Oh look ... another vulture circling - Green and Gold Rugby

Oh look … another vulture circling

Oh look … another vulture circling

So, let’s keep this short, sharp and to the point. In writing this I am going to try to remain as neutral as I can be.

We can all read, we all have Google at our disposal and can all make our own judgments. It not hard to take the time to go back and fact check for ourselves, construct a history and piece together a story.

But in reality, even after doing that it we are sometimes left wondering what is the real story that we are reading, what’s it really about?

One way to do this is through some thematic analysis. It is a method of analysing qualitative data. It is usually applied to a set of texts, such as interview transcripts. A researcher closely examines the data to identify common themes – topics, ideas and patterns of meaning that come up repeatedly.

Open the media today and there is yet another story that can added to the long list of stories published that is criticising Rugby Australia and targeted towards its CEO.

448979 nick farr jones


The brilliant article written by Kate Elizabeth (a must read) is dead on target for the majority of supporters. The comments in response to her article not only validate this, but also put an amazing human perspective to it.

Like Kate, the Mst’s have had enough!

But I want to introduce some more elements in the conversation.

For me it is when you start applying some thematic analysis then some time elements that you get a quite an interesting picture. The same types of attacks, the same names and the same demographic seem to appear. But it also coincides with the deterioration of the game here in Australia.

2006 appears to be a launching point. Google found me an article quoting John O’Neill criticising the current board and indicating he need to come back and fix the problems. I am pretty sure I read something similar quite recently. Potentially an indication of a theme?

It’s as you weave through the old articles you will find many names. Some feature quite often. Alan Jones, Papworth, Connolly, Farr-Jones, Kafer, Kearns, Dwyer, Flowers, Horan, just to mention a few.

Last week it was an ex-Wallaby and RA associate. In the last few days similarly another ex-Wallaby and RA associate.  Today yet another. Add in the Rugby powerbroker demographic and the theme is complete.

Kurtley Beale and Rod Kafer

Kurtley Beale and Rod Kafer

Similar reasons, similar criticisms, similar self-serving solutions, similar demographic. Around 15 years is the time frame you can apply to these themes. There also appears to be a correlation to Wallabies performances.

Draw your own conclusions. For the Mst’s it simple. 15 years of relentless attacking the game that either made them who they are now or provided them with a position of power.

It’s been 15 years of this group trying to be make themselves relevant. They are not relevant. Relevant yesterday maybe, but today and in to the future – certainly not.

How do I know this? Right now, there are far more important things happening to so many of us that is affecting our everyday and will change our future. People are hurting, suffering and for the Mst’s  that’s far more important than Rugby right now.

Yes, we miss it. But it’s you, our rugby friends, our family, colleagues and people around us where our focus is right now. Trying to help and support people where we can with the real problems; jobs, your health and just getting by; that is far more important.

I have no time for bunch of out of touch privileged sycophants who are obsessed with picking over the corpse of a sport to seek power and self-gratification when there is a world-wide pandemic happening.

So, to be clear to that cohort; read the room and take the hint. Get away from OUR game! You are not the solution, you are part of the problem.

I will now get off my soap box.

Back to amusing myself by looking at certain journalist social media posts. I love counting the “likes” and retweets about their articles by their colleagues and those on the same payroll or social group compared to genuine readers.  Actually, it’s a bit sad.


  • dru

    Thank you MST’s. 100% with you.

  • Adrian

    Well done MST, and confirming again that everything Kate Elizabeth said was on the money.

  • Who?

    I’m on board, MST’s.
    I actually wish they’d do some analytics of their readership. Odds are, the majority who pile onboard with them are fairweather fans (or Leaguies) who just want to join the pile, rather than people who are educated about the truth of the standing of the game, who have given more than 10 seconds of consideration to the problem, and who want to see the game survive, thrive and prosper.
    If they read the mood in the supporter base this year, they’d have realized that, for the first time in years, there was a positive outlook. They may have spun a positive outlook for years (whilst those they were backing were in power – like Cheika, in spite of his incredible ineptitude), but the game’s been in the doldrums thanks to those who they backed. And now, when there’s a positive atmosphere in the community, they try to destroy it.
    It’s interesting to see Genia calling for peace, saying it’s not the time to get the knives out to stab the game in the back. Good on him.

    • Adrian

      Most Leaguies I know are with us. They aren’t attracted to to “right to rule” entitled twits.
      This is about the politics of the absurd I reckon, and people like Farr Jones and Kearns are trying to position themselves for the future, not position the game.

      • Who?

        I don’t imagine they’re attracted to the ‘right to rule’ mob, but I figure that any outsider who just reads the latest drivel from the Murdoch press would – not having the background information – consider it well reasoned and worthy of support. Especially if they were Bulldogs fans.
        Either way, I just hope that those who have been in control or have had their mates in control (which therefore includes most of our golden era players, given they’re often on the board, RA employees or closely tied to the RA/Fox media service) end up where they belong – revered as players, and ignored as administrators. Being a great player, or even a devotee of the game, doesn’t mean you’ll be a great coach, a great administrator, or even a great person. You hope at least the last one’s true (because one would hope that playing the game helps people develop character), but nothing in this life is certain.
        Hope you’re going well and staying healthy, Adrian. :-)

  • Nutta

    Don’t ever be surprised by the pettiness of the self-interested.

    Are we disappointed? Of course.

    Are we surprised? Nope.

    I’m reminded of a great line in Crocodile Dundee – ‘It’s about as smart as two fleas arguing over the dog they’re sitting on.’

