World league not silver bullet game needs at all levels

Steve runs a painting business.

It's been the top business in the land for more than a century.

All the top painters come to his firm and do the job extremely well. They use the top brushes and everyone admires their work.

Steve's top manager - another Steve - is a bit of a grizzler but he gets the results and has his finger on the pulse.

The firm is at the top of the tree and gets the important jobs done more than 80% of the time.

Sometimes some of his top painters want to move on but they can go - there is always someone else just as good with a brush to fill a spot.

All seems bliss and the money keeps coming in for his top brushmen, which funds all of Steve's other pursuits. Keeps the households down below well in order.

Those that really matter - the kids and wife - moan and whinge occasionally but not many are interested in them. They will plod along and keep working hard.

But clouds are on the horizon - dark, dangerous clouds which could change the painting business forever and turn Steve's business on its head.

Too many of his top painters want to head off and seek a new job overseas.

Never mind, Steve thinks they can be replaced.

But maybe not. Not too many youngsters want to be painters any more. Half the schools don't do painting seriously and those that do are too intense and out of control.

Many just want to get a job that involves half an hour during the week and no commitment. They reckon it is a job but it's not really.

So what does Steve do?

He thinks he needs more money to keep his top painters at his firm. So he comes up with a plan - paint more of the top jobs, even if they are in Timbuktu or the Seychelles.

The new scheme will make lots of money, pay his best painters more and keep them at the firm

Steve, though, doesn't realise his best employees do not want that. They can make money elsewhere and - like us all - their only loyalty is to the dollar.

They have worked for Steve and Steve for long enough and want to go and paint somewhere else - where the money is just as good if not better and hours not so long. Why work nine months a year at the coalface when you can tread the boards for half of that and get twice as much?

It is tough for Steve but he is between a rock and a hard place.

So is there a solution for Steve? How can he keep all his top painters (players) at home and happy and also fund all the other parts of his empire?

The reality is that Steve (as in Hansen), and Steve (as in Tew) just cannot solve this one.

Has rugby in New Zealand ever faced more challenges than it currently does?

Players leaving en masse, overseas clubs waving massive deals, kids dropping out of the sport in their hundreds, waning spectator interest, flawed competitions.

A world league may make money but it is not the silver bullet the game needs at all levels.

To go back to utopia in rugby, that never really existed at all, will take compromise on all sides.

But sadly for the sake of the sport, in this day and age, no-one wants to give up anything - especially money.

Sports are always putting out bushfires as dramas come and go.

Unfortunately, for rugby, this bushfire may rage out of control for many months.


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