The Republic of Nutta: my fixes for Aussie rugby
Club Rugby

The Republic of Nutta: my fixes for Aussie rugby

The Republic of Nutta: my fixes for Aussie rugby

Matt Rowley wrote an interesting piece on the state of Aussie rugby recently. I largely agreed with him. I started typing a reply. But on reviewing before posting I realized it was a mess of my various whinges about all sorts of things. So in-line with my new year’s resolution to be more positive I thought to start by not complaining but by suggesting alternatives. I thought I would throw up some ideas on what I will do to fix rugby in Australia when it finally becomes “The Republic of Nutta” (the revolution is coming…).

So I hereby put forward my four point plan on how to make Rugby the powerhouse it should be in Australia. Each point relies on the others. This has taken an unbelievably taxing 2hrs to compile whilst doing end-of-month expenses so I’m sure I’ve covered all bases.

1. Have an open and proud goal we all can believe in and take our bearings from.

Effort without a goal is a waste of energy. A clear goal provides focus and direction when confronted with competing issues. In my opinion our goal must be for Rugby to be the biggest sport in the country. I would not be happy until that was achieved (and then I would look for a new goal…). Does anyone know what the ARU’s goal is? I don’t…

2. Participation.

We must recognise that the primary measure to be pursued, that from which all other things come, is participation. Everything else is a by-product of having numbers involved in the game. Numbers means players which generate a playing pool to select from without having to rely on a chosen petulant few. Numbers means a competitive playing pool that is self-motivating and self-renewing which then increases the probability of consistent success.

Numbers means non-playing participants who administer the grass-roots, ref the games, run the raffles and drive the busses that makes it all run. Numbers means audience which generates sponsors to bring money. Numbers generate more numbers and creates momentum. Momentum, numbers and sponsors means coverage and awareness increases and this in-turn brings more of each… get the point?

3. Centralisation is the key to effective administration and cost-control.

So the States, fiefdoms and the multiplication of replica administrations and functions are gone. Finished. Sure we still have Super Franchises based on the geographic principle to leverege parochial competition, but these are licences to be traded off and their assets levereged for the benefit of the national game. But Country Rugby, NSW Rugby, Queensland Rugby and every other Tom, Dick and Harry-fiefdom-rugby etc etc are all toast. They are a completely unneccessary layers of expense, polliticking and bureaucracy.

We have the ARU. They are the central body and they will administer directly to each competition. Crystalise their accountability by removing all the obfuscating, self-serving layers of beauracracy.

4. Accountability must be driven into the ARU.

657140-bill-pulver

How? The ARU is run by the Executive.The Executive is hired/fired by the Directors. So we make it incumbent on the Directors that the ARU Executive are answerable to the grass-roots membership via dramatically increased levels of disclosure and transparency. We do this by instigating elections of Directors and charge them with the accountability. I would facilitate this by having ARU memberships that cost $50 a year (or say $500 for life) made available to anyone who met 2 conditions:

  • Is actively involved in a club (a paid-up member of a club)
  • Minimum 17yrs old (eligible to play seniors)

Then I would hold elections on the Directors every 4yrs with every ARU Member getting a vote (to be held in the 12mths post World Cup using e-voting based on your ARU card). I say this would dramatically improve the focus of those involved as the Directors have the Executive to pony up to the Members with the ramifications of not doing so being fairly simple and direct.

So that’s the plan. But to help better understand my points above, some further explanation on various ideas is offered below:

So where do we get numbers/participation?

I would invest above all else in kids through teens in high polpulation areas like western Sydney to start with. And there will be similar areas in Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast and the Central Coast. We become King of the Kids and get them playing our game even if it’s only 7 and/or 10’s initially. We place the onus of responsibility for providing the boots on the ground to run these clinics as part of the licence agreement with the Super Franchises to work with local ARU controlled competition administration/development officer to share it out and ensure equity and value.

So how do we get the kids playing?

Kids rugby 3

We have a good product for the audience (it’s a world game, it’s all-inclusive and it doesn’t have the violence and anti-social connotations of AFL & League). What holds it back is cost to play, pathway and heros to emulate.

