post, I have chosen to focus on the competition format itself, and compare it another competition format. Which one has the better viewing numbers and the money to invest in the game?

SANZAAR set the format of the competition. They recently adjusted it, to try to fix it. But I think they have not fixed the underlying flaw. The new competition structure has fewer teams, but the same conference structure which lessens the overall competition.

They think they have fixed it. But they haven’t.

I’ll just call it like it is. The competition is boring.

If I have any facts about the structure of the competition above wrong, I apologise. Yet, it makes my point. I love rugby, but am not motivated to figure it out.

They should fix that.


sharks-logoIn the interest of disclosure, I am first and foremost a Sharks supporter. I have been from the age of 12. However, living in Brisbane as part of in a family from Brisbane, I want the Reds to do well. I also want to support rugby in Australia. The Rugby Union world needs a strong Australian rugby team. I need a rugby competition to go watch.

Book Review: When Coffee & Kale Compete

When Coffee & Kale Compete: Become Great at Making Products People Will BuyWhen Coffee & Kale Compete: Become Great at Making Products People Will Buy by Alan Klement

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book a month ago. That I keep going back to the book as a reference, and that I have started to use the language of the book is a testament to value and lessons in the book. On that basis alone it is worth a read.

However, I can’t give the book five starts. At times it was difficult to read. The writing is clear, but there are sections where his desire to have a dig at someone and push a parallel agenda gets the better of him. Getting personal detracts from the text, and does not add any value to me as the reader.

In those moments I felt like I was reading a blog, and not a book. If I had paid for this book (I downloaded the free ebook) I would have stopped reading.

When he stayed on topic, and served me the reader wanting to learn about JTBD, the book was easy to read and has a lot to give. (There is some irony in the fact that those sections where he diverts his focus to push his own agenda, did not help me get the Job-Done. And that in that way he did not follow his own advice.)

View all my reviews

What Happens When You Produce Your Own Energy?

The model included below has been perculating in my mind for a while.

screenshot-2017-02-25-14-26-42Soon after arriving in Australia we were away in Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane. I caught a radio show talking about how a local council was using renewable energy to meet is its own energy needs.

Off the bat this sounds reasonable. Why would a council, business, or home not want to do that?

Then to my surprise the Federal Government complained. I can’t remember the specific objections. My impression was one of discouragement. They seemed intent on discouraging more of these types of developments.

When I got over myself, my systems mind kicked into gear. I started to think it through and wonder if they had a point.

So here is part 1, from the Federal Governments perspective.

Follow the presentation below to see how it plays out, and use the comments section to let me know share your thoughts.

screenshot-2017-02-26-11-22-45

 

Have you followed the presentation?

Ok. Great.

I bounded that model on energy production and supply from utility companies. There is more to the overall model. But this is the model we had.

That seems like as good a place as any to start.

I will expand, in part 2, to think about the impact of battery storage in homes (something the Australian government seem to want to make difficult), and what the mode would look like when everyone is an energy producers and can share their excess production.

What do I take away from this model?

Two points worth remembering or considering stand out.

Local Renewables vs Central Renewables

When I say the word ‘renewable’ what is the firs thought that comes to mind?

Is it of the solar panels on your house? Or, is it a wind farm out in the country somewhere?

Here in Australia where many houses have solar, and where many more want solar, the tendency is to imagine something local.

The same is true for some businesses. Google, Apple, and Facebook have data centers that are run on renewable energy.

That is only partly true. Utility companies are also investing in renewable energy. Indeed those links to Google etc above refer to deals those companies have done with providers. But they have also built, or plan to build, their own facilities.

Renewable energy produced by a utility company disrupts the current model less than locally produced renewable energy does.

We Still Need Infrastructure

As the technology improves it will become less and less necessary to draw power from the grid, most of the time. We will get to a point where energy can be stored cheaply and effectively.

However, not everyone will be producing their own energy, and energy demand fluctuates.

This means that we need a way to supply other homes and businesses with energy. We need infrastructure to do that.

When there is a peak in demand for energy, where will that come from? For example during a heat wave where the use of air-conditioning increases, who supplies that extra power?

We need ways to share energy production, and provide on-demand energy when required. 

Energy is central to our economy. It powers nearly everything. We can’t go far when it fails.

How does that work in a new model? Who pays, and who gets paid? Who is responsible for the infrastructure?

 

What do you think? How do you see this playing out?

So You Don’t Like Meetings, Then What?

I have spent my share of time in pointless meetings.

Does that mean that all meetings are bad?

No.

Does that mean that you should avoid all meetings?

No.

So you don’t like meetings? Fine. Go ahead. Avoid them.

But consider this before you do.

That stuff you were going to talk about? How are you going to share it instead?

What is your plan for facilitating the decision making process?

Do you have the tools, the skills, and the discipline to follow it through?

Continue reading So You Don’t Like Meetings, Then What?

The Cause and Effect of Antibiotics

As we rolled into 2017 I was reading The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and read at every opportunity while on holiday.

Then I had to go back to work.

51b7-bx7cglMy 20 minutes on the train each morning and evening is not enough to get through a book quickly, especially if you are enjoying it. Fortunately I had downloaded the companion audio book from Audible that syncs with your reading position on your Kindle. I could keep listening to the book while I walked into the office. That lead to listening on my walks at lunch time. Before I knew it I was listening to the book all the time, and not reading it.

It is funny how your preferences can change. I have not listened to an audio book for a while. Preferring reading and podcasts. But I enjoyed this one. Continue reading The Cause and Effect of Antibiotics

Why don't you see what I see?