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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday Rugby News has Rob Clarke calling it quits, more bloody silence, nervous Kiwis and plenty of welcome returns.


Clarke Calls it Quits

ARU logo

For months we’ve heard next to nothing from the ARU, with talk about decisions behind the closed doors of the HQ in St Leonards, and whisperings and apparent disagreements running rife in the media. So, if there was any indication of what actually is happening, then yesterday we may have got a glimpse of it: the chief operating officer Rob Clarke officially tendered his resignation.

Touted as the next in line after Bill Pulver is sacked resigns, Clarke’s removal couldn’t have come at a worse time for the governing body. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Clarke was “a central figure in the process of either the Rebels or Western Force being cut from Super Rugby as part of SANZAAR’s restructuring of the competition.”

Similarly, the ARU’s online media platform, rugby.com.au, echoed that ” Clarke had been at the forefront of a turbulent time in Australian rugby” (quite clearly not anyone).

Before joining the ARU, Clarke had stints at both the Rebels and the Brumbies, and is well-regarded within much of the Australian rugby community. If anything, his resignation will only make matters even worse in regards to deciding which team to be cut in 2018. So really, no one is winning on this one.

 

 

Speaking of 2018…

clyne and pulver

Yep, it’s still silent. But what’s more concerning is that, with a SANZAAR meeting coming up next Wednesday (10th May) in Tokyo, there are many concerned with what exactly will be discussed in regards to the situation of cutting teams. ARU Chairman Cameron Clyne, who sat down with The Australian, said that while he wasn’t able to comment on what progress had been made on the decision of cutting a team, he argued that “what’s got lost in this entire debate is why we are here.”

“The status quo is not tenable. People are concerned about the under-investment in grassroots and they’re concerned about the declining performances of our Super Rugby teams.

“We came up with a strategy and I accept that people will criticise it, but there is no magic pudding.”

He even highlighted that a letter signed by 43 former Wallabies and former head coaches Bob Dwyer and Alan Jones (which was seen at the time as being ignored by the ARU) had actually been a major catalyst for a restructuring of the competition.

“The overwhelming feedback was that we overspent on professional rugby at the expense of grassroots. One line in particular stood out: That the ARU has invested in a national strategy as the expense of our traditional heartlands.”

Regardless, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for the ARU. They are not getting out of this in one piece.

The Western Force, with backing from the Western Australian government (who poured $100 million into redeveloping NIB Stadium) have taken out a writ against the ARU, the Melbourne Rebels have also indicated they will pursue legal action if the ARU moves against them, and even SANZAAR itself could take the ARU to court if they do not meet their obligations to cut a team. Either way, the ARU has to make the call and face the music. And soon.

The Kiwis are nervous?!

All Blacks haka

Yes, they are. According to Fox Sports, New Zealanders are looking towards the British & Irish Lions tour with increasing concern, as more and more of the first choice All Blacks find themselves sidelined due to injuries sustained during the current Super Rugby campaign.

To name a few, the injured list includes: Nehe Milner-Skudder, Israel Dagg, current test captain Kieren Read, Ben Smith, Jerome Kaino and Dane Coles.  Sam Whitelock, who is tipped to be the back-up skipper in the event of Read’s absence, is also out, currently facing a two match suspension for striking against the Cheetahs.

With the start of the Lions series only six weeks away, these players will be aiming to be back in peak form for the series by the time their opposition rolls into town. Warren Gatland has noted the struggles that Steve Hansen has with selections, and that he has “good cause to be concerned.”

By comparison, the Lions have had more positive news in regards to injuries, with captain Sam Warburton, scrumhalf Conor Murray and lock Alun Wyn Jones deemed fit and ready for the tour.

To put it mildly, if there is any ultimate test of the depth of New Zealand rugby, then this is it. If they win the series convincingly with a younger team, where the hell do you go from there?!

On a lighter note…

Tahs v Force 2017 (1 of 1)

There are plenty of familiar faces making their return this weekend in Super Rugby. One big one is for the Western Force, with Wallaby Adam Coleman starting for the men from the west against the Sharks in South Africa. He was out since round 2 against the Reds, so is a much needed boost for the injury-ravaged Force.

Meanwhile, over at the Waratahs, they have had plenty of faces return for their match against the Blues in Sydney. A win would see the Tahs potentially find themselves at the top of the Aussie conference with the Brumbies (and that’s really saying something about this year).

Tolu Latu makes his return to the bench after recovering from a shoulder injury, and Reece Robinson also returns to the wing after Taqele Naiyaravoro was ruled out with a hand injury.

