Entertaining fans paramount for Pulver
December 9, 2013
Bill Pulver says a hybrid match would be provide novelty value in the rugby calendar © Getty Images
Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive Bill Pulver says his No.1 priority is entertaining fans and he will listen to future proposals for a hybrid cross-code match against a rugby league outfit. The cash-strapped ARU was in talks with a third-party consortium to stage a clash against the Great Britain rugby league side at Wembley Stadium late next year, but the Rugby Football League (RFL) has ruled out participating in the concept.
Pulver denies pushing for the potentially lucrative fixture to go ahead, but admits he is interested. He'd be open to considering similar concepts in the future, including closer to home against league's Kangaroos, because of the public interest that could be generated by pitting the best of the best from the two codes against each other.
Already, the congested rugby calendar stretches from late February to early December, and Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie and star player Michael Hooper say Australia's focus must be on winning Test matches, after losing eight of 15 in 2013. Pulver said player interests would be considered before the green light was given to any hybrid cross-code match. But he believes the interests of fans must be paramount.
"Entertaining fans is the No.1 issue for me," Pulver said. "To be a successful code you want your national team being successful and your fans being entertained. It's a pretty simple formula. The concept is quite interesting ... the real question is how the fans would respond to that, and I suspect the fans would be quite intrigued by it.
"I don't see it as a regular-type event, it's a bit of a novelty. It's tough to find a slot to play a game like this so I wouldn't be pushing it, but I'm a willing listener of the concept."
Pulver said he was approached by a private consortium headed by Bob Dwyer, Mark Ella and Bob Fulton, but he understood the Wembley proposal was now off the table after a lack of interest by the RFL. McKenzie says a hybrid match isn't on the agenda, as far as he's concerned, with the Wallabies focusing on breaking their Bledisloe Cup drought and winning the Rugby Championship.
"There's always theories out there on how you can generate income. In any business you're going to look at opportunities if opportunities come along," McKenzie said. "But I'm just concentrating on core business and at the moment it's pretty important the Wallabies are concentrating on winning Test matches."
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