An open letter to the Board of Australian Rugby Union - Green and Gold Rugby

An open letter to the Board of Australian Rugby Union

An open letter to the Board of Australian Rugby Union

5 September 2017

On 15 November 2016, I sent an email to Mr Pulver detailing my online petition with more than 2000 signatures pleading for the survival of the Western Force. I received no response.

On the 6 April 2017, The West Australian published an article I wrote “Please Don’t take away our Western Force”, but, (at the ARU,) you don’t know me.

For the past 6 years, I have been a committee member of the Hawkesbury Agricultural College Rugby Union Football Club. We just won the First Grade Grand Final in Second Division Sydney Suburban Rugby Competition by the way. But, (at Christie Street, St Leonards,) you don’t know me.

In 2000 and 2001 I was the assistant team manager of the Royal Australian Air Force National Rugby Union Team competing in Australian services Rugby Union. But, (around the Board Table,) you don’t know me.

From 1991 – 1999 I was on the committee of the Katherine Lions Rugby Union Football Club in the Northern Territory. But, (in the Corporate Box at ANZ Stadium,) you don’t know me.

I am one of the tens of thousands who volunteer our time to support Rugby Union in this country and it appears you don’t know any of us.

As the elected officials of Rugby Union in this great country how do you represent the people if you don’t spend any time with them? When was the last time you sat in the grand stand to watch a test match? I am not talking about Sitting in a corporate box at ANZ Stadium in a suit and tie and the mandatory Wallabies Gold scarf hung around your neck drinking wine and not even knowing what the score is.

I am talking about buying a ticket, sitting with the Rugby Public – wearing Jeans and an old Jersey. Taking your hat off for the singing of the national anthem. Drinking beer out of a plastic cup and getting in to a shout with the people you are sitting with. When was the last time you watched a Super Rugby match, rather than just the highlights on TV? When was the last time you went to a game of Club Rugby? When was the last time you saw any Junior Rugby? When was the last time you stood in a tunnel to welcome your team on to the field? When did you last stand on a hill, in the rain eating a bbq sausage in bread and a beer having told the person behind the bar to “keep the change” to help out the club.

If the answers to the above questions were never, or not for a long time. Then let me point out to you the obvious. You are out of touch with the Rugby community that you represent.

If you were in touch with the Rugby Community, you would quickly realise that not everyone can afford $200 to purchase a ticket to the Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney. Not everyone can afford $160 for a Wallabies Jersey. If you were in touch with the Rugby Community no one cares about South African Rugby, Japanese Rugby or Argentinian Rugby. Why are they more important than Australian Rugby?

As the Board of Australian Rugby, you have one job. To grow and promote the sport of Rugby Union in Australia. By cutting an Australian Team from Super Rugby how exactly are you growing or promoting the game here in Australia? You have failed.

I believe that there is a job opening for the CEO Role of Australian Rugby. Please consider this my application. I have 20 years of Rugby Administration experience. Can the last 2 CEO’s say that?

Yours in Rugby,

Simon Powell

  • Perth girl

    Well said Simon!

  • BD

    Great application. You’ve got my vote

  • formerflanker

    Best part of Simon’s argument – the fawning over other countries rugby programs at the expense of Australia, its players and supporters.

  • Andrew Luscombe

    Unfortunately the ARU was corporatised about 4 years ago, so the board normally appoints replacement board members. Your application includes a number of questions indicating a lack of aquaintance with the current board members. I suggest that to have any chance you’d be better off moving in more ‘elevated’ social circles, getting to know some of the current board members, doing them or their families some friendly favours (eg inviting them and their children to a day on the harbour on your yacht along with a couple of sports stars), and providing them some useful business contacts. You’ll also need to agree with 95% or more of the statements they make. Serving on some boards of smaller organisations without coming into significant disagreement with any of those board members will help demonstrate that you are a safe candidate with little risk of making public disparaging remarks about board members and their decisions.

  • brokendown

    you come from the wrong side of town,son-reapply with a better address

    • Bakkies

      Not sure if Simon has family in Mosman

      • Pearcewreck

        My Brother-In-Law used to live at Cremorne.
        Does that count?

  • ForceFan

    You seem way to good a bloke Simon and have too much of a feeling for the grass roots level of the game. Nice try but simply NOT elitist enough!

  • Ian

    Breaks my heart

  • Muzz

    This shows the clear disconnect within the game. Everyone knows it but it’s probably not going to change because the powers that be don’t need it to. Even though the game suffers as a result

  • Bakkies

    Hear hear Simon and c’mon the Katherine Lions

    • Simon Powell

      A remarkable team in a 4 team competition. Play each other for 5 months then go on to the final series.

      I could tell some stories…..