  • Although neither of them are quite direct replies to your point, I’m inexorably reminded of two quotes. One goes

    “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity”

    and the other (much less optimistic) goes

    “All things are subject to interpretation, whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”

    That’s Heinlein and Nietzche respectively if anyone is interested.

    In case it’s not clear, I agree with what you’re saying. I think she’s playing the stupid among us and she’s doing it because, at least in the short term, it puts her in a position of power. I would say the hope has to be that wiser heads prevail but given what we’ve seen from RA over the last years I’m doubting the presence of much wisdom to be honest.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Eloise, I’m not sure who you’re talking about here. Are you saying Raylene Castle is doing this?

      • Ah, no. Read the article again, find the paragraphs that talk about power. I’m talking about the old boys network.

        I’m quite a fan of Castle. I think she’s made a lot of good decisions in a pretty terrible organisation and while she’s arguably made a few bad ones too I think a lot of the biggest of those she inherited rather than doing herself.

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Ok thanks. I think the good she has done far outweighs any bad. I just hope the board see that too

        • Who?

          I’m hoping this is one of those few times the typical, traditional intransigence of the RA Board works in our favour; that they see the threat of replacing Castle as effectively an attempt at a hostile takeover of their own power. Because, whilst the current board’s been very ordinary, there’s hope that they’ll be ineffective in slowing positive progress if it’s made by their CEO. And I can see Castle at least attempting some good things, even if she’s working from a terrible position (i.e. financially, etc).

        • That would be nice. Saved by being bloody minded!

          Although RA are in a deep pit financially.

        • I was in a discussion about this with someone a couple of months ago. I broadly agree with you and I think her hands are largely tied about WA. He was very vehement she should have done more for WA and could have done. So, I’m a bit more equivocal in my support than I used to be, but even with that I think her positives outweigh her negatives considerably.

  • From NooZealand

    Cheers. Where can I find Kate Elizabeth article please? I googled her name, but no joy. Greetings.

    • Joe King
      • From NooZealand

        Excellent. Thank you and I am sure you are looking after yourself and your loved ones which is very good.

        • Joe King

          Yeah, just ridding it out. Cheers.

        • From NooZealand

          Thank you again. Read the article [it’s great] and most of the comments and I like very much what I red.. I just commented on Hoss’.

  • RedsFanDan

    I, for one, would be interested in an article devoted to this “thematic analysis” you speak of.

    This group has done some fantastic analysis in the past, would love to see exactly what you’re talking about.

  • Ad-O

    Criticism comes with the territory. Especially when you’re losing money, most of it as a result of one of the most controversial sackings in the history of Australian sport.
    Add in the rest of the alleged contract mismanagement, and I dont think the pandemic should be a shield from criticism. It’s certainly not for a PM, why should it be for a CEO.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Mate if you think getting rid of a homophobic dickhead who was never as good as he was made out to be is where the money has been lost you really are out of touch. It cost more to stop Di Patterson laying a complaint that would have had some senior players with a police record and that still wasn’t the worst of it

      • Ad-O

        LOL! Love the froth mouthed internet NPCs. If Castle just rapped Izzy over the knuckles the whole thing would have blown over in a week. It was her choice to cost RA millions of dollars. Homophobia or not.
        And this revisionism of how good Izzy was is asinine. Sure hes not the greatest player in the world, but he was the greatest player on that Wallaby team. Just ask the other Wallabies. We would have won that pool game against Wales with him in the team. And to be honest, I’m much more interested in how the Wallabies perform on the pitch than what the online social justice nazis think.

    • Who?

      The sacking, it may not have been as controversial as some think. It seems that the ‘mainstream’ opinion was that RA was in the right (it’s just questionable whether they were right in law, something we’ll never know after the genuinely ‘win-win’ outcome Castle negotiated). Regardless, it’s rather questionable whether that loss was 50% a result of that controversy. Whilst some trumpeted a payout of $8M, others claimed closer to a ‘mere’ $3m, a figure well below what the RA board had authorised.
      Where’s the contract mismanagement? If it’s Larkham, that’s on Pulver.
      As it stands, Castle’s appointed one coach, re-signed players at the behest of the previous coach (if the scale of Hooper’s contract is an issue), has complied with legal requirements in running an open tender for the TV Rights (and done the right thing – seriously, who thinks accepting Fox’s offer of cutting roughly 60% of the value of the rights is acceptable? A contraction – due to falling broadcast media revenue rates and reduced content – was always going to happen, but that scale? Not conceding to the bully boys at Fox was the right call), has recreated the high performance infrastructure required to compete at the highest levels, and has overseen success at age group levels borne of those systems improvements. She was shackled by the previously appointed coach (couldn’t afford to get rid of him, couldn’t find a successor in the tiny window open at the end of 2018), and was shackled by the interfering moron who was Chair.
      Meanwhile, the guys who are whinging are blokes who’ve demonstrated no vision for the game outside their own tweed elbow patch clubs and schools. Whose mates have been on the take from RA, making money whilst delivering nothing of value.
      There’s definite issues with RA, Castle may turn out to be one. But, at this point, there’s plenty of greater problems which should be fixed, including the problem of the people who are espoused as solving the ‘Castle problem’. They’re a far greater danger.

      • Ad-O

        He raised over $2M outta the public. Fair to say he had his corner of support

      • Ad-O

        I’m not really making a call on the success or otherwise of Raelene’s tenure. I’m just saying that’s shes not beyond criticism and she shouldn’t be protected from such by the pandemic. It may well be the case that her most high profile detractors have an ulterior motive, but that doesnt mean they’re not allowed to ask questions. All people in power should be questioned, all the time. Especially during a crisis.