So I say:

  • Cost – make it $50 to play with the rest underwritten by the ARU. Make it attractive via price & get as many bodies playing the game as humanly possible. Have you seen the cost of Little A’s or soccer lately? Insurance, administration etc is provided via the new streamlined ARU and funded by sponsorship rights to reach out to every rugby club/banner/ball/jumper/kit and goal-post-pad in the land
  • Pathway – the one thing we have got right of late is the NRC. This provides the hitherto missing link for the later developing, tight forwards or “off the radar” types who didn’t go to Joeys or Churchie (don’t get me started on that…)
  • Heroes – a key part of your national contract (discussed later) is a commitment to two fundamentals:
    • Availability on an as-needs basis to attend training clinics as required by your Franchise
    • To not act in a manner detrimental to the opinion or standing of the game

Without going back over earth turned to dust, under this approach Beiber and Beagle were gone and were easily replaced by the production line of willing kids coming out of the previously un-tapped areas

Other thoughts:

1) Everyone involved must register and everyone who registers is bound to the ARU and the ARU says for what Franchise/Club they will play/coach/strap whatever for. Part of that Registration is nominating your desired Club. This may seem heavy handed but it would give an ultimate point of control & appeal for all sorts of issues. I seriously doubt the ARU would stop me playing for (say) Blue Mountains Rugby next year and instead direct me to play for Randwick. But if it serves the national interest for (say) Tahs No2 Hooker to be sent to the Rebels then so be it.

The ARU and Franchises will develop their own operating protocols on how this would work most efficiently (eg an internal salary cap with credits for local development and longevity) but the over-riding power goes to the ARU to step-in and deploy players in the national good (ie heavily influenced by the national coach). Further this idiocy of tri-partite agreements ends.

2) Rugby Development Contribution Scheme is a legally binding contract (much like HECS) to be signed by any Player in conjunction with their first top-tier contract in Australia. Its purpose is that the Player under-takes that if they become a Tier 1 player and then choose to leave Australian rugby to play overseas then they owe a calculated figure back to the ARU for the development expense incurred.

3) There are no more flat test match payments. They just piss me off. But they are apportioned to reward result. I, as an ARU Member, don’t mind paying more to a player get a result (and for a loss I pay less). So I would pay less in base salary and far more for test matches. Eg:

  • $10k for making the game day 23
  • $10k pro-rata for minutes on-field
  • $10k win bonus

The point is not the money. It’s that reward equates to result.

So there are my suggestions. Now out with your knives and tell me why I’m wrong or God forbid you offer your own…

  • Braveheart81

    Seems hard to have the ARU administer every grassroots competition when it will be volunteers on the ground actually running things. One of the reasons we have so many Unions/fiefdoms is that those volunteers need to be able to make decisions which affect their own competitions.

    Trying to dictate where players play and potentially move around at the will of someone else seems a recipe for players heading overseas. A draft system works well when you have a captive market. Are there any sports where a draft exists where there is significant external competition for players?

    The best players who become Wallabies get paid hansomely and without doubt get benefit from development provided to them over the years. At the same time they are also the ones that allow the ARU generate the revenue it relies on. It’s not a one way street in that regard.

    • Bizzare

      It is not that long ago rugby at all levels generated income of the players and they got nothing. In any game the player is the $ asset Rugby needs to be able to realise the actual cash from the investment in the player not a real, but un-attributable amount. I am sure the players association will kick up about the idea of a transfer scheme of HECS type payment, but they didn’t kick up when the game became professional. Might have some real pain in terns of the contracts of existing players, but if you cancelled than all and asked for volunteers for 23 man squad on the new contract I doubt there would be a shortage of hands, might take a while to get top a flight team back, but it would happen. Short term pain long term gain and many interesting b debates on the subject.

      • Braveheart81

        It is a professional game though now and that is the market we participate in. The professional side of the game is what drives revenue and it is hard to foresee that changing. If you gutted the Wallabies and revenues collapsed I don’t think it would just be short term pain. I think it would take a long time to overcome.

        A HECS style payment seems completely unworkable from a legal standpoint. The ARU doesn’t have rights to taxation. How would off contract players playing overseas be made to pay money to the ARU?

        Do you really think a team of amateurs training a few nights a week could compete on the world stage?

    • tip

      when one plays for the aus schoolboys, they sign a “1 year” contract stipulating that
      a) they are not affiliated or contracted with any league club for the next year and intend on playing colts / grade rugby
      b) if point a is not met and player ends up in the Toyota cup then they must repay the aru the money it cost to take said player on tour

      Not much different for Aus rugby and the ARU pumping money into individuals after school

  • Train Without A Station

    Nutta you has some good ideas which I agree with but there’s some pie in the sky stuff there too.

    The repayment scheme for example has almost no legal basis. How do you calculate the costs which the ARU is “owed”?

    How to does the ARU enforce this? Now for my HECS, If I go overseas the Australian government cannot make me contribute my repayments, and I am only liable if I return. How do you enforce this, especially when the majority of players would never return to play under the ARU?