  • Mica

    Wouldn’t it be great if someone with influence in the ARU structure actually responded to this? After all this would have to be the premier fan based site for rugby in Australia. C’mon ARU here’s a (green & ) golden opportunity to show your willingness to actually show that you value the fans (and the lifeblood) of the sport that you have the privilege to represent.

  • Sevenwithasixonmyback

    That jersey price has just got me buggered.
    Teams should strive to have their colours walking the streets and packing the hill, yet they all rob supporters blind with cost of apparel.
    Top-tier teams charge $160-$180 for replica/on-field jerseys and about $60 for simple training shirts.
    My little ol’ Club team sells me the same jersey/shirt made by the same manufacturers as top-tier teams; run-on, silicon grippy dimples, sponsors, all the bells and whistles and it costs me $70 for the jersey and $20 for the training tee…
    I wonder where those extra bucks are going… We sorry punters are paying for ARU licensing, not our colours.
    I don’t own a current Wallabies jersey. Nor a current ‘Tahs. They don’t deserve my money every time they have a rebranding. I’ll proudly wear my Club kit, knowing my money goes to them and they treat me fairly. Knowing they appreciate it, not expect it.
    The ARU expect us to perform for them, like dancing monkeys. They are the top tier. Players and fans are incidental. The essential riff-raff endured to allow the Board members and decision makers their lifestyle.
    It’s such a sorry thing to know that we are branded The QANTAS Wallabies. Major sponsors call the shots. Corporatisation has taken our identity and I fear it is far too late to reign in the greed that powers our top tier competitions.
    Who wants to wear a suit to the rugby for Christ’s sake?

  • Bay35Pablo

    ” By cutting an Australian Team from Super Rugby how exactly are you growing or promoting the game here in Australia?”
    We were/are going broke. They aren’t making that up. It isn’t an excuse.
    Basically their rationale is if we kept 5 teams we’d be broke in 2 years.
    I invite an alternative solution.
    Twiggy’s coin isn’t a fix. Too late for that now. However, if he’s still a rugby lover, I suspect that coin could help keeping the sport going for the next 3 yars while we get this mess sorted out.

    • Simon Powell

      I am sure that there are 1000 different ways that ARU could have saved money and yet kept 5 teams. Yet they didn’t even try. They went for the quick fix. According to Mr Clyne the ARU Board was aware that current system was unsustainable 3 or 4 years ago. What did they do about it then? Nothing. They just kept on doing the same thing and hoping for a different outcome. Or – if you believe some people, they set about a process of legally kicking a team out of the competition.

      Why didnt they just centralise everything. Merchandising, Marketing, Sponsorships, Recruitment, Ticketing. It would have saved the 5 Super Clubs millions. But they didnt try. It was too hard.

      Leaders lead, they make the tough choices, they do whats right for everyone, not just whats right for a 30km radius around St Leonards.

      Easy options are never the right options, they are for lazy, near sighted people only concerned with short term outcomes.

      The first job of Australian Rugby is to grow and promote the game of Rugby Union in Australia. You find away to make the money work. Thats what smart businessmen do.

      • DK

        For the past few years these ‘businessmen’ have been given options.
        Option A. (money) means the ARU will get $x over x years.
        Option B. (Rugby) means the ARU could have x new registrations.

        They’ve chosen option A every time and they’re still losing money.
        -What sort of a company has the CEO resign and then stay in the role collecting a paycheck?
        -How many of the board have ANY qualifications or relevant experience in Sports management or Sports business?
        -How come all these ‘businessmen’ cant negotiate a better insurance deal for its registered players?
        -Pulver is an IT guy and the ARU website has fixtures and info on it from 2015….update it champ.

        Got 1000 of these points.

        If the ARU were a publicly listed company the board would be up for criminal charges of gross mismanagement. Maybe twiggy can find a way to get them that way.

        • Assistant TMO

          I suggest you research what the average registration is and divide the amount of money you think we need by that number to get the “new registrations” needed.
          I think you’ll find it will be multiples of the current player base.

          Important to increase registrations… hell yes!!!
          Keep the doors open…..nope!

          PS, dont suggest they increase that fee, you will not get out alive.

      • Bakkies

        ‘What did they do about it then? Nothing.’

        Exactly and wrote off 13 million that was owed to them.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      What about the solution most other sports use. Negotiate with NZ, SA and Argentina to put players on a percent of SANZAAR revenue. If the ARU can negotiate to keep the same revenue for cutting a team which has proven to be very risky and on average damaging to revenue over the years, they can surely negotiate a solution that is tried and tested in many leagues and sports throughout the world.

      They did not even try any of the obvious things. Defying the standards of their industry in such a fashion amounts to gross negligence as directors.

  • Robyn Grubb

    Fabulous… thanks for taking the time to write this up.. oh yes and the 20 years of experience that gives you not just the right, but the authority to put it out there :)


I'm a Force man. Sea of Blue - through and through.

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