View Comments Todrick Hall as Lola in ‘Kinky Boots'(Photo: Jenny Anderson) YouTube sensation Todrick Hall is back on Broadway, and he’s here to raise the grosses up for the long-running Kinky Boots. In Hall’s second week of performances, the Tony-winning musical grosses $888,131—the highest it’s been since the week ending March 27 (Emmy winner Wayne Brady’s final week). If the production can swing another similar spike, it’s possible Hall can bring the show’s grosses back to seven figures. Meanwhile, Hamilton topped the boards, celebrating its highest-grossing week at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Waitress broke a house record at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, grossing $160,589 in a single performance (Saturday, November 12 evening).Here’s a look at who was on top—and who was not—for the week ending November 13:FRONTRUNNERS (By Gross)1. Hamilton ($2,452,746)2. The Lion King ($1,838,816)3. Wicked ($1,752,417)4. Aladdin ($1,425,618)5. The Book of Mormon ($1,337,461)UNDERDOGS (By Gross)5. Oh, Hello ($540,865)4. Heisenberg ($405,006)3. The Cherry Orchard ($326,810)2. The Encounter ($246,529)1. In Transit ($180,893)*FRONTRUNNERS (By Capacity)1. The Book of Mormon (102.32%)2. Hamilton (101.78%)3. The Front Page (100.39%)4. Wicked (99.80%)5. The Lion King (99.75%)UNDERDOGS (By Capacity)5. Paramour (75.01%)4. Something Rotten! (74.83%)3. On Your Feet! (71.62%)2. Fiddler on the Roof (64.37%)1. The Encounter (60.05%)* Number based on five preview performancesSource: The Broadway League
By Dialogo November 10, 2009 ronaldinho has been the best player ever,the question of whether he is out of form or not, does not matter.what matters is that he still can play & has the ability,that is:(if you watch serie A games)so,coach Dunga please let the soccer wizard play.I”ve watched most of his games & so i can foresee the wonders he will do in the 2010 world cup. Please mr dunga we love brazill. It will be very unfortunate and uncalled for if Ronadinho will not be part of the team for reasons that are best know to a few. The young man is still good. Let us not discourage players. Whe you are going for war am sure you equip youself with different weapons. So ronadinho is one of the weapons for the 2010 dunga please let the guy play because he is still good juss witness him at AC MILAN and he is better than RAMIRES dunga please take ronaldinho……..he s getting hid touch and i am sure he s going to be the of worldcup…… please make ronaldinho play world cup 2010………please i m begging u….plz plz plz plz plz please mr dunga, try not to make the fans of ronaldinho sad, we fans would love to see him in 2010 world cup, i have been one of his fans since for a long time and i havent missed even a sigle match of his, i really enjoy watching his play and i think he still deserve world player, he is still a weapon for 2010’s world cup. Whether or not Ronaldinho Gaúcho will be included on the Brazilian team that will play for the World Cup in 2010 “depends only on him,” coach Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri “Dunga” affirmed in an interviewed published by the magazine Istoé. Ronaldinho “is a distinguished player,” but whether or not he is tapped again for the team and even for the South African World Cup “will depend on him” and on his results playing for Milan in Italy, the Brazilian coach explained. According to Dunga, the former forward for Barcelona “is a very distinguished player,” but this is not enough to be on his team. “I want to have the best, but selection for our team is no longer an exclusively technical question. It’s also a question of competitiveness and commitment,” noted the coach, who nevertheless acknowledged that he “thinks about” Ronaldinho when he imagines the team for the World Cup. Dunga’s words can be interpreted as a reply to the twenty-nine-year-old player, who said this week that he wants to play in the South African World Cup, which could be the last one of his career. “I want to go to the World Cup. I have a great relationship with Dunga. But it’s better not to think about it because it’s a waste of energy. I’m only going to concentrate on the present,” Ronaldinho explained. With regard to his own future, Dunga told Istoé that it is not something that worries him at the moment, since he is thinking only about the World Cup. “Being the team’s coach makes me very happy; it fills me with pride and satisfaction,” declared the coach, who nevertheless said that once the South African World Cup is over, he intends “to leave and give someone else the opportunity.” With regard to the possibility of his team winning its sixth World Cup title, he did not hide the fact that “Brazil is always a favorite,” but he noted that in order to win, “it’s necessary to work and to work a lot.”
105SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Anthony Burnett As Regional Director for LEVEL5, I prospect, identify and align the needs of financial institutions across the US with LEVEL5’s integrated service offering. We develop solutions that allow our … Web: www.level5.com Details Community based financial institutions (FI’s) are the heart and soul of America. These locally-owned and operated institutions are woven into the fabric of the communities we live in, work in, raise our families and build our lives. That building involves our careers, our hobbies and our futures. That future in large depends on…money, investment and risk.Most of us are not born with the equity we need to see our hopes and dreams come true. We need money to finance our education, our houses, cars and businesses. We need equipment, tools, facilities and employees to make our lives work. The local community bank and credit union steps in to make all of this possible. It is the reason they were created, and fuels the local economy and future.In today’s changing consumer environment, where omni-channel delivery is the norm, community banks and credit unions are also challenged with delivering services in a way that deepens their wallet share, household penetration and margins…so they can continue to fuel the American spirit.In years passed, that service was almost universally delivered the same way. A customer interacted with a “banker” in a branch across three feet of mahogany. Most interactions were transactional in purpose…check cashing, payments and order filling. The world had fewer channels for consumers to access financial resources and the delivery model…worked. No, it worked great!However, today we have smart phones, the Internet, and global mobilization thanks to technology. Routine components of all things financial are now automated. Checking balances, moving money, making payments and even loan applications are handled via smart phones, tablets, laptops, drive thru’s, and ATMs. Therefore, the purpose of the physical channel i.e. the branch has changed and with it the identity of the banker.A 2014 study by Ernst & young sheds tremendous light on what is happening, and what FI’s have done to adapt. The graph below shows consumer channel preference by banking task. The study found the more routine and automated the task, the more likely the consumer is to choose a “non-human” interfacing channel. However, the more complex the interaction, the more likely the consumer prefers a physical channel…especially when it comes to sales.Over the last decade, FI’s have been moving toward a different branch delivery model based on these preferences by consumers, so they can continue to deepen wallet share, reach more households, businesses and boost margins. What was born are Universal Bankers who do so much more than the routine…they now educate, advise, and teach consumers as they discuss products, introduce experts and create deeper relationships with their customer or member in the process. In fact, NCR estimates Universal Bankers can handle up to 95% of customer requests; the remaining 5% are referred to subject matter experts.The deepening of relationships with the customer is the key. Consumers today are becoming so much better at research and analysis, but they need help making decisions and choosing a partner. So, they’ll ask a friend or a thought leader, and then go and meet the people others also trust.FIs can strengthen these interactions and introductions by following these steps as they develop their own Universal Bankers:Hire people who like people and are engaging. Customer engagement is a culture shift that moves away from transactions and toward conversations.Train the banker to ask questions. Educate the consumer before offering solutions. The Banker’s job is to listen first, and then speak from his/her wealth of knowledge or bring in experts…when needed.Invest in tools that automate routine activities and create margin for the banker to invest time with their customers. Scheduling tools, staffing models, cash handling equipment, ATMs, and or Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) are examples of such investments.Remove the barriers to the customer. Often this involves eliminating fixtures that separate the customer from the banker, but it doesn’t have to be radical. The key is the facilitation of the desired experience.Promote the credit union’s brand in the physical environment. Stay away from artwork and use flat screens and marketing materials to communicate your unique brand message. Promote your value proposition so the community and customer know what you are about.Credit unions that embrace this model often see dramatic results. According to FDIC reports, a community bank in the Southwest organically grew its assets from $1.0 billion to $3.5 billion in five years with this engagement model. Furthermore, NCUA loan and asset data prove a credit union in Tennessee grew its loan portfolio by 50% in four years and another in the Carolinas grew its book of business by over $100 million in a similar period. These are real results, from real financial institutions who have embraced the Universal Banker model – engaging customers in a new way…and there are more.Investment in people and creating an environment that fosters engagement can change cultures. And, that culture is about building relationships…the heartbeat of the Universal Banker.
