Grumblings come in from many about the state of Scottish rugby, but in reality we need solutions. We need positivity. (I am aware of the irony of this statement, coming from me!)
It is taken for granted that the financial state of our teams is perilous and money seems to be leaking out of Murrayfield. Funding for the 7s, B&I Cup and Club International are continually questioned by those only interested in our two pro teams and full international sides doing well. In my opinion the 7s and club endeavours are actually the best way to bring on talented youth so the answer must come from somewhere else.
Blame can go both ways. The SRU has no investors of note but they also need more from the fans. With no money the output is poorer. With poorer output less fans want to part with their wonga and attendances drop. If attendances drop and shirts aren’t selling there is less money. Scotland laments.
In short Scottish rugby needs to become sexy again.
Sexiness (and trust me, as a prop I know) is a state of mind. The more people talking about you the sexier you appear. For the SRU this is tough because they have a marketing department but no Head of Marketing. They are trying to market their brands but can they have a direction?
This is where the fans come in. In a previous piece I talked about David Smart’s open petition to the SRU. I would like to propose an open ‘suggestion box’ of sorts where real fans propose ways of getting more people interested in our games. The best ones can be sent to the SRU marketing department (addressed to ‘Brian’ because if there was a Head of Marketing he would definitely be called Brian).
I have a suggestion myself:
With our country we need to get more youths interested in playing as well as buying into ‘Scottish Rugby’. This is where the most attention should be paid. The problem with this is that it is marketed at children in a way which shows superhuman figures, like Jacobsen and Paterson, which kids can’t really relate to. More 14-year-olds will be fans of Justin Bieber than they will be of Bruce Springsteen. You have to give them something to identify with.
If I was working in the marketing office in the bowels of Murrayfield I would be trying, right now, to knock up posters and campaigns for youth teams heralding the Scotland U18s and their recent victory over England. “Stick in with your SRU accredited training sessions and YOU TOO could beat England one day!” “Look at former Currie youth section player Tom Brown: he’s just signed for Edinburgh! Who will be signing from YOUR youth team?!”
If more people are playing and investment comes into youth clubs and schools I like to think those youth clubs and schools could be encouraged to give back?
Sending two players for a Q and A session at a school in Eyemouth isn’t going to get kids pouring through the gates of Murrayfield and Firhill but if you get them into the junior District Championship or the under age national sides you could probably get them to buy some kit at the very least (as a proud Caley player I would certainly buy my kid a limited edition Canterbury Caley reds top. “What’s that? The Caley reds club select are playing the Baa-Baas?! I’ll buy a top!” Wishful thinking, maybe, but with the South regularly playing the SRU could try and make some money from it…).
How do we get Scotland selling again? We have seen how well Scotland, with our limited resources, can play when they are confident. Surely bigger crowds would give back that confidence and it could all move on from there. We do also need some support for our rising stars because those in the Under 18s or on the McPhail scholarship have to kick on and if there is less academy investment or the pro teams can’t look after younger guys then we fall down, again.
So give some suggestions and help out the SRU’s marketing department. Sexiness needs your help. The youth need your help. I need some help…