First off, rumors started circulating that Chris Latham, one of the only 2 wallabies that would have made a World Cup 15, has signed with Worcester in the UK for the northern hemisphere 08/09. This means he’ll play the S14 season, with the Bledisloe game in Brisbane being his last test.
In a nut shell, all Latham wanted was the same package he got last year to stay in Australia. The ARU, no doubt spooked by the 32 year old’s knee injury last year, decided to offer that money, but only in a pay per game basis.
“Had I been offered the same amount of money that I was on this year for the next few years (by the ARU), I would have definitely stayed,” said Latham, a veteran of 78 Tests.
“So it has been pretty disappointing in that instance that I couldn’t come to that agreement here.
“The (ARU) offer was incentive-based and I really didn’t think given my position that I needed incentives to play rugby – I never have.”
“They (ARU) obviously thought that I wouldn’t be able to carry through for too many more years, and that’s the line that they’ve taken,” he said.
While you can see the ARU angle on this: at 32 will Latham make it to 2011; probably not. And if not, shouldn’t we be making space for someone else? On the other hand it looks pretty cold and a little short sighted. Without Latham and Mortlock, there is currently no Aussie back-line. How happy will we be in 2009 about this?
You almost had to laugh about the way Pat Howard dressed up the ‘favour’ they’d done Latho by forcing him out:
“Chris has been an outstanding contributor to the game in this country for a long time. It is for that reason the ARU has agreed to an early release.”
How big hearted.
But if the ARU aren’t on your shit-list for messing with St Latho, you can’t help being pissed off by their canning of the ARC. The fledgling comp was loved by players and fans as giving a chance for seeing a decent grade of national feeder talent for S14, level of rugby that both SA and NZ have, but not Australia.
Obviously the financial loss of the competition’s first year (A$4.7m) wouldn’t be sustainable in the long term. But it seems crazy once you’ve invested in the structure, set-up and brand building to flush it all down the toilet. You could even reorganise it radically, but by shelving it you make creating such a comp in the future pretty much impossible; cynicism from clubs and media will be even higher than this time around. Fans and sponsors will also be pretty wary of investing, having been burnt once already. Another short term decision?
Finally, just when you thought the ARU were making some questionable decisions comes news from up here in pommyland that Brian Ashton, the incumbent team doormat, I mean coach, is having his contract re-newed for another year. The logic being that they got to the final, so no problems there!
I don’t think any living being in England wasn’t painfully aware of how wrong his tenure went throughout the world cup due to Lawrence Dallaglio’s well (over) publicised book. Ashton stopped having any control over the team once they got but-raped by South Africa 38-0 in the group stage – effectively his last game in charge. It seems the ERFU’s state of denial is almost as deep as a the Kiwi’s.