Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read at the 2019 Rugby World Cup (Photo: Hannah Peters / Getty Images)
Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read at the 2019 Rugby World Cup (Photo: Hannah Peters / Getty Images)

SportsMay 19, 2020

Rugby Unwrapped: Where is rugby’s LeBron James? (WATCH)

Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read at the 2019 Rugby World Cup (Photo: Hannah Peters / Getty Images)
Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read at the 2019 Rugby World Cup (Photo: Hannah Peters / Getty Images)

In the third part of a full and frank discussion about the state of rugby in New Zealand, Scotty Stevenson and a panel of insiders discuss how best to grow and promote the game.

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Find the other episodes in the series here.

If you ask anyone who loves rugby about what makes the game so special, you will inevitably hear the words “team sport”. In a lot of ways rugby is the ultimate team sport, and that’s one of the things we love most about it. But what if this mindset is also what’s holding the game back? From a marketing perspective, should rugby be doing more to encourage the brands of its individual superstars, the way other sports have done so successfully?

This is one of the big questions raised in the third episode of Rugby Unwrapped. So far in the series, host Scotty Stevenson has asked a panel of New Zealand rugby insiders where the sport is at and where it’s going. This time the question is: how do we get there? It’s put to a panel including Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini, All Blacks and Hurricanes player TJ Perenara, France-based former All Black Conrad Smith and player agent Simon Porter from Halo Sport. 

They talk about the pressures players face in the modern game, not just on the field but off it, especially on social media. They discuss the allure of the black jersey, asking if it still holds the same value in an increasingly professional era, and debate the thorny topic of player eligibility rules – why would you lock some of the world’s best players out of the game’s showpiece event? When it comes to how best to market the game, sometimes it pays to listen to those playing it.

This content has been made possible by the support of The Spinoff Members. If you can, please consider donating here. 

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