From West to East - it's time to move Oz rugby forward - Green and Gold Rugby
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From West to East – it’s time to move Oz rugby forward

From West to East – it’s time to move Oz rugby forward

For those of you who may not be aware – I am a Western Force fan.  What I am about to say may upset other Western Force fans. That’s OK, it won’t be the first time. I believe that it’s time to stop the fighting, it’s time to get back to what important, it’s time to make Australian Rugby Great Again. It’s not going to be easy. It is dependent on some parties agreeing to some things that they may not want to stomach. But it is possible.

To fix Australian Rugby we have to recognise some problems.

  1. The Western Force
  2. Super Rugby is Dying
  3. Recognition of the Indo-Pacific Competition
  4. Make Rugby Affordable
  5. Stop Criticising Rugby

The Western Force

We can get all legal about this – and we have people who have done that for us. I am not a lawyer. I don’t know how to be legal, or gentle. The Western Force were screwed. This was done in daylight hours and without the courtesy of lubrication or a nice meal first. I am saying here and now it’s time to move on. But first the Western Force organisation and its members and fans need their pound of flesh otherwise the court cases and the enquiries are going to continue. That isn’t a threat, it’s a fact. I am not here to negotiate. This will help ease the tension. ARU Chairman Cameron Clyne must resign. A public apology stating that the Western Force were set up to the be team to be kicked out. If he resigns, we can all move on. RugbyWA, Mr. Andrew Forrest and WA Government agree to cease any and all legal proceedings.

160414 Pulver Clyne

Pulver has gone – should Clyne follow?

Super Rugby is Dying

It could be argued that Super Rugby has been in trouble for the last 8 or more years. South African Rugby have had a stranglehold on the administration of Super Rugby and Australia and New Zealand have had to nod their collective heads and go along with everything that comes out of Cape Town. I believe that in 3 years’ time all South African teams will move to Europe never to be seen again. If Australian Rugby do not prepare for this eventuality now, we are going to have 4 Super Rugby Franchises with nothing to do. Fortunately, Mr. Andrew Forrest has provided the answer.

Michael Hooper spins through.

Where have the crowds gone?.

Recognition of the Indo-Pacific Rugby Competition

The Australian Rugby Union must recognise Mr. Forrest’s Indo-Pacific Competition as a legitimate pathway to Wallabies selection, it must be recognised as a legitimate competition supported by Australian Rugby credentialed referees. This then ensures Western Australian based juniors have a clear pathway to Wallabies selection. The recognition also allows – should the need arise for the other Australian based Super Rugby franchises to have a competition to be a part of when Super Rugby falls apart when South African Rugby Franchises leave Super Rugby for Europe. The Australian Rugby Union must also declare that no player, coach or administrator be penalised in any way for supporting or participating in the Indo-Pacific Competition.

Berrick Barnes and Digby Ioane, Crusaders v Panasonic Wild Knights

Berrick Barnes and Digby Ioane, Crusaders v Panasonic Wild Knights

Make Rugby Affordable

No one is attending Test Match Rugby or Super Rugby anymore. Success is a part of that. It’s easy to justify the costs of Tickets to Rugby when the team is winning. But it is also easy to justify the cost when the tickets are cheaper. Rugby fans are all in. Unlike fans of other sports. Most have an attachment to Club Rugby to Super Rugby and to the Wallabies. They should be rewarded for that. A family that participates in club rugby should be rewarded with discounted tickets to Super Rugby and Test Rugby. The rugby family should be acknowledged for the work that they do and they deserve to be rewarded not exploited. Australian Rugby cannot continue to exploit its own fans to fix the financial problems it has created.

Badger fans Force 2015

We need the kids coming to the games

Stop Criticising Rugby

Some websites and some reporters seem to take an almost perverted pleasure when they can point out the mistake or an incident involving a Rugby player, Club or administrator. We need to embrace all that is good about Rugby, the work that the Rugby Community does in the wider community. The behaviour of Rugby players in comparison to other sporting codes. Rugby League takes great pride in calling themselves the greatest game in the world. They have no reason too – yet they all seem to believe it. Well, Rugby Union is the game they play in heaven. They gave the Millennium Stadium in Wales a roof that opens so God could watch the match too. These are all old sayings – its times that we used them and new ones to promote our game and be proud of our game. If the Rugby Community starts believing more – the general public will get on board as well.

