Otago rugby in crisis: Readers have their say

ODT readers give their views on the financial crisis engulfing Otago rugby.  


Just gutted. I blame myself (and the rest of Dunedin) for not going to games, blame the ORFU for poor decisions and players for not performing.

Sam Brown

Where do we send money to?

Robyn Hyndman, Dunedin

I find it interesting that Steve Tew and therefore the NZ Rugby Union can adopt an attitude of "enough is enough", and is prepared to wipe his hands of the situation when the complexity and how serious the situation is, has only just become apparent to local residents. What level of reporting have the NZRU been receiving from the Otago board in recent years?

One would think the NZ Rugby Union would have a sense of loyalty to the union. It is just as well Jeff Wilson and Josh Kronfeld felt a greater sense of loyalty to the NZRU in 1995 than Steve Tew is prepared to show Otago, or the boot could have been on the other foot!.

Greg and Rochelle Macmillan

Well it's pretty damn grim. I knew things were bad but didn't think this would happen. Personally I m hoping local businesses can stitch together a deal to keep Otago in the ITM cup. It seems crazy that there'd be no team playing in the best stadium in the country come July. Always look forward to the competition like most southern rugby fans and it'd be a terrible look if no Otago team takes part.

Long term the competition will have to reduce player costs and maybe even go semi professional. Otago and other provinces might lose a few players but if things aren't sustainable there s no option. Other provinces are making losses (Canterbury lost $500K last year) so more teams will follow Otago into liquidation unless something is done to fix situation.

Kelvin Jolly

Christchurch (ex South Otago and Dunedin) 

How anyone could let this situation of losses run on over the years is beyond me. If these guys were running their own businesses like these they would have been liquidated by the bank by lunch time. I trust the new stadium owners have plans in place to make up the loss of revenue if Otago does not enter the ITM competition.

Holmes Byars

I am a long-time fan of Otago rugby and a season ticket-holder. Whilst I am disappointed with what has happened, I am not surprised.

I have only recently become a season ticket-holder again after a two-year break. I took the break because the team kept playing abysmally (I do not mind them losing if they play well, but often they were not even playing well and they kept losing close games that they should have won). It was not a good experience sitting in the cold and dark at Carisbrook watching a team playing ineptly, so I decided to forgo a season ticket for the last two years. This year I decided to purchase a season ticket again because of the new stadium (which is much more comfortable and accessible than Carisbrook was) and because the teams (Highlanders and Otago) showed great promise last year.

I suspect many people are like me. They wanted to support Otago Rugby, but the team's continuous poor performances, saddled with the inclement conditions of mainly night-time rugby at Carisbrook, caused them to question spending money on tickets (particularly for families with young children). I also suspect that this season would have seen a turnaround in match attendance with the improvement in performances last year and the clemency of the new stadium (along with its proximity to the student market). In advertising speak, the product was becoming more marketable and attractive to consumers.

Perhaps I am a 'fair weather' supporter. Some might argue that I should have continued to support the team, despite the negatives. However, money is limited and like all consumers, I must choose carefully where to spend it. It would be wonderful if Otago rugby can survive-and perhaps these events are the shot in the arm required to re-invigorate it. Nevertheless, to survive long-term, the product must be attractive to sponsors and consumers. It has not been attractive these past few years. In the end, money talks louder than tradition and emotional ties for most of us.

Wayne Winder

It is indeed a sad day for Otago.

I think Steve Tew took some delight in the announcement to be honest. He himself is lucky to be in his current position after the fallout from the McCaw/Rutherford World Cup fiasco, and he is of course from Canterbury.

Next on the list will no doubt be the removal of the Highlanders franchise from the region. They tried this earlier with the production of the "green" jerseys. This was to show that the team was not linked to any provincial union through the colour of the jersey.

It's easier to kick someone when they're down, so should be easier second time around. The NZRFU agenda becomes clearer as the days go by.

John Knox

I was in shock but not surprised last night when I heard of Otago's imminent demise.

I have been an Otago supporter for over 40 years and although I now live in Auckland I make a point of going to away matches and getting home twice a year to catch a game. I have noticed the gradual decline in support over the years commensurate with the decline in the quality and performance of the team. The real killer has been the professional era were the rugby union sold the broadcasting rights of the game to Sky.

Sky offer such a great viewing experience whereas the stadia have been slow to follow suit. When you have Sky, why would you pay twice to see the game - especially when the performances lack skill and passion and there doesn't seem to be a commitment to fix the problem. It is sad to say that a professional rugby team is simply not viable in a province that has experienced a slow decline economically and strategically .

Any donations, while well intentioned, will only go to pay the existing creditors and we have all had enough of that lately with the failed finance companies. Forget about the past , go back to grass roots rugby , other provinces will follow eventually.

Tim Williams  

Before the DCC was committed to funding the stadium researchers from the University of Otago, Department of Marketing, ran a quite large survey of ratepayers that found that over 70% were against DCC funding of the stadium. Mr Farry described this as rubbish at the time. Might be worth one of the reporters contacting either Dr John Williams or Dr Ben Wooliscroft at the university and ask to have a look at their findings.

My reason for mentioning this is that I see the RFU suggesting that the community get behind rugby and raise $1,000,000 by Friday. Reversing the research findings might suggest that about 20%-30% of ratepayers might be prepared to fund this out of their own pockets? It would be about $33 per person. The University research suggests that the majority of ratepayers would definitely not want to make any more donations through their rates.

David Bishop 


I'm more concerned about my sons rugby in the U14 grade.


I'm a season ticket holder and went to all of Otago games last year. The one I remember most vividly was against North Harbour at 7:30pm at night.

It was the coldest I have ever been watching a game of rugby and the administrator/organisers wonder why no one goes to the games! It wasn't a pleasant occasion.

Bruce Manning

If enough season tickets were sold would that help secure an Otago team in the ITM cup? How many would be enough?

Pete George




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