Guardian April 1995
Bath chairman Richard Mawditt and Leicester's director of rugby Tony Russ. Last night Mawditt said: "We have to make sure we can compete with the rugby league people. Rugby union has got to react. The development of this new summer Super League has taken us all by surprise."
Rugby union's International Board has been considering the issue of amateurism for more than a year and is not due to rule on it until August, but for Australia and New Zealand, the two unions which stand to lose most from rugby league's plans, that is too late.
"All unions up to this stage have been very keen to make sure the game remains one which is not pay for play," said Greg Thomas, the Australian union's media and communications manager. "Whether that remains the position is something which will have to be discussed."
Reports from Australia said yesterday that the ARFU could spend pounds 2.5 million on player contracts to keep them away from Murdoch's grasp.
The New Zealand RFU chairman Rob Fisher believes the end of amateurism is nigh. "Murdoch's Super League hastens the move towards professionalism in union."
Terry Doyle, the Queensland RU's chief executive, said: "Let's be honest about it: union is verging on the professional now. We need to have a counter-strategy in place before the World Cup starts next month."
Australian urgency is driven by the formation of rugby league's Super League, to which rugby union administrators in the northern hemisphere have responded disdainfully. Yet as things stand, as many as a dozen Wallabies could sign for Super League after the conclusion of the rugby union World Cup in June.
The New South Wales and Queensland Rugby Unions have passed resolutions recognising that "rugby union is no longer an amateur sport". Ian Ferrier, the NSWRU chairman, said : "Rugby worldwide has been remunerating players and coaches in various ways for a very long time. The union believes rugby in all parts of the world needs to address this complex issue of remu neration of players and coaches.
"In light of the Super League developments of recent weeks and their impact on the game of rugby, the NSWRU board discussed the whole question of amateurism in rugby and considered the impact of Super League on our game. It was the view of the board that it was obvious to even the most casual of observers that rugby was no longer amateur. Amateurism as a concept is outmoded and should be dispensed with in the modern game."
Again you are confusing individuals and individual unions with the IRB.
The RFU voted against professionalism so picking out two chairman as saying that rugby union needed to respond to the SL is meaningless. That may have been their opinion but the RFU wasn't moved. It doesn't explain the IRB's change of heart because we know that the RFU maintained their opinion.
Again the southern hemisphere unions cited SL but there is no date on their comments. The IRB vote was taken months later by which time the SL threat had turned out not to exist. The WRC similarly may not have existed when these comments were made so there was no need to mention them. There is no reason to think that the SRU, IRFU, WRU etc would have suddenly changed their opposition to professionalism just because the Aussies and Kiwis were worried about losing a few players. The Welsh had lost hundreds and nobody had cared.
You seem to see the different unions as a monolith of amateurism, in fact there had always been a north vs south split on the issue. England was strongly against and the Celts plus Italy benefitted from the shamateur system as they could afford boot money payments but couldn't afford a pro league (and still can't), on the other side the SANZAR nations wanted professionalism. The NSWRU believed in professionalism long before 1995, it's not like their opinion changed. What changed is that the northern unions (bar England) saw the threat from the WRC.
You have no explanation for why South Africa was the first to sign up players with paid contracts when they weren't worried about SL (a lack of quotes on your part). No smoking gun.
Edited by Northern Sol, 13 December 2012 - 04:20 PM.