Xavier Bellavista, principal at Mercer, said: “Equity performance has been extraordinary, with double digit performance in all asset classes, but all fixed income asset classes have also done exceptionally well.”Separate figures from Mercer’s Pension Investment Performance Service (PIPS) showed that the median pension fund return over the first three quarters was 6.3%. The PIPS survey covered a large sample of pension funds, most of them occupational schemes.However, Bellavista warned: “This extraordinary median performance includes a high dispersion of returns among funds. This dispersion means some pension funds are not achieving their minimum objective of beating inflation in the mid- to long term.”“Equity performance has been extraordinary, with double digit performance in all asset classes”Xavier Bellavista, principal at MercerHe said the funds with the best performance over this period, in all risk profiles, were those with better diversification and without a European bias in their asset allocation.According to Bellavista, the most significant change in asset allocation among Spanish corporate pension funds over the past five years has been the emergence of non-euro fixed income as a key asset.Meanwhile, according to Inverco, while Spanish government bonds continue to decline in terms of importance – five years ago they made up over one-third of the average pension fund portfolio – they still form 20.6% of assets.Other long-term shifts have continued, with the average fixed income allocation falling slightly over the third quarter to 46.4% of portfolios. The equity allocation rose to 36.4% as at end-September 2019, with 23% in non-domestic stocks.The average allocation to domestic securities at end-September 2019 remained stable at 53.1% of portfolios, compared with 33.7% in non-domestic assets.According to Inverco, total assets under management for the Spanish occupational pensions sector at the end of September stood at €35.5bn, a 1.2% increase over the past year. The number of participants in the occupational system remained static at just under 2 million. Soaring markets over the third quarter of 2019 pushed Spanish occupational pension fund returns to 4% for the 12 months to 30 September 2019, according to the country’s Investment and Pension Fund Association (Inverco).The figure compared with a 2.9% average return for the 12 months to 30 June 2019, and a 0.7% return for the 12 months to end-September 2018.The third-quarter figures brought the average annualised returns for Spanish occupational funds to 2.9% for the three years to end-September 2019, and 2.8% for the five-year period.Inverco said stand-out performances were achieved by those pension funds with greater exposure to long-term fixed income, after the sharp revaluation of 10-year Spanish government bonds.
Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete in one of the four major American team sports, spoke Wednesday night at Seeley G. Mudd about his experience coming out in the NBA. Afterwards, there was a student-athlete panel discussing LGBT athletes’ experiences in the NCAA.The event was sponsored by Speakers Committee, Trojan Pride, the Academic Culture Assembly and the Special Events Committee.Collins played in the NBA for 13 seasons with New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets. In the 2012-2013 season, Collins announced he was gay. Later in 2014, he retired.In April of 2014, Collins was on the cover of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” issue.Collin said he got tired of lying to people by saying he was straight.“Up until 2009 I was even engaged and I called off the wedding a month before we were supposed to get married,” Collins said. “From 2009 until 2013 when I came out, I never dated other women and I just made up a girlfriend. I played for a lot of eastern conference teams and I always said I had this girlfriend who lived in L.A. and never came out [to] visit … I just got tired of telling that lie.”After much discomfort, Collins said he wanted to let it be known that he was gay. He explained that his uncle who has been openly gay for close to 30 years, still has to explain his sexuality to some people.“It’s not like when you come out … that’s it.”Collins wanted to come out fully uncensored and from his perspective.“I saw that TMZ had a little article on EJ, Magic Johnson’s son, and I didn’t want that to be me,” Collins said. “I wanted to control my story.During the discussion, Collins cited his experience with Sports Illustrated, saying that the publication allowed him to tell hsi story from a first-person perspective.“Most of the time when you’re an athlete or just a regular person you get interviewed [and] it’s always the reporter’s job to shape the story … but this was going to be all my words. I was able to take the conversation, shape my words onto paper and then I was the final editor.”According to Collins, his teammates and fellow professional athletes were extremely encouraging and caring.“One of the phone calls that came in … was Deron Williams, point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, and [he] was extremely supportive,” Collins said. “Also, Jerry Stackhouse, former basketball player that went to North Carolina and was my teammate in Atlanta, just hearing [Jerry’s] response was incredible, because I really respect his opinion. His words were … extremely supportive. The same things from Paul Pierce. The list goes on, [and] Doc Rivers, people who just were extremely supportive.”Despite people understanding his decision, Collins knew there would be others who wouldn’t agree.“Later in your career, your talent level isn’t going to increase. [For] a lot of talent or evaluators … it’s the eyeballing test, it’s the ‘does he look like he can play,’” Collins said. “So I worked my butt off. I was in incredible shape … and I knew that I didn’t want to let anyone say that about me, yet one GM got back to me and did say something negative along those lines.”Collins said people are capable of understanding other individuals situation and feelings. He discussed how a former teammate first made homophobic comments toward him, but later gave Collins full support.“I didn’t know what to expect from him, however he was one of the guys who went out of his way early on when I was back with the team … [to say] ‘hey, I just want you to know how proud I am of you, and I’m glad that you’re back in the league … I’m glad that you’re here and how big this is going to be for people going forward.’”Collins explained that this represented a promising shift in attitudes toward him in his sexuality.“This [sic] shows you that people are capable of change, that they just need someone to step up and show them.”