However, the most notable change is the return of Jake Gordon to the starting lineup and the relegation of Nick Phipps to the bench, despite the Wallaby halfback having a pretty solid game against the Queensland Reds last week.

Finally, over at the Melbourne Rebels, young gun Harrison Goddard is set to make his debut off the bench. The Reds have named a relatively unchanged side, and the Brumbies have the bye.

 

 

  • Nutta

    So the Puller is goneski and so is the COO. Has there been any word whatsoever from the ARU as to the succession plan? Grim.

    I am trying to identify who the foreign villain is going to be for the AIB. As sure as Trump needs Mexicans, the AIB’s need a foreigner to distract and throw stuff at (certain undertones of another mob in black who blamed others for made-up stuff but I’ll leave that glaring one be). Be it Susie the waitress (Dehli Belly in Jo’burg), Adrian the Guard (the guards guard), Brian O Driscoll (he faked the injury and threw himself head-first into the turf), I can’t wait to see who the dastardly villain will be this time. Baggage guy? Chip-shop attendant?

    • Tommy Brady

      I think you will find Nutta that this tour by the British Lions to NZ will be largely free of spiteful antics and unnecessary controversy. It will be fiercely competitive and an army of traveling media will no doubt scour plenty of incidents looking for a headline. However, the Lions have publicly stated their intention to fully immerse themselves into NZ throughout the tour and rebuild much of the goodwill lost under Woodward’s guidance 12 years ago in 2005. This All Black side know the legacy they have built as a global brand. They’ll have no interest in compromising that with the eye’s of the Rugby world firmly on them. After all, the incidents you refer to now date back over 10 years. There is a reason for the absence of them since.

      The current injury toll is unsettling, but 6 weeks from the 1st test, hardly stuff to get alarmed about. So neither Ben Smith, Israel Dagg or Nehe Milner-Scudder is available to play fullback. Jordie Barrett feels a comfortable replacement. So Kieran Read can’t start at No. 8 so Ardis Savea takes his place. Across the park, they have carefully built depth for this very special series. As rugby fans, there is to look forward to.

      • Dud Roodt

        Wasn’t the security guard from less than a year ago?

        • lee enfield

          That is an alternate fact….

        • Dud Roodt

          Sad!

        • Nutta

          Huge! Great!

      • Fan

        British and Irish Lions

    • McWarren

      I’m not sure who the AIB’s will identify Nutta, but here the B&I Lions are already bitterly split down the middle, between those devastated by Prince Phillips retirement and the Irish lads who aren’t sure who he is. I think the AIB villan will reveal itself after the first test loss, my money is they will blame Cheika, somehow.

    • Alister Smith

      If Bill Pulver is going to be gone from the beginning of next year anyway I wonder if there is some value in getting someone new in now ahead of time – there are some very big decisions coming up and whoever is going to have to follow through on those should have ownership of them from the start. But I think it might be more than just a CEO issue. I am not sure about the rest of the board who made all the appointments and are party to all of the decisions, the Chairman etc. And are we now at a stage where we need to look at the whole structure of how rugby is administered in Australia – it seems every decision leads to infighting and we seem bogged down and uncertain of where we go from here. Other sports have commissions – something that seems to have worked well for AFL but not necessarily as well for the rugby league

      • Nutta

        I agree. I wrote a few years back that what is needed is executive answering to board who are on 4yr terms voted immediately post World Cup with voting done by paid-up club members. >21yrs and paid-up members get a vote and that 20yrs paid-up gets life rights. Exec answers to Board and Board answers to Punters. 1st point of order is to have States move under and centralise all activity through aru. Then we have alignment and clear structure. Then we trim out duplications etc. Then we start to see some centralised direction and benefit.

    • Missing Link

      You’ll know as soon as Owen Farrell runs on

  • paul

    Its taken 20years of short sighted, money grabbing, vested interest, decisions to get to

    “what’s got lost in this entire debate is why we are here.”

    Culling the Force does not address the mindset that got us to NOW.

    • John Tynan

      A loss in TV rights revenue would surely be just as offset by a reduction in op costs – ie business class flights and accommodation – if we didn’t go to The Republic, or am I naive? Keep the national footprint and on shore Wallaby pipeline.

      I have to believe the expansion will pay off, and to do so we need to start developing rugby players, instead of targetting athletes/body shape first then the secondary factor of can they play footy at the required level. I know a good big bloke beats a good small(er) bloke every time, but a good small(er) bloke beats a poor big bloke too.

      My example is would a Damien MacKenzie have any development time invested in him in Australia as he came up through the ranks?