        • Who?

          The question is, what’s the cause of the crisis? Is it a crisis created by the decisions of the CEO? Hardly. If there’s a crisis, it’s one borne of circumstances beyond anyone’s control, and one faced by all codes.
          The questioning, however, is extraordinarily unreasonable. It’s from people who’ve done nothing but sought to undermine the current CEO from day one. People whose motives are unreasonable. People who, in many cases, have either actively contributed to the problems, supporters of the creators of the problems, or have been the beneficiaries of the problems. If the questions being raised were objective, dispassionate and well reasoned, it’d be an entirely different matter altogether. But they’re not.

        • Ad-O

          Dont get me wrong, if Phil Kearns is the answer then the question is retarded. Still, Raelene is the CEO and handling a little heat is why shes at that pay grade.
          Whatever you think Rugby’s problems are, the CEO of RA is a pretty good place to look for answers. I get it many people like her, I just think if your feeling sorry for her you’re getting played a little. It might be a useful tool politically, but people who get to that position are big boys and girls.
          And just to be clear, I’ve heard nothing from Farr Jones that gives me any confidence he has the answer either.

        • Who?

          I absolutely don’t feel sorry for Castle. I just don’t think we’ve seen her in free air yet, and I’m not convinced her decisions – where they’ve clearly been her own decisions – have been terrible. Where she’s been wedged, I don’t think she’s been perfect, but I think she’s been pragmatic, which is more than can be said for many in the Rugby community.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Pure gold Ad-o.
          “If Phil Kearns is the answer then the question is retarded”. Am cleaning up cereal sprayed all over the kitchen bench.

        • Patrick

          No not at all especially during a crisis. Wtf does Australian rugby gain from focusing on Castle now except to make a difficult job even harder? If the crisis was anything to do with her, then I might think differntly, but it isn’t.

    • Who?

      EDIT: Removed.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks MST, another great article and I can see why your analysis is so good.
    I must admit I’m not surprised at all with the selfish, self promotional bullshit these idiots put out. I haven’t had a lot of respect for many of these so called “legends of the game” for a number of years and I see them as a bunch mysogynistic arseholes who are not interested in the game anywhere as much as they are interested in themselves. They are using their names, past glories and sycophantic mates to promote them as saviors when in reality they are part of the reason the game has fallen so far so quickly.
    I’m resigned to having them on board for the near future as the system doesn’t seem to allow them to be voted out. Maybe when the Wallabies regularly lose to other Tier 2 teams they might wake up but I doubt it, it’s all about pushing the blame onto someone else.

  • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

    If the rumours of RA going into administration imminently are true and, that if Castle is sacked, Rennie will follow her out, then Rugby in Aus is fucked.
    Irregardless of what the inner rectum think, Rennie was and is the best coach available for the Wallabies. There is no homegrown option that is even close.
    If Rennie goes whoever takes over RA might as well lease the HQ to google or apple, because the Wallabies will descend into minnowland.

    Rugby in Aus is run, controlled and infected by fuckwits.

    • Hoss

      As Paul McLean almost said mate ‘rugby is a code with nefarious types always on the fringes’

      One thing I would say is how the RFU and Six Nations sycophamts are feeling about dissing the ‘Nations League’ concept – wasn’t it $12 billion over 5 years. There was rugby’s vaccine right there………

      • Mortahs Incoming – custardtaht

        Yep, narrow minded idjits. Especially after the head of the RFU has publicly said there will be greater co-operation post Corona Virus.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I heard that today. That would be a catastrophe for rugby here. As you say there is no one. Maybe Kearns can put his hand up for that job

  • Ads

    Well it seems I disagree with everyone here, or others don’t want to comment for fear of getting smashed. A valid concern. I’ve started writing this twice for that reason. But well – Corona. I grew up in the inner-west before I get accused of being a Mosman sycophant.

    My opinion has nothing to do with genitals. I just think Castle has been shit.

    I think she created the Izzy situation, by saying RA was a “yes” organisation. She seriously misread that one. A sport dominated by private schools and Pacific Islanders is likely to be conservative by nature. This forced the tweet issue IMO. Then she mishandled the Izzy tweet-gate for the worst options both times – sacking him, then settling. 0/3

    Stuffed up the Cheika and Larkham contracts. Added more cost by putting in Scott J in a weird role we can’t afford and/or don’t need to fix previous stuff-up. 0/6

    And played hardball re Foxtel from a position of weakness. Dumb. Yes she couldn’t have foreseen Corona, but anything could have gone wrong with her crap plan, as has turned out to be. 0/7

    She hasn’t really developed or built any bridges with WA I have seen, and hasn’t leveraged any of Twiggys cash. She has done stuff all in the development areas of Western Sydney etc. 0/10

    I think as CEO most of the criticism she has got has been well earned. All with a 75% success rating. Mind boggling. I personally look forward to her sacking, or contract non-renewal.

    Yes many of those problems existed before (and will after her) but I don’t see her having done much to fix anything, has made the balance sheet look substantially worse directly by her actions, and unlike her predecessors is probably trading whilst insolvent. It’s not an easy job, but I’m not paid $800k either. Bye bye!

    Oh and if Rennie pulls the pin due to Castle getting sacked we don’t want him. I think he is the best available option, but it’s not his place to comment on that. Poor form. If he walks, get Scott J to earn his keep and coach.