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With no national television audience.“Listen, the game’s big (Wednesday),” Rivers said. “But we need a practice more.”Ah, OK. To quote someone who also once found this topic incredulous, “We talkin’ about practice.”As head coach, Rivers naturally is more concerned about the big picture than a small snapshot, the Clippers convening Tuesday for just their second practice since the season began.That’s how crowded their schedule has been so far, a schedule that just saw the Clippers go five weeks without having more than one day off between games.Still, you’d think, having spent most of their lives playing basketball, these guys would have figured out the game by now. I mean, two points for a basket, one point for a free throw, etc.Of course, it’s not that easy, NBA teams needing practice in order to refine, retool and bond as a group. They’re not practicing to become better individually but rather better as one.“Sometimes, practices override the game,” Rivers explained before his team’s workout Tuesday. “So we’re going to practice hard and hopefully we have something (left) for (Wednesday). In the long run, it will be better for us.”That’s great. For the Clippers.But what about the rest of us? What about the fans? What about the short run, Doc?I’m thinking ESPN would prefer that the Clippers save some energy for the Warriors seeing how the network is paying $1.4 billion a year to televise this game and others just like it.“If we’re tired (against Golden State),” Rivers said, “we’re tired.”Just a guess here, but I suspect the Clippers will somehow find the jump for Golden State that was missing Sunday for Indiana, a game during which he Clippers went as flat as the Staples Center floor in losing 111-102.If they need motivation, they’ll be facing a team they haven’t beaten in almost two years. No kidding; it really has been that long.The Clippers have dropped six in a row to Golden State, their most recent victory coming on Christmas Day, 2014.Since then, the Warriors have won an NBA title, set a record for regular-season victories, lost another NBA Finals and acquired Durant, a move that was viewed as the rich not only getting richer but getting feloniously richer.The Clippers, on the other hand, have continued to win a bunch of regular season games, suffer terribly timed and placed injuries and disappoint in the playoffs.And yet…“We’re a confident group,” guard Jamal Crawford said. “We really are. After losing three in a row, I’m not sure a bunch of people gave us a chance going into Cleveland. We felt good about it the whole time.”The Clippers beat the Cavaliers on Thursday, 113-94, a game that featured little-used Alan Anderson helping make LeBron James look like, well, like little-used Alan Anderson.Against Golden State, the Clippers will face Klay Thompson just two days after his absurd 60-point effort in a 142-106 victory over the Pacers.Thompson made 13 2-pointers, eight 3-pointers and 10 free throws in only 29 minutes.According to reports, Thompson had the ball in his hands for only 88 seconds, dribbled just 11 times all game and was third on the team – behind Stephen Curry and Draymond Green – in touches.“That’s remarkable,” Rivers said, after referencing the 88-second stat. “It would take me five years of time to score that many points.”Thankfully for the Clippers, Rivers is their coach and not their shooting guard.Thankfully, too, this team should be fresher than it has been in awhile, given a day off Monday followed by a prized practice.That’s assuming Rivers didn’t push the Clippers too hard Tuesday and instead focused on tightening up their play, on dotting the i’s and closing the t’s, like the ink on Allen Iverson. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Yes, we will, we’ll dress up this game so extravagantly that there can be no denying that it is the most gigantic, most titanic, most volcanic basketball gathering that will be staged – ever.Or until the Clippers and Warriors meet next time.But get this: Doc Rivers suggested the more important gathering for the Clippers this week actually happened already, on Tuesday.At their training center.In front of zero fans. PLAYA VISTA >> It isn’t just 1 of 82. Don’t be silly. It’s much more significant than that.Like 1 of 4, 1 of 4 precious meetings this season between the Clippers and Warriors, rivals whose dislike for one another dates to before Golden State was good enough to generate dislike throughout the rest of the league, as well.Even if the game Wednesday at Staples Center — the first between the teams this season and first since the Warriors added Kevin Durant — weren’t epic enough already, there was an absolute guarantee it would, like it or not, become epic.“Any time there’s hype … this is the most media I’ve seen before a game all season,” forward Blake Griffin said Tuesday. “So, obviously, you guys will make it that.”