      And by bloke above, I mean player. Apologies to the diverse playing demographic we have these days.

      • Braveheart81

        Damien McKenzie would have made every rep team on his way up wherever he played. It was clear as day that he was an outstanding talent from a young age.

        • John Tynan

          Hypothetical obvs. I just reckon we obsess about the “athlete” before the rugby player.

        • Missing Link

          JOC was a good example of this. An incredible young talent who was made to “bulk up” for the modern game. It’s no surprise he’s now an injury magnet.

        • John Tynan

          Nice example.

        • Fan

          I wonder is he bulked up for the modern game or for poncing about on instagram!

        • onlinesideline

          Disagree strongly as most of his insta shots are above the neck ie his hair – bhahahah – nah hes alright

        • Who?

          Maybe, but would the obsession on player shapes have seen him shifted into scrumhalf in Australia, where his footwork and broken play running would be far less visible..?

    • Fan

      Amen.

      You buy a house in a shit area, selling off your granny flat isn’t going to fix that problem.

      • John Tynan

        Love it. Golf claps.

      • onlinesideline

        Im gonna jot that one down – love it

  • jay-c

    Can anyone provide any insight as to what this resignation might mean for a decision on which team will be cut? I’m guessing he’s resigned because he didn’t want to be party to a decision to cut x team.

    • Ian

      Maybe just had a gut-full of the whole effing mess and wanted to get into something easier, less political and more sensible….like maybe a candidate for Palmer United Party, One Nation or The Greens?

      Must have had an emotional attachment to Brumbies & Rebels, which wouldn’t help when talking to Perth?

    • Andrew Luscombe

      He had a chance to take a job he saw as having a better future, so he took it. He will still be there till the end of June. I don’t believe this will have any obvious impact.

  • SuckerForRed

    I know it is to late now……. but maybe what the ARU should have done was anounce, sorry, make the decision last August & then get all SR sides to justify their existence. Put the 4 teams out to tender.

    • Dud Roodt

      I feel like now there’s obviously been such a stink kicked up they maybe weren’t expecting (how you would think one team would be happy to just wrap it up, I’m not sure), they should say “OK, you’re right, this decision can’t be made solely by us, so we’ll give the Force and the Rebels one more season, whoever comes out on top on the following criteria get’s to stay;

      – wins v losses
      – point differential
      – ticket sale
      – average attendance

      etc etc

      • McWarren

        Nah DR I think it should be a no holes barred, gloves off, all or nothing chook raffle.

        • John Tynan

          “CATTLEDOG!!!”

        • Nutta

          Yeh, but who gets the proceeds of that raffle? I smell a consultants report…

      • Missing Link

        The Force have had 5 more years to establish a base plus the fixtures are screwed up meaning the two teams don’t play exactly the same opposition. Hard to boot a team based on the above criteria.

  • SuckerForRed

    In other good news. Australia has just won the croquet world championship. Take that NZ!

  • Alister Smith

    I am interested in what impact the ARU decision on the team to be dropped from Super Rugby will have on the makeup of the NRC. I would think that if the Force are dropped that the Perth team could really struggle and that would be very disappointing. Melbourne would probably be easier to maintain from that perspective because they are closer to the more traditional player base. I know Melbourne fans will undoubtedly disagree but the more I think about this the more I favour Perth being retained. I imagine Rugby League will look at this very closely and I think they could act pretty quickly to add a Perth team although i think they may have tv rights deals that might prevent that happening before 2022.

    • Woolfe

      Retain them all. Fire the ARU board.

      G&GR had a great article a couple of months ago about re structuring the competition. Issue has been solved for free.

  • Fan

    If I was a betting man I’d say that the only games the B&I Lions will win are the Babas and Maori games.

    NZ have nothing to be nervous about.

    Great test teams are better than the sum of all their parts. Good test teams are as good as the sum of all their parts. Regardless of individual talent it is impossible for the Lions to achieve this in such short time.

    Unless NZ suffer an implosion like the Wallabies did in 2013 they will coast the games.

  • Woolfe

    I wonder what our highly paid and superannuated Minister of Sport thinks about the ARU implosion (NADT). Haven’t heard boo from him/her/person that does not wish to sex identify?

    • Alister Smith

      He etc is possibly waiting possibly waiting for the CEO’s job to come up so they can take it.

  • Charcoal

    Just stick it to SANZAAR and refuse to cut a team. The ball is then in their court.

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@Nick_Wasiliev

Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician, second rower. Still trying to make sense of the 21st century. Dropped a debut novel last year...

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