NZR hopes to improve relations with fans after ‘taking fans for granted’

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New Zealand rugby admits it needs to improve its relationship with supporters as it aims to increase crowd size at Super Rugby Pacific 2023.

While the sport in the country remains strong in terms of performance and talent, fans have begun to desert all four franchises with declining attendance over the years.

Super Rugby Aotearoa briefly revived interest when action resumed following the hiatus caused by the Covid pandemic, but it did not reverse the trend.

While Super Rugby Pacific is still a high quality competition on the player side and also bridges the gap to Test rugby, NZR are looking to improve things when it comes to the fan base.

Investing in supporters

“I think if we’re really self-critical about Super Rugby,” said NZR chief professional rugby and performance manager Chris Lendrum. The All Blacks Podcast. “It’s been an incredible competition from a high performance perspective for its entire lifespan, but we haven’t collectively invested in the rugby fan and we’ve probably taken the fan for granted a bit.

“We have a lot of catching up work to do, people are very demanding these days, we are running out of time as you know so we have a lot of work to do and now we are ready to roll up our sleeves.

“We have a definite product, great competition, it’s all in regional time zones, so if you want to watch all six games every weekend then you can.”

Covid has undoubtedly had an impact on the fan experience but, with restrictions lifted and competition much less likely to be hampered, NZR can now turn its attention to fans.

Lendrum says Test Rugby has been the governing body’s primary focus, potentially causing them to take their eyes off the ball when it comes to who ultimately decides the game’s success.

Unintentional

“I don’t think it’s too intentional, no one is saying ‘we want to exclude the fans’,” he added.

“But we are very focused on performance and frankly there have been benefits to that, at international level we have performed very well.

“All countries in SANZAAR performed very well internationally over the duration of the competition, so we did some good things there, but we just didn’t invest in bringing this competition to the fans.

“We have a lot of the best players in the world playing in this competition, in fact you would now say a lot of them are going to be playing in the Aupiki Super Rugby, so there are more stories to unpack from these players as as individuals and as teams that we can take to the public.

“You can see people want to engage and understand people’s individual stories, we have great color in the game, in New Zealand rugby it’s a game for all New Zealanders, we get all types of people from all walks of life and the background of our game and let’s really show it.

READ MORE: All Blacks star Beauden Barrett offered contract waiver by New Zealand Rugby

The article Super Rugby Pacific: NZR hopes to improve relations with fans after ‘taking fans for granted’ appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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