    The ARU underwriting the costs for the juniors that you nominated is also a tough one. With what? They are taking in regular losses which are greater than their irregular profits. The whole introduction of the NPF and NIL is because of this.

    Also I think the ARU running the states is a bit of an issue. They could be quite out of touch based out of Sydney. Then the districts are the same again. As far as I’m aware these are not run for a profit either, the fees they charge are to cover their costs.

    • Bizzare

      I recently thought and posted about HECS type scheme and came to the same conclusion that it would be difficult to administer, but then was hit in the head by a simple realisation that there is a simple model that works, implementation of a transfer fee, it has been working in Soccer for years, to the point where a low division club looks to find the next big thing at 12 and sell them to Man U at 14 for 000’s who then sells them to whoever for 000’000 if they make it. The Soccer transfer market recognises the discovery and skill of the player and the investment of the club. There is no allowance in rugby for any discovery or investment in the player. There are going to be implications, but the Soccer model works!

      • Braveheart81

        The transfer fee has been discussed in detail on the forums. Look at how it works in professional football. Biggest transfers generally happen between the top clubs and smaller clubs routinely sell their best players to survive. It is a system that favours those with the most money. It would encourage the ARU/Super Rugby sides to sell their best players to the richest clubs whislt still under contract. You don’t get paid anything when a player is off contract.

        • Simon_Sez

          The ARU in my opinion should be signing up young talent on very long term contracts. The contracting of those players should be centralised. Inevitably some of those contracted players will be duds, but some will become very valuable. The contracts could be sold on those who are desired internationally. The business model as I see it would benefit Australian rugby in the long term as the net cash generated would increase the net worth of the ARU as the net contract values increase. This model would help to recapitalise the ARU making it more financially robust.

        • Train Without A Station

          So back to the old model of having too many players contracted who were no longer worthy of a contract?

        • Braveheart81

          Why would anyone sign a contract for say longer than three years? The best players will always have the most room to move in contract negotiations because their services are most in demand.

        • Brendan Hume

          How could you afford to do this? And at what level would you sign someone – $50,000 a year for 10 years indexed at CPI for a 15yo because they look like they’re going to be a star, but then decide Rugby’s not their sport and they want to stop playing, but can’t because they are contractually obliged to play Rugby for the next ten years? If someone’s good enough, that’s not enough money, and if they aren’t good enough, its too much… And you only realise any profit from your contract if you sell that player’s contract. I’d be interested to know how you would see this actually working.

        • Braveheart81

          If we operated under a system of slavery it would be much easier to finance. Parents can sell their children into indentured labour with the ARU not to be released until they’re 30.

        • Nutta

          You may be on to something there…

        • Simon_sez

          On a $100,000 a year retainer till the age of 35, and they can take income on top of the retainer would seem like a pretty comfortable indenturing. If they go to league, AFL or overseas the contract can be bought out, and they can keep the rest once the agreed $ threshold had been paid.

      • Train Without A Station

        Oh for fucks sake. I’m sorry to come across harsh but this “transfer fee” chestnut gets brought up so regularly.

        Does anybody look at what a transfer fee is?

        It’s a payment from one team to another, for an in-contract player. The fee is not for the player actually, it’s for the player’s contract.

        How can you enforce a payment, to contract a player from another country who is out of contract? There is no legal basis for this.

        • Bizzare

          Maybe time to stop messaging about with 12 & 24 month contracts?

        • Train Without A Station

          Well they started doing that because long term contracts ended up overpaying players who wouldn’t make the test team anymore.

          So that’s the alternative.

        • Bizzare

          …….but that is better to invetsigate than, oh I don’t know, getting all the grass roots players including juniors to subsidise the players at the top of the pyramid on 6 and 7 digit salaries?

        • Train Without A Station

          What’s there to investigate? There’s no legal basis.

          How can they enforce any fee for a player out of contract? They are out of contract and the former employer has zero rights.

          Have you reviewed the ARU financials? Because your claim that the NPF and NIL are subsidizing the top players is wrong. The Wallabies makes enough money to pay the players and also cover the shortfall in Super Rugby revenue.

          The NIL and NPF is covering this like the ARU community and state grants, administration, 7s program, HPU and Junior representative programs, etc. where there is a revenue short fall.