CLEAR LAKE — Awards are starting to be handed out as part of a program to help small businesses in Cerro Gordo County impacted by the pandemic. The North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation’s “Small Business Recovery & Continuity Fund” was set up to help small, independently-owned businesses with less than 25 employees.CEO Chad Schreck told the Clear Lake City Council Monday night that a committee reviewed 150 total applications and started making awards last week. “We completed the first phase of the review process this past Wednesday and have made notification to 120 initial grant awardees this past Friday. We wanted to notify those folks before we released everything publicly. We’ve started that process and we’ve had a great response, very appreciative folks from that, again of the city and your investment in this effort.”Schreck says over $400,000 has been distributed so far. “Of those initial round of applications, we had $416,000 in total so far awarded. $130,000 of those in Clear Lake specifically, with the remainder between the county and Mason City. We have about $100,000 in total remaining in the fund that we are going to be evaluating and determining the next steps for that.”Schreck says he feels they had a very good system utilized in trying to be as objective as possible with the applications. “In this first phase, we really focused in on the impact to the business from the coronavirus, things like being shut down, unable to be open, loss of revenue, those types of things. Need, their ongoing expenses, fixed expenses, things of that nature. Had they received prior funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority or federal programs, and also the impact of the grant on the company itself. Is $5000 or $3000 or whatever the amount going to play a significant role in keeping that business going.”Schreck says it’s also been fortunate to see local businesses take advantage of state and federal funding. “One of the things we saw that was really helpful in being able to spread that money around is that we did have 45 businesses so far in our county that received the Iowa economic development funding grant program, and that totaled just shy of $900,000 in the county. That was a big boost as well that helped us really spread that impact around more to other businesses that had not been as fortunate yet. We’ve also seen a significant amount of Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Funds from SBA come through.”The Mason City City Council approved $300,000 for the program, while the Clear Lake City Council and Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors each allocated $100,000 to the fund.
Branislav Ivanovic hit the winner on Chelsea’s last visit to Villa ParkKick-off: 12.45pm, Saturday 2 April 2016Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Preston, Lancashire)Match in a nutshell: Chelsea will be confident of claiming three points to narrow the gap on the European places when they visit rock-bottom Aston Villa.Five key battles: Including Cesar Azpilicueta v Carles Gil Injuries and suspensionsASTON VILLARuled out: Jordan Amavi (knee), Libor Kozak (ankle), Gabby Agbonlahor (club suspension).Fitness tests: Adama Traore (foot), Jack Grealish (ankle).CHELSEARuled out: Eden Hazard (thigh), Kurt Zouma (knee), Diego Costa (suspended).Fitness tests: Willian (match fitness), Oscar (match fitness). Possible line-upsAston Villa: Guzan; Hutton, Richards, Clark, Cissokho; Westwood, Gueye; Gil, Veretout, Ayew; Gestede.Subs from: Bunn, Bacuna, Lescott, Okore, Richardson, Lyden, Sanchez, Green, Grealish, Traore, Sinclair, Davis.Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Loftus-Cheek; Pedro, Fabregas, Kenedy; Traore. Subs from: Begovic, Amelia, Aina, Miazga, Clarke-Salter, Baba, Matic, Willian, Oscar, Pato, Remy, Falcao. Vital statisticsForm guide – last five league matchesAston Villa total: L L L L L (0 points)Home: L L L W D (4 points)Chelsea total: D D W W W (11 points)Away: W W D W W (13 points)Top scorers – all competitionsAston Villa: Gestede 6, Sinclair 6; Ayew 5; Gil 2, Richards 2; Agbonlahor 1, Bacuna 1, Bennett 1, Clark 1, Grealish 1, Gueye 1, Lescott 1, Traore 1.Chelsea: Costa 15; Willian 10; Oscar 8; Fabregas 5, Pedro 5; Traore 4; Cahill 3, Ramires 3, Remy 3; Azpilicueta 2, Hazard 2, Ivanovic 2, Kenedy 2, Zouma 2; Falcao 1, Loftus-Cheek 1, Matic 1, Mikel 1, Terry 1.Last five meetings17 October 2015: Chelsea 2 Aston Villa 07 February 2015: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 227 September 2014: Chelsea 3 Aston Villa 015 March 2014: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 021 August 2013: Chelsea 2 Aston Villa 1Aston Villa 1 win, Chelsea 4 wins, 0 drawsFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
