Ross Greenwood speaks to PBR Australia General Manager, Glenn Young, as the bull-riding State of Origin hits Sydney this weekend!
Ross Greenwood: Well, if you’re a long term listener of this program, you might know that we have, well, one particular interest that is a little unusual to some people. It’s this.
Announcer: Not only dazed and confused, but Dakota Butter, downright destroyed by that contact. The bull’s name is Fearless, but every rider should be fearful.
Ross Greenwood: That is PBR, Professional Bull Riding, which, of course, is coming to Australia now in a big way. In fact, it’s been here since, well, 2005 it’s been in Australia. It has, well, regional events. It has state versus state events, State of Origin on top of it. It’s terrific. Part of that is because of the success we told you previously on this program of PBR in the United States where it has been one of the fastest growing sports in the United States from a televised point of view, which is how we’re going to get onto it.
Last year, when the boss of the whole show, Sean Gleason, was in town with a whole bunch of international riders, we just couldn’t help ourselves. We spoke to Sean at the time, also spoke to a couple of the other riders including the former world champ, Guilherme Marchi, who was sensational in town here, and really had a good time.
Well, I got to tell you that in the next week or so, you’re going to see at the ICC, Sydney Theatre, Darling Harbour, the Professional Bull Riders, PBR Origin event going on; New South Wales versus Queensland. The man who’s the general manager of PBR in Australia who is Glen Young. Gooday, Glen. How are you doing?
Interview with: Glenn Young, General Manager, PBR Australia
Glen Young: Good thanks, Ross. How are you doing?
Ross Greenwood: Great. Look, there’s plenty of hoopla about bull riding, isn’t there? There’s a lot of danger, people understand it, but it’s the event. It’s just a fabulous event from a television point of view. It’s also just a fabulous event live, mainly because it’s a great show. That’s the one brilliance of it.
Glen Young: It’s got two great athletes. You’ve got to look at the bull as an athlete, no different than a racehorse and same as the rider. When you put two great athletes together in a competition head to head, which is really a mix match of a 70 kilos cowboy versus 1,000 kilos bull. It’s probably the most mixed matched boxing match in the world. Those guys, it’s a fistfight from the time you get out until the time the eight seconds whistle blows.
Ross Greenwood: We certainly see it, there are injuries. The riders have to be tough because the fact of the matter is, as you say, when that mismatch certainly weight and probably also anger comes to the fore, if you get stomped, it’s a one-way street really, isn’t it?
Glen Young: It is. Just this last weekend in Rockhampton, we had three top cowboys put in a position where they may not be able to compete at State of Origin next weekend. It’s one of those sports. Every time they nod their head, they know it could be their last. Tones of great of great guys have broken their backs or been sat on and had minor injuries. At this level of competition, we’re playing with these guys. They know what they’re getting into. They know how to get out of trouble. At the end of the day, if they get thrown to the ground hard and that bull ends on top of them, that’s probably the things we try to avoid, and we don’t like seeing.
Ross Greenwood: Tell me the sense of growth of Professional Bull Riding in Australia. It used to be the country rodeos that would go around the place to regional Australia, be it Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, right around the country. In those days it was, well, amateur in some ways. These days, it’s anything but, isn’t?
Glen Young: It is. If you look at the growth in Australia, ever since the bull riding away as a standalone sport from the traditional rodeo, it’s just had continual growth since day one. People always used to go to rodeos, but they used to hang around at the last event which is the bull riding to see how that went?
From the early days, these cowboys knew that if they did go away and break away and become a standalone sport, they knew that they had a good chance of attracting fans and growing new fans. It’s one of those things. We have some of those shows in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, and Campbell Canes, Newcastle, Tamworth, and even three original events. Then we’ve got. Now we’ve invested in our own portable stadium. We can actually guarantee a bull riding experience whether you’re in Darling, and you can go down to one in Traralgon, you’re going to get the same bull riding experience.
Ross Greenwood: Just a really dumb question for you. From the logistics point of view, trying to get those bulls into the ICC Sydney Theatre at Darling Harbour, that must be a logistical nightmare in its own just trying to get them in there, organized. Then, of course, to bring them out into the stage to actually put down that dirt floor as you do. It is a real exercise in logistics, the whole thing?
Glen Young: This is probably one of the most unique events we’ve ever done. It’s going to be one of the most intimate bull riding experience that Sydney can ever have. It’s an absolutely brilliant stadium. When you met Sean they last year, we both went in there and had a look at it just thought, “We got to do this.” That’s one of those things, it’s just the way it’s played. People are just right on top of the action.
It’s a very small arena, it’s very intimate. They’re going to really be able to experience this bull riding in it’s probably best format, against team versus team. At the same time, be able to back for each state. At the end of the day, when it comes to bringing in bulls, it’s just going to be done to time. It’s got to be well thought out. We’re just got to bring them in around the traffic and try and keep the stress levels for the animals down. That’s the same with the soil. All those stuff will require a lot of trucks through the city. It just means being logistically well thought out.
Ross Greenwood: I do know that say, for example, on Fox Sports Series, PBR coming out of America, the tour is basically broadcast through Fox Sports. What about even the Australian tour or some of these events, is there a television audience potentially for them?
Glen Young: Absolutely. What we’re doing right at the moment, we took it all on the piggy back of the US. The US is sending their live content to Australia, but we’re still in the story mode. We’re still teaching the Australian public about it. A lot of our shows are post produced and then released at the end of the season; December, January, February, March. They’re also on Fox Sports, but we also have them made on as well.
Ross Greenwood: I’ll tell you what, it really is worth something. It’s just one of those things that we got into and we realized this was an incredible growing sport and also the sponsors coming around, it was quite incredible. The television audiences in the United States are significant. What you’re going to see on June the 1st, Saturday, June 1st, at the ICC Sydney Theatre, Darling Harbour, is really some of the finest bull riders in Australia, and certainly some of the finest bulls.
They’re going to come from Queensland versus New South Wales. On top of that, what you’re going to see is international riders. There’s going to be two Mexican champions, two Brazilian champions, and the New South Wales and Queensland captains will toss a coin to figure out which of those will join them as part of their team. It really a great event, enormous amounts of hoopla. I got to say, it’s going to be interesting to watch how it happens. The general manager of PBR in Australia is Glen Young. Glen, I appreciate your time in the program.
Glen Young: No, worries. Thanks for having me, Ross.
Image source: PBR