    • Who?

      So, could you clarify a bit..? Because, as I see it…
      1. RA was a ‘Yes’ organisation before she arrived. The plebiscite happened during Pulver’s time, and RA was a ‘Yes’ organisation well before that. So pinning that on Castle is inaccurate.
      2. Reading on here, I’m rather surprised at how far from conservative most of the commentary is..? Because my expectations would previously have matched yours.
      3. The settlement was a win, everything before it, given none of those actions stopped the debacle, is debatable at best. But it seems pretty clear that the decisions were made under very clear pressure, both financial and political, be it expressed or implied.
      4. Cheika contract? She didn’t sign him. She didn’t sack him, but at least she explored it. Cheika was rubbish in 2016 and got a 4 year extension…
      5. Larkham contract? Again, she didn’t sign him.
      6. Adding Johnson? A move for the future. Sure, we can’t afford him, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need him. We also couldn’t afford Kafer, but for some reason Pulver hired him.
      7. Hardball with Fox? So she should’ve accepted a 60+% cut in income in a closed rights process? Bearing in mind Harold Mitchell’s been prosecuted for not holding an open rights process for Tennis Australia? Also bearing in mind there are regular readers and commenters on here who think that accepting a single dollar less in rights would be a sackable offence (in spite of the massive downturn in broadcasters’ revenues)..? She did what was legally required, and, ultimately, it was a no win situation. But she gave herself the best possible chance for success. Because a $20M p.a. deal with Fox would definitely have been a failure.
      8/9. No bridges with WA? Not leveraging Twiggy’s cash? Worth noting that Twiggy was optimistic about her, but Clyne’s been hanging around like the abhorrent stench he is, and no one in RugbyWA nor Twiggy trust him as far as they could spit him. Rightly so. Clyne’s only been out of the picture for what, a month? Hard to do much in a month.
      10. Western Sydney – again, clear air, no money, and, ultimately, developing the game is the responsibility of the local unions, then the sub-union. If someone should be funding it, it’s the NSWRU.
      11. 75% success rating. I mentioned, it depends on how you measure success. If it’s purely Wallabies, then 40%’s generous. If you consider the improvements in internal structures and results in other areas (like Schoolboys and U20’s), then perhaps it’s arguable. It’s pretty clear that, after finding no workable solution to the Cheika problem in late 2018, Castle had resigned herself to waiting out the end of the RWC to clean through the Wallabies.
      12. Trading whilst insolvent? This is a really interesting question, we haven’t seen anything clear either way. But now that it’s been raised, I’m sure ASIC will be investigating it.
      If I’m Rennie and the CEO who appointed me is sacked before I coach a game, maybe I don’t quit, but I certainly explore options, to ensure my continued employment. It doesn’t inspire confidence in an organisation. What guarantee does he have that any incoming person – especially given the one floated by the conspirators isn’t one who inspires confidence – would give him the same conditions under which he took the job? I’m not saying he’s got a free pass, but I’d imagine he’s signed expecting a specific working relationship, and there’s no guarantee that will remain the case. So he’d be foolish not to look for assurances inside the organisation and not to look at alternative escape options.
      Asking Scott Johnson to coach is a stupid idea. It’s like making Lord Laurie head coach. Both are excellent in their roles, but their best role isn’t head coach. Johnson’s best work was done in Scotland putting in place high performance pathways. Which have been sorely lacking here. I know we (supposedly) had more money after 2003, but it’s not like the same demands were made of Pat Howard or our previous High Performance Managers.
      I’m happy to debate points – I’m happy for people to hold different positions. But to put out a list that, for the largest part, isn’t accurate…
      I don’t think Castle’s been a great success. I don’t think she’s been perfect. But I think she’s been highly constrained by failed appointments around her, until the last six months. Cheika’s gone – we haven’t yet seen Castle’s appointment coach the Wallabies. A big part of why JON was considered a success was Macqueen. Clyne’s barely out the door – we’ve never seen such a meddling RA Chair in the professional era. Who was JON’s Chair? And Clyne’s incompetence is well known – as has been widely pointed out on here, you don’t end up in front of Senate investigative committees in two consecutive jobs due to high levels of competence.

      • AllyOz

        I will have a go.