Rugby Union in Australia needs help. We are on the verge of falling off the cliff. We need to say it’s time. The fight is over, we are moving forward. Enough is enough. Rugby Union is a great game – it is just waiting for us to treat it the way it should be treated.

  • Nigel Beavis

    The ARU have to move on and accept that their executive decisions will not be accepted in the west, and allow them to play rugby union in another competition. Kafer when asked about the new indo competition,will the ARU allow players be selected for the Wallabies his reply “NO IDEA !!!!!”

  • mikado

    It’s a great idea but I’m not optimistic about the Forrest Indo-Pacific Competition. The standard of competition is going to be way below Super Rugby standard. And the ARU is surely only going to endorse it if they have some kind of ownership/control.

  • chibimatty

    Twiggy’s competition could work if the product is entertaining, skilful and compelling. I think there is a misconception that Australians must watch only the best in the world to have interest, but that’s been proven untrue with the interest in the A-League, NBL and Shute Shield. People just want to have fun and enjoy themselves, and not break the bank when they do it.

    If rugby had to be only about the best players, then the Japanese university championships would never have gotten crowds of 70,000; nor would Sri Lanka get 20,000 to Bradby Shield high school rugby.

  • mattyjinred

    Shoot me down if you will but here is a revolutionary idea.

    Three tiers of rugby:

    1. Internationals
    2. Super Rugby (re-birthed)
    3. National competitions.

    This is all based on the saffas buggering off to europe where they want to be.

    1. Internationals – lets make it a tri-nations style tournament and run it in March and April – start the year with a bang. Australia, NZ and Argentina. It can be run simultaneously with the six nations but make it a home and away affair.
    2. Super Rugby – 3 pools, 5 teams in each. 5 from NZ, 5 from Oz. Third pool is Sunwolves, Hong Kong Team, Fijian Team, Samoan Team and Tongan Team. Its purely a round robin. Top 4 teams progress with 2 wildcards, being those from the pools least represented in the finals.

    This starts through the second half of the tri-nations series. Imagine a triple header of Randwick vs Manly followed by NSW vs Fiji followed by Australia vs Argentina…

    Key thing here is 30% of gate takings for all games are placed in a pool and then distributed across all franchises – as is all tv revenue. The best way we can weaken the north is by giving islanders a reason to stay south :)

    3, National competitions – NRC/Mitre 10 cup etc. We then steal from the Rugby League and finish with a Club Challenge.

    As for Argentina that is the hard one here. No one wants them and for us there time zone is a killer. Its the one question I cant answer here. Hopefully the America’s professional comp kicks off and they have somewhere to go.

    Oh yes. We finish the new super rugby and move the inbound tests to July. Then we have the same. A double header of Brisbane City vs QLD Country followed by Australia vs England.

    And the NRC then becomes a stand alone piece as we are watching the young ens compete with old heads for the end of year tour.

    • Bakkies

      ‘As for Argentina that is the hard one here. No one wants them and for us there time zone is a killer.’

      SA Rugby do.

      • Alister Smith

        Yes but mattyjinred has dropped SA Rugby from his re-imagined Super Rugby tournament so SA rugby’s opinion wont matter

    • Pearcewreck

      Yep, love your work MJ.
      Agree with what you say.

  • McWarren

    I think you need you need a number six in there:
    6. Change the ARU, it’s governance and its myopic Sydney/Brisbane outlook, or should that be inlook.

    If the ARU/QRU/NSWRU continue to operate in there little inbred circles either rugby will die here or we’ll all be having the same conversations in 3 years.

    We definitely need to stop criticising rugby. And I’d go one step further, we need to start talking it up, standing up for it. We need to have confidence in the quality of our game and our players.

