Scott Higginbotham
Scott Higginbotham Cameron Spencer - Getty Images

The reality of rugby

SO, Scott Higginbotham is off to the Rebels for two years. I have no issue with this, whatsoever. It's one reality of the professional era. As a professional with possibly eight-to-ten productive years in his career, he has to do what is in his best interests, and that of his rugby career.

Loyalty, in a sporting context, has evolved. It now represents 'connection' to a players current team/organisation, but for only as long as his contract, and for as long as it's in his best interest. It is what it is. And it simply highlights the transformation of loyalty as a concept for a professional football player.

Another issue highlighted by Higgers' movement is the changing meaning and relevance of 'representative' rugby in the 21st century. All of the outfits in Super rugby are 'teams' representing geographic locations, but are not representative teams. And there is a significant difference.

The Reds are to the Broncos as Queensland is to New South Wales. The Reds are a team representing rugby in Queensland, not a Queensland representative team. The Reds are the professional, high-profile entity owned and operated by the QRU, but you don't have to be a Queenslander to be selected for the Reds.

I mean anyone can play for the Reds, for example, irrespective of their birth place or rugby development. This is not the case with, say, The QLD origin team, which has stringent terms dictating selection.

Mark McBain was the last coach who based his Reds selection on a player's Queenslanderness - and he was run out of the job as a result.

Higgers is moving from one professional role and outfit to another, he is not breaking any extra super provincial covenant by moving from the Reds. It's not as though he is breaking loyalty to Queensland, as a Queensland rep player.

For all intents and purposes, Queensland is no longer represented at the senior level in rugby. Or New South Wales or ACT for that matter. Their professional, high profile entities represent the code in each location, but the old rules of representation no longer apply. Once again, no issues with this either.

Moving this reality along slightly, what is does open up the potential for down the track, is a 'mini' national provincial 'series' (of sorts) based on, I'll be delicate here, the origin of one's birth and/or rugby playing background. You see where I'm going here.

One issue would be finding a place for it within the already congested, eleven month long season of the professional player. Nonetheless, possibly down the track, something along these lines may eventuate.


The Scores

Brumbies bt Hurricanes 25 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Highlanders 16 bt Bulls 11 at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Crusaders 59 bt Blues 12 at Christchurch Stadium in Christchurch.

Reds 34 bt Lions 20 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Sharks 34 bt Cheetahs 20 at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

Stormers 19 bt Waratahs 13 at Newlands Rugby Stadium in Cape Town.

Melbourne Rebels Melbourne Rebels: 32 bt Western Force: 31 at NIB Stadium in Perth.

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