        1. Castle wasn’t there for the Yes but I think her initial response after the first tweet was correct. Israel has a right to his view but RA as an organisation don’t share it. Those were her first pubilc comments and as far as she needed to go – just repeat it again. But if she didn’t want more she should have specifically required something different in his contract and if he wasn’t prepared to agree and not issue a contract. She has then though decided to pursue legal action and there has been a cost associated with that decision. So she is responsible for all the remainder that happened after she began in the role.
        2. Criticism of Castle is no different to criticism of Greenberg.
        3. The settlement wasn’t a win. It was, at best, a draw. Both parties apologised and Folau had the remainder of his contract paid out. If RA had taken the case further and been awarded the decision and costs that would have been a win.
        4. Don’t personally put this one on her myself as some reports say it was the boards decision to retain him against her wishes. I supported the retention of Cheika in any case so I can’t really argue against it. It didn’t work though so I was wrong, along with the board, and she was probably right.
        5. No she didn’t sign him but she is then responsible for the administration of the contract. The articles didn’t apportion blame to her for that in any case, it was her aggressive pursuit of him afterwards to try and make him give up a contracted right that the article questioned. Again this is similar to the Folau contract – trying to enforce a provision in a contract that isn’t there. It is also, according to some of the previous articles around Canterbury, similar to things you see coming out of there.
        6. Johnson’s appointment could be viewed as her simply looking to put another layer between her and an employee she can’t/isn’t prepared to work with. I have seen it in companies before and it can be a sign of someone who isn’t prepared to deal with whats in front of them. It is certainly an expensive way to operate to think that the way to deal with a problematic employee is to stick another one in between you. It has just happened in the company I work with in fact….and I think it’s dumb. I personally think, given Cheika’s approach etc that we would have been better to give him the coaching staff he required and if he failed, as he inevitably did, then pick up the pieces after that. He probably never should have had carte blanche but once it was given then live with it. It certainly didn’t improve our position in the short term or for the World Cup.
        7. You have raised this as an issue before but I haven’t seen it raised in the press or by other commentators. I am not doubting it’s accuracy but, from the way I understand it, Fox have an option in their contract to allow them to make an offer prior to the thing going to tender. If you want to play hardball though then make sure you have something to play with. It appeared someone has overestimated the potential interest in the game because no one came forward during the tender process, some of those touted didn’t even register to participate, and the tender process had to be extended by a week. So it might have been brave and bold but, if RA failed to read the level of interest, it migh have just been stupid.
        8/9. Initial vibes looked good. Nothing was done. No progress was made. Although RA did invite WA back in to a possible domestic comp so that was one thing. But it hasn’t happened either so again, nothing done.
        10. RA attracts all the funding, they have control over the revenues and payments to member unions so they have responsibility for development. They could have made specific funding available if they wished or thought it was a big thing. Instead they take subs off community rugby to support their own palarous financial position (not on Castle’s watch).
        11. It’s not just the performance of the Wallabies, performance of Super Teams, crowd numbers, coaching and development structures, relationship with club and community rugby, over financial position, inability to post audited financials by the AGM. Now a lot of those issues are ongoing – been getting worse for 15-20 years but I have seen no strategy to improve it in the last 5 under either of the last two CEOs
        12. I addressed it in my comments above. If we are broke it will go into administration and that is dire and its the end of the board and the CEO I would imagine. Warren Buffet is quoted as saying “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who has been swimming naked.” It’s possible RA thought they could get away with a quick skinny dip and the tide would soon be back in with an Irish tour, a new TV deal, leading into a Lions tour and the 2027 World Cup. But the tides a lot bigger than what they have expected and they are fully exposed. A big part of me thinks the delays with the players negotiations are as much RA’s decision than the players and that, unless there is someone prepared to step in we are buggered.

        Hopefully it’s an opportunity to remake the game from the ground up though.

        I personally am impressed when I hear blokes like Farr-Jones speak. He doesn’t have all the answers but he does understand a lot of the problems better than a lot of others.

        I don’t think the re-structure under the Arbib provided us with the correct model. I don’t think it has given us what we need to bring some of the competing bases for the game together.

        Again I don’t hold Castle responsible for all of this but I would just let her contract run it’s course and then give someone else a go. I don’t see the show improving at the moment and I think it needs real reform and someone with a background in rugby who has an understanding of all those competing elements but who is strong enough to rise above that and be prepared to take on not just these vested interests but their own potential vested interest to really make change. I don’t think an outsider will be able to do it. I used to but I don’t any longer.

        I also think someone like Graeme Samuels who has experience with ACCC, AFL and NRL might be a good Chairman. He would certainly be a good person to lead an investigation into the structural change required to get the game back on its feet.

        • Who?