    • Simon Powell

      The original draft of this piece had number 6 in there. But the only way that was ever going to be achievable is if NSW and Queensland Rugby consider there is a problem – and whilst they have all the power. They will never see that problem is something that requires fixing.

      At least numbers 1 thru 5 are possible.

      Although convincing Cameron Clyne to resign is going to be the hardest part. The problem is that the ARU is looking less like a Board and more like a Dictatorship – you can tell its a Dictatorship because its being run by a Dick.

      • McWarren

        I can assure you Simon the Qld rugby public are as pissed off with the way the game is run as anyone. Okay we didn’t lose our team but we may as well have for all bar 3 of the last 15 years. In some respects in the minds of our little cartel of power brokers winning in 2011 just reinforced in their minds that their way is right. Since 2011 we have done nothing but slide backwards and rather than address the drain of talent to other SR teams, os or league they’ve done nothing but blame others and refuse to change.

        And people have noticed. They will need too change or they won’t have a kingdom to rule.

  • dsb

    Well said Simon and mostly agree. Many of us have been saying the same things for some time but we havn’t got the spare 50 Mil to put our money where our mouth is. The only rider to all this is I think your last point should be changing to ceasing negative criticism and to encourage constructive criticism. After all we need to restruture the ARU and get some new positive blood in there that ensures it represents all stakeholders. In the meantime lets get into the regional comp trhat includes the western force. Good article

  • Alister Smith

    When I criticised the makeup of the board Bay35 Pablo has commented in response that there are many other issues around structure that I am missing. Although I don’t fully understand his POV I think he means that we need to look at the whole structure of rugby in this country and completely review how all the pieces fit together. That may involve completely remaking the ARU and many of the bodies that sit underneath it. I personally think we need some changes on the board because I am not confident that those currently there have the necessary skills to run an organisation focussed on sports/entertainment – they are very capable people in their own fields but not necessarily in the areas that rugby needs. Elsewhere I have commented on the make up of the AFL Commission and key differences that I see between their board and the ARU. Another example is Netball Australia. I think Netball Australia’s board might provide a template for rugby’s and also some of those board members may also be useful on our board in driving a new strategic direction. Netball’s recent success may also provide a template for our own re-imagining of rugby in Australia. The details of their successes are outlined in this article

    http://www.adnews.com.au/news/a-success-on-all-fronts-netball-australia-nine-and-suncorp-hand-down-netball-verdict

    They have established a national comp, got free to air coverage that is acheiving pretty solid ratings and are experiencing growth in attendances. It’s everything we need to do – and if we can draw in and give opportunities to others in Asia and the Pacific then even better. Let’s not make the error of looking Twiggy’s gift horse in the mouth a second time. If Cameron Clyne can’t find a way to accomodate Forrest’s passion for rugby development and his generous financial offer then I think he is definitely the wrong bloke for the job.

  • Andrew Luscombe

    I don’t think hardly anyone who writes or says negative things about the ARU or the structure of SR thinks they are criticising rugby. They think they are criticising the ARU or the structure of SR with some small hope the problems will be fixed and rugby will benefit.

    You’re right to say that the amount of negative comment is harming the sport. It’s also right to say that much of the criticism is legitimate. Your article, which is about being positive, even calls for the removal of someone who is at the moment effectively the head of rugby in Australia.

    If the ARU fills its board with sports administrators, and people see some positive things take place, the critisism will abate quickly because people are sick of reading it.

  • Dean Powell

    Rugby families could always become members? My 12 yo daughter and I went to 8xForce games in the stand for $268. Cheap.

  • Bay35Pablo

    So pretty much what I said in my article last week … ? :)

  • Pearcewreck

    Nice article Simon.
    Spot on about Super Rugby, it has been irrelevant for years now.
    Word is, as you say, South Africa will definitely be out of Super Rugby in a few years. Stormers, Sharks and Bulls all want to join Europe too. Long term this will be a complete disaster for them.
    It is the complete opposite of what they need to do.
    They, like us, have never had a national club competition.
    It is what they need, and what we need.

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