4 June 2010The Vodacom Bulls’ victory over the Stormers in the Super 14 final in Soweto last weekend not only broke boundaries as the biggest rugby game ever to take place in a township; it broke South African television records as well.Figures released on Thursday by BMI Sport Info, South Africa’s leading independent sport and sponsorship research company, showed that rugby made significant inroads into the country’s black population, with black viewers accounting for almost 30 percent of the total viewing audience.According to the viewership figures, a new record viewing audience of 2.9-million South Africans of 16 years and older watched the final between the Bulls and Stormers at Orlando Stadium on television.More than doubledThis more than doubled the 1.4-million viewers that watched the 2009 final between the Bulls and the Chiefs.The historical significance of the game prompted SABC to also broadcast the game live, and it had an immediate effect on viewership, tapping a new wealth of rugby fans.The total recorded audience was also considerably higher than the 950 000 adults who watched the Bulls’ semi-final clash the week before.Around 60 percent of fans watched the match on SABC2 and 40% on Supersport, allowing for a significant growth in black viewership, which increased by 127% compared to the 2009 Super 14 final.Significant boostThe total black viewership was over 840 000, almost 30 percent of the total audience and a significant boost to the sport in the country.“These amazing figures show there is a significant support base for rugby amongst black viewers and the historic move to use Orlando Stadium for the semi-finals and finals of the Vodacom Super 14 was a positive move,” BMI’s Johan Grobler said of the figures.“And the growth wasn’t only amongst black South Africans, as there was also a significant jump among female viewers – with figures increasing 140% from those in the 2009 finals.“For the first time, ladies outnumbered the men by accounting for 51 percent of the viewers.”Soweto’s influenceClearly, the success of the Bulls semi-final win over the Crusaders and the excitement and hype surrounding the final in Soweto, along with the mouth-watering clash between two of the oldest South African rivals, played a major part.Despite the record viewership represented by the TAMS rating, according to BMI’s James Monteith the actual audience figure is much higher, if you take into account the social aspect of watching a massive final together with friends.“Out of home viewing by people with no private access to a TV or purely because it’s more fun watching at a venue with friends, can add substantially to the total audience,” Monteith said.“This can add an additional 50% to the audience for events with no broadcast on free to air TV, and between 23% and 35% for events that are broadcast on free to air TV.“With out of home viewing added to the recorded television audiences, the total number that watched the final is likely closer to 3.7-million adults.Trend“An all-South African final with the added excitement of it being hosted in Soweto added to the interest in the match, but it only continued a trend we had seen all season,” said Oregan Hoskins, the president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU).“The audience was up 38% in February and continued to increase every week over the tournament – even before the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Stormers emerged as the tournament’s pace-setters.“We’re seeing sustained and unprecedented levels of interest in rugby. Our players and coaches have led the way with their performances on the field.“Supporters like to follow successful teams and associate with winners, and our teams have certainly been that.”Improved quality of rugbyHoskins added that the emphasis law makers had placed on interpretations to encourage ball-in-hand play and cut down on scrum resets, improving the quality of rugby had had an impact.The audience for the final was 55% higher than last year’s final and 28% higher than the Sharks and Vodacom Bulls final in 2007. Thirty-one matches had audiences of more than half-a-million viewers compared to only 13 in 2009.Hoskins added: “Congratulations to the Vodacom Bulls on winning the title and retaining it for South Africa – the trophy was one of the big attractions of the Champion Tour with which we began the year.“People flocked to share in the success of rugby at first hand and thanks to our Vodacom Super 14 teams we’ve had a marvellous start to the year.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material