          Always good to have an open debate, Ally. :-)
          1. I agree, her response after the first tweet was a good one. In terms of issuing Folau with a new contract, she wasn’t six months into the job and was trying to provide her coach with the tools he needed to do his job effectively (which also goes to offering Hooper his contract). Not getting the detail right in terms of extra clauses, there’s definitely an argument she should’ve done better there, but there’s also the consideration that RUPA’s EBA effectively blocked that. Did she do an outstanding job? No. But would others have done better, especially given the timing, and the general incompetence around the organisation? I’m not confident.
          2. I don’t disagree that criticism of Castle and Greenberg is not dissimilar. I do think there’s likely a little more spite shown to Castle, which is odd. Both (as others have pointed out) are ex-Canterbury Bulldogs, both have issues from their time there. But comparing the constituencies (Rugby claiming to be more civil), I don’t see anyone talking about Greenberg’s appearance.
          That said, my point 2 was more about Ad-O’s comment about Rugby coming from a conservative background, being elitist schools and the like, and the surprise I have at how seemingly liberal the majority of the commenters can be. It seems the assumption that attending an elite school will turn you into a Tory is inaccurate.
          3. I think that going to court – even if RA had won (no certain thing) – would still have been something of a loss. Because it would’ve dominated talk through the RWC and the start of this Super season. The only reason we’re talking about it him is because of Covid 19 making RA’s dire financial position untenable.
          Given RA stated that Folau didn’t tolerate discrimination and didn’t intend to vilify anyone, that’s a win for him. Given RA’s board had reportedly given Castle room to pay much more than she did, that’s a win to her. You could call it a draw, but I don’t think either party is particularly unhappy with the outcome, and a draw usually implies unacceptable compromises.
          5. I do understand where you’re coming from with this one. It’s one where it could easily be argued she didn’t act well. But when you’re set up with such impediments, you can understand her trying to appeal to someone’s better angels, and resorting to trying to shame them into helping out. I get that Bernie had expenses, we all do, but when you’re paying a bloke to do nothing, after he’s lived on your cashflow and made a fortune for 25 years, and contributed to bringing the game to a point of ruin… I see the frustration. I don’t mark it as near her finest hour, but I get it.
          6. That’d be a viewpoint that would hold more water if the appointment of Johnson didn’t also look to the future in terms of coaching appointments and long term strategic planning.
          Part of the issue with Cheika, too, is that ‘giving him the coaching support he needed’ still happened, to an extent. Maybe not what he needed, but certainly what he wanted. And there’s no guarantee he’d have accepted the support he needed – look at his relationship with Bernie.
          7. I saw it raised by Wayne Smith and by Brett McKay. Beyond that, it’s certainly something many of us fans who don’t live in those rare circles have long wished to see.
          8/9. I still hold Clyne responsible for the failure to interact meaningfully. Because he was still in power early this year. I hope we see change with him gone, only time will tell. This is yet another point where she may well come up with a zero, but for now, I think it’s benefit of the doubt.
          It’s like when a new coach comes in and tries to maintain the old coaching style with the old players, even though they don’t understand it. They may actually be a decent coach, but you haven’t seen them operating yet.
          10. It’s fair to point out the revenue all heads through RA (given even local subs are now paid online only through them, clubs aren’t even permitted to hold ‘real’ traditional sign on days and take cash – a real bug bear of mine, I’ve seen the problems it causes, but no one in power cares). But it’s not like they had an extra revenue to say, “We’ll give you this if you put on 10 new DO’s in Western Sydney.” Not in the last few years. And, given all the complaining from SS people – the same people still trying to get rid of her – about not funding the SS, do you think it would’ve been even remotely possible for Castle to do it..?
          11. I guess the success of Shute Shield (which we read about so much on here) would also contribute to that 75% success rate. I agree – we haven’t seen any strategic planning meaningfully implemented for years. But neither do I think that last year was a complete failure. I saw it as moving pieces into place behind the scenes of a losing RWC campaign to launch into the new year positively, and I think we saw that.
          12. I agree, it doesn’t look great. If we were trading whilst insolvent, there’s huge penalties that will apply. And that may be what takes Castle (and the board). It’d be rough for Castle, given she didn’t put the game into the position of insolvency (it took years of cooperation to do that, including from those now seeking to undermine her), but she ultimately would be the one with her name on the documents.
          I’d love to see the board completely replaced. I completely agree the Arbib constitution has been a disaster (what’s new for that fellow).
          I’m not opposed to replacing Castle at the end of her tenure, but I don’t think we’re at an easy place to judge her tenure yet. It’s like looking at Cheika at the end of 2015 and deciding he’s the best coach in the world. Or Deans at the end of the 2008 3N’s and thinking we’re gonna get flogged every time we play SA (given we’d just lost 8-53 on the Veldt, but not knowing Deans would ultimately have an excellent record against SA).
          I’m not saying Castle’s great, I’m only saying that she’s done some positive things, she’s in a rough spot, and I don’t think we’ve really seen the results of her work yet. In the same way that people were quick to complain about Pulver (my issues with him only came after he caved to Clyne over the Force), I was happy to wait a bit. Decisions from a CEO don’t have immediate results. He was the one who put forward the NRC. It wasn’t well handled by all regions, but, overall, it’s been a great decision (because we’ve seen a lot of talent come through it more developed than they would otherwise have been). He put great focus on women’s 7’s, and we saw a Gold medal. That took 3 years – only 3 years, which is short by the standard of development time frames, but still, 3 years is a long time compared to a CEO’s term. Meanwhile, Castle’s been CEO for 27 months. In that time, she’s had Clyne, Cheika, the Folau sagas, no money, rubbish Super Rugby performances… But she’s set up the Schoolboys and U20’s for success, she’s brought back a system to develop coaches (properly, unlike whatever malarkey Kafe was running before she arrived). It’s hard to judge her on current performance, and we won’t truly know her legacy until well after she’s gone. Everyone thought JON was great in 2001, but looking back, his legacy may be considered patchy..?
          I’m not certain that someone with experience in local rugby is a great choice for anything going forward. If it were Rugby experience that were most desired, it’d be interesting to try and poach someone from the NH. Because everyone here’s got too much history, even Kiwis have some of that. I understand your concern with having someone outside not able to pull people together, but I think at some point you’ve got to get in someone who’ll force people to comply. We don’t have a ‘Mandela’ type leader off the field – we don’t have a single person most will follow, and the rest will respectfully tolerate, and who will – against his or her own self interest – protect those who don’t necessarily support the leader.

        • AllyOz

          The facts are the same (though we don’t really know all of them) but there are a million different ways to interpret them. I am not hugely anti-Castle but I just don’t think she will be able to get it where it needs to be. I don’t think Greenberg or David Gallop or the former AFL CEO would either. I now think (and its a 180 degree reversal) that it needs a good administrator but one with an in depth knowledge of all of the aspects of the game of rugby in this country. But someone who is prepared to break away from or perhaps better drag along all those vested interests.

          As we agree, the Arbib structure hasn’t proven to be something that allows the game to progress or expand or even maintain its place. There are so many different conflicting elements in the game that all seem to pull it in different ways. I have been part of those at times. Country rugby, Brisbane Club rugby, Brisbane Sub Districts and the GPS schools programme. All with different agendas and I must say, all with a lot of very good people. But all focussed (as I was when I was in it) on our own little patches.

          What I don’t really agree with here is the view on the likes of Kearns, Farr-Jones, Poidevin, Horan (who doesn’t want a change of CEO) etc. I have met Kearns at a presentation night but beyond that have no knowledge of any of them. However, I doubt that they are as they are portrayed here. I think a lot of what they say is based on a genuine desire to improve the state of rugby in the country because they love the game.

