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In the Black - friendlies, finance and fund raising Underline 08 August, 2011
England's all black strip a money winner.
England showed off their new 'away kit' of all black for the first time, at 'home' against Wales, on Saturday, even if they didn't show off any All Black skills, except from their adopted Samoan, Manu Tuilagi.

While there has been much discussion about the merits of England going from white to black, mostly negative, there is no doubt it will be a moneymaker. Initial estimates suggest the shirt will pull in between 3 and 5 million Fijian dollars for the RFU. Together with the sell-out at Twickenham, that rises towards 10 million dollars into the coffers of English rugby. Not bad for a day's takings.

So these so called friendlies are, not only warm-up games for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup (RWC), but also fundraisers to finance the RWC campaigns of those countries involved. The marketing men and sponsors are out to maximise the merchandising of their product in the absence of any Autumn Tests.

The Welsh have two home games so they can expect similar revenue, as can Ireland with their two matches in Dublin. There have been suggestions, from Australia amongst others, of actually moving the date of future RWC’s so they do not clash with the November money spinner. Remember it is the IRB who control all the rights to the RWC, and they who decide where any profits made should go.

This is where the 'smaller' nations will always lag behind and lose out. They’d struggle to draw even five thousand spectators for a match leave alone 50,000. Thus they will always struggle financially off the pitch, as well as trying to compete on the pitch with those at the top, unless the IRB help out
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The problem is a nation of 700.000, ranked 14th, does not have the same say of that ranked 4th, with 50 million inhabitants, whatever shirt they chose to wear.

The French are not quite so ultraistic, when it comes to warm-up games, (a friendly is not a good description when it involes a player stretchered off with a broken leg: sic England v Wales). The national team will only play two matches, with the home one being in Bordeaux, a ground holding only 35,000. Perhaps they have enough money tucked away already.

At a club, level the bonding camps have also given way to more serious preparation for the new season. In the absence of the international stars, there is a chance for fringe players to stake their claim in the first team squad, until November at least. Timoci Matanavou has already scored on his first appearance for Toulouse and Saimoni Vaka is continuing from where he left off last season for Agen.

I shall be off in the next 10 days to review the prospects of Montpellier (v Leicester), Lyon (v Swansea Ospreys) and Toulouse (v Northampton Saints) amongst others, with those Fijians not committed to the RWC, including Rupeni Caucau, in various challenge matches.

So next week-end while the Flying Fijians take on Tonga and Ireland, Wales etc. will be looking to improve the bank balance, as well as assessing the choice of the final 30 to go to N.Z. D Day is Monday 22 August.

England will continue to play in the all black away kit, to increase sales. What happens if they meet the real All Blacks in the RWC? They'll have to revert to plain white, but those red rose followers with the away shirt can always cover up the emblem, and claim to have supported the winning team.

Moce mada.

Marc@rugbymarc
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