          I actually think that this presents a great opportunity to as Gregan put it (though I think he and I would differ about the desired result) to break the wheel. To develop a structure around all aspects of the game. And works to one common purpose. And for me that common purpose is not simply a winning Wallabies team. It is a growth in participation in all levels of rugby and growing the game from the bottom up.

          There is a great interview with Farr Jones on another fan driven rugby site at the moment. I don’t fully agree with all he says but I was very impressed by him overall. One of the things that impressed me was that he didn’t pretend that he had answers to all the questions, he showed a degree of humility that surprised me actually. But he is one of the voices on the outside at the moment (though a lot more measured and focussed on the facts then some of the others at the moment).

          I think they are like us. They want the game to be better.

        • Who?

          We definitely agree on a lot here. I’ve not been massively pro-Castle, I’m just not opposed to her. Because, until the middle of last year, I couldn’t see what she’d done (as opposed to continuing the status quo). Though now, I can’t see what she’s done that’s clearly her own making and terrible. There’s things I think she could’ve done better, things she could’ve done worse. But I don’t see the people that are howling for her removal in the media to be people with clean hands and no ulterior motives.
          I do think, like you, that many of those howling in the media do ultimately want what they think is best for the game. I just have little faith from looking at their connections or past actions that they’ve any clue as to how to achieve those improvements. Because I agree – everyone wants what’s best for the game, but they only see their own little patch. Be it country rugby, city clubs, schools, etc. I’ve done time on sub-union committees – it usually felt like I was the only one in the room who’d left their club colours at the door. I’d argue for things that were fundamentally benefitting other clubs over mine, but would rarely see any other representative even countenance a concept that wouldn’t actively benefit their club.
          So finding someone from our local, Rugby tradition of only being capable of focusing on the places we know would be all but guaranteed to result in a continuation of failure to grow the game.
          The irony about this is that I’ve spent much of the past four years arguing for revolution. If I were confident that we’d get good outcomes, I’d be completely onboard. But the problem is, I keep hearing Roger Daltrey’s voice in my head. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”
          And all at a time when everything’s on its knees financially. The only positive anyone can find in this situation is that no one actively involved in all this (that we know of) is seriously unwell with Covid 19.

    • AllyOz

      I tend to agree with you Ads and made some clarifying points on Kate Elizabeth’s article which, though I thought was well written, I didn’t particularly agree with.

      Firstly, there is some claiming that the move (if there is in fact a concrete move rather than conjecture or wishful thinking by those speculating/calling for it) has elements of sexism. Secondly, there are claims that these developments are unique to rugby – “only in rugby do you see this sort of infighting when we should all be pulling together”. Both accusations are false. Todd Greenberg at the NRL is under an equal amount of pressure if you read the Nine/Fairfax papers. There are a number of suggested replacements being put forward including Phil Gould and Wayne Bennett. Greenberg has a jewish background but no-one is suggesting the criticism of him is anti-semetic. It is simply that those criticising him are suggesting he has made a number of errors both before the virus and after.

      In terms of Raelene Castle, I would probably adopt a similar position to you on at least 6 or the 7 issues you have identified. I think your points around the Folau issue are particularly pertinent. It was RA’s decision to support the yes case that prompted Folau’s first comments on social media – he had made no comments before that I am aware of but he saw a need, as I personally would have also in the same position, to make people aware that he felt/believed differently. Allowing/encouraging people of all backgrounds etc to play the game does not mean supporting a particular political position and RA, along with all other sports, would have been better off staying out of it all together. The only thing I am unsure of is if in fact it was Pulver who was in the CEO position when that decision was made and Castle was only appointed afterwards.

      I am not sure about the broadcast agreement but it certainly appears that someone has perhaps over estimated the potential interest from other parties. As I understand it, NO ONE, put forward a tender during the original tender process – RA had to extend it by another week and then we had the issues around coronavirus. RA’s decision to tender and the success of that tender was already being questioned before the coronavirus shutdown.

      RA’s financial reporting year is to 31 Dec 2019. It then meets at the of March. It has reported a provisional loss of $9.4 M but is unable to provide audited figures 3 months after the end of the financial year. There is a question as to whether RA is trading insolvent. Farr Jones is no friend of RA but that doesn’t mean the points he has raised aren’t important or don’t need to be addressed.

      It seems, if not likely then at least possible, that RA could be placed in administration so all this speculation about a sacking etc might be irrelevant anyway. I don’t personally think Castle should be sacked but I am not sure that, beyond the end of her contract at the end of this year, that she is the right person to take the game forward. Unless there was, in fact, some financial issues and RA is not a going concern. So I would personally like to see job opened up to applicants and if Castle wants to apply for her job she can.

      However, in the future, we need to completely re-evaluate the way the game is structured and administered in this country. Clearly it is not working financially, there are many disaffected parties within the rugby family. This isn’t Castles issue alone – it has been this way for 15-20 years but, at this point, I can’t see that she is the one to turn it around.

      Oh and calling people old boys and insinuating they are making a power grab. Well that is one interpretation. There is another and that is that people who have put their whole lives into this game, have represented their country or coached or administered their clubs in a voluntary capacity are sick of seeing the game lose traction and they are prepared to put their hands up to help save it.

      • Ad-O

        For what it’s worth, I didn’t particularly agree with the Elizabeth article either. Harrison isn’t paid to make people feel good, he’s paid to represent his member’s interests. Kind of hard to criticize someone for doing his job.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning GAGR’s well I have been sitting on the side lines too long and have decided to re-join the fray. I have read KAte Elizabeth’s article and read this lovely MST article. I agree with a lot and disagree with a lot of both. But generally i think, and what I have been impressed with here on GAGR’s in the genuine spirit of open and honest debate here.
    No emotional diatribe (yes I am pointing at you ROAR site). Just people who love the game and want to see it return to a state of health.

    I am of the view the lot need to go (Raylene, board and all). As Jack Nicholson as the Joker once said “This town needs an enema!”

    On Raylene- I am neither for her or against her. But as a whole she is on the 50/50 side of good and bad decisions. 50% was not enough success rate for a Wallabies coach, and as a CEO myself, if I was batting 50/50 I would have been assholed by now. SO in the balance I dont think she should be there. Not because she is a woman, not because of her fashion choices, not because of any other thing than we need a hard hitter, and she is proving not to be it.

    On Phil Kearns – I agree with Ad-O. “If the Answer is Phil Kearns, the question is retarded” Ad-O tip of the hat to you. that is up there with a Hoss quote.

    On the players and their self interst, I am not surprised. You look at how self interested the Wallabies players have been for years. A culture instilled in them since the putsch of Link, and grown worse since then under the encouragement of Cheika “The Ass Clown” (and yes it is time to bring that one back out). In the horse race of life I back self interst everytime. So we shouldnt have been surprised, but dissapointed we are, and should be.

    On the Covid issue. No one could see this coming, and no one would could predict the overall effect that it has had. But the difference between the strong and week, not just health wise but busness wise, is those that had fat or a rainy day stash will weather the storm better. RA had very little. And so struggle it will.
    If it, RA, was trading insolvent, which it may well have done, then they are screwed. That will fall in Raylene’s lap and the boards. Whether she was the maker of the situation or not, it does not matter, as Captain of the ship you will go down with it. But trading in insolvency is a big big no-no. she / they should have known exactly where the organisation stood and reported accordingly. If it was done unknowingly, then that is only just less bad then doing it deliberately. One is deliberate malfeasance, the other is incompetence.

    Again another groucho Marx saying;
    “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”:
    On that basis, anyone that wants the job, shouldnt get it.

    Hand the whole thing to Twiggy. Lets see what he can do with it. Surely it can not be worse than what we have endured for a decade plus!

    Over to you GAGR’s, good to be back!

  • ballymoreburning

    I ask this question in all sincerity, did castle’s actions against Folau really cost RA or the wallabies anything? if the financial settlement of the matter was roughly akin to to value of his contract, isn’t the net loss only the equal to value of his contribution on the field and in the media? and if thats the case, what evidence is there to suggest that a unidimensional talent coached by a unidimensional coach would have delivered a different outcome? Yes, we missed out on the odd freakish display of athleticism, but at what huge cost to the marketing of the game to all Australians (considering 62% had just voted yes)?

    To me, at face value, Castle’s actions saved possibly millions in sponsorships for no meaningful consequence in on field performance, and people who suggest that she mismanaged the situation at the cost of RA are quite deliberately conflating their opinions regarding freedom of speech with a distortion of commercial realities in sport.

    of course, she could have assessed the risk he posed to the game more accurately and not offered Folau a contract the year before the RWC.

    I wonder how many people would have congratulated her for enlightened management in that instance?

    • AllyOz

      The highest try scorer in Super Rugby history is a unidimensional talent … interesting perspective. If you think he is guilty of something then accuse him of that by all means but I am getting a bit sick of this revisionist b*llshit about the bloke’s talent.

  • AllyOz2

    Please note the change of name – Disqus didn’t like me changing my password.

    If anyone is still labouring under the misconception that “only in rugby would we see the game turn on our CEO in this time of crisis” just read below the following below.

    “At Nine we had hoped to work with the NRL on a solution to the issues facing rugby league in 2020, brought on so starkly by COVID-19,” the statement claimed. But this health crisis in our community has highlighted the mismanagement of the code over many years. Nine has invested hundreds of millions in this game over decades and we now find they have profoundly wasted those funds with very little to fall back on to support the clubs, the players and supporters. In the past the NRL have had problems and we’ve bailed them out many times including a $50m loan to support clubs when the last contract was signed. It would now appear that much of that has been squandered by a bloated head office completely ignoring the needs of the clubs, players and supporters.

    So forget the evils of the Murdoch press – all broadcasters want to control the game – it isn’t unique to Fox and it isn’t unique that any of them look to put in place administrators that are part of their cause. This is happening at the same time Phil Gould’s name is being put forward as a potential replacement for Todd Greenberg (an ex Bulldogs CEO). It is, according to Nine Reporter Danny Wielder, directly targeted at Greenberg.

    Perhaps we will swap CEO’s at the end of the year…..

  • AllyOz2

    Interesting article from Peter Fitzsimons here:


    I haven’t read much of his stuff lately because….well I just find his writing style very annoying and his TV appearances even more so. But I used to read everything he wrote and I think the last couple of wrote were very insightful.

    BTW, for all Castle fans, he is a supporter. So i don’t need to put a trigger warning in for you.

  • Andy

    Look at all the names. These guys think the rugby landscape is the same as the 80’s/90’s. Such a pack of entitled turds. And im not even one to defend RA. But the current crop are not the ones who created the shitshow that is RA. They have to be given a chance to fix it.


Brumbies first, then for the love of the game. "It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right." —Moliere

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