        • Nutta

          Where I am coming from is that once you are a Wobbly, once you are a tier 1 player, then you sign a deed to the ARU that basically says that if you take the skills developed and honed by the ARU and go O/S with them then you owe (say) $50k at NPV to the ARU to be paid on your return to Oz (there will be exceptions but overwhelmingly it is in under 5yrs). If you don’t return then it doesn’t get paid. If/When you come back you (perhaps) get a 3rd party sponsor to cover it or agree a payment plan over (again say) 5yrs or whatever. But the point is that if you take skills developed by the ARU and then the ARU loses its ability to cash-in on those skills (as it would if he stayed a Wobbly) then fair is fair.

        • Train Without A Station

          Why would you sign it?

          That’s just another barrier to make retaining players difficult.

        • Nutta

          I would sign it to be a Wobbly. Perhaps make it part of accepting the invitation to attend your first camp/tour – “You’re here now and this is part of the deal” – as by signing up and getting “Wallaby” on your cv (and the contract value that creates) is fair ROI for the undertaking

        • Train Without A Station

          Nutta, if you would do that, you’re either a communist, or an idiot, or a liar.

          I guarantee no manager would recommend a player sign a contract, that has a financial obligation to them, when they are in a competitive market.

          If you had potentially higher paying job offers from a company that’s bigger here in Australia, but also others internationally with potentially a better lifestyle, why would you take less money and also have to give some back?

          Because that’s the comparison to a potentially Wallaby who may be able to play in the NRL, or Japan and Europe.

          It makes zero sense at all. If somebody asked me to do that I would tell them to get fucked. I can’t have a full time career around my obligations to the sports so why the fuck would I be paying them anything back when I’ll be retired and having to find another career in a decade.

          You need to remember it’s the income from the Wallabies, which these players are a part of, which props up the losses from Super Rugby. They are already essentially putting back in to Australian rugby.

        • Nutta

          Wow. idiot, commo or liar… wow. Thanks for that. Much appreciated. Have a nice day.

        • Train Without A Station

          Nutta not exactly trying to have a dig at you. I’m just saying take the emotion out of it, and look at it from the perspective of somebody that does this as a career. Look at what you do for your career. Would you sign a contract to give back money when you can go somewhere else and get more money already?

          Is a tradesman expected to give back to the company he did an apprenticeship when he left because of all the training they put into him?

          The Wallabies which you are already a part of under this profited something like $32M in 2012. 2013 would have been higher due to the Lions Tour so it’s not a typical season to consider but I’d expect 2014 to end up similar.

          So the team that you’re a part of is already giving back a huge chunk of the revenue to other parts of the game. This flows down to Super Rugby grants, which is the arm that creates Wallabies and keeps afloat, HPU and 7s funding which is the pathways many wallabies come from, and until 2014 club rugby grants.

          THEN somebody asks you to dip into your pocket and give back some arbitrary amount for the development they have put into you (which cannot be quantified. Most of the work is done by volunteers for the good of their club or region for example) if you leave. Keep in mind many choose to leave because they are no longer wanted. Keep them a second kick in the teeth after being told they are surplus to requirements perhaps?

          Forget that it’s your natural skill and hard work that got there, but all the development has come from different vested interests for their own reasons. Like Super Rugby teams have put the development in because they think you can help win them a title, and they want the rewards associated with being that.

          You are talking about something that disregards the whole basis of professional sport and would only further make being a Wallaby a less attractive proposition. If there are costs associated with getting a player to where they are, I’m sure the ARU and franchises factor this into the contracts they offer to begin with.

        • Bizzare

          There is a transfer model that works incredibly well, not sure about the reasoning behind ranting on about “no legal basis” for thoughts on transfer fees or other similar ideas, obviously new contacts would have to be created and there world have to be significant courage on behalf of the ARU, but soccer has a model that works for players from the age of 13 and is proven to be beneficial to both parties, the scale is different and there is the chestnut of the precipitous of rich clubs buying all the players. There is no shortage of talented contact sports people in Australia, the key challenge is they are lost/never seen at rugby union grass roots going to RL and AFL on development contacts from 13 – 15.

        • Braveheart81

          How is the grassroots subsidising the professionals? The ARU/Super Rugby franchises give annual distributions to the unions below them. The professional game does make a profit if you take out these distributions. That is the crux of the problem. The funding that the amateur levels relied on is drying up because not enough money is being made in the professional game from TV rights and gate takings.

        • Who?

          My sub-union receives nothing from above, but rather pays affiliation fees up the chain. Similarly, my club has always had to pay affiliation fees up the chain to the sub-union, but now also has to pay the QRU and ARU. We receive nothing back. How’sz that not grassroots funding the professionals?

        • Train Without A Station

          Who? It’s a simple equation where the profits of the Wallabies, is greater than the expenditure to run them.

          That’s how it’s not funding them.

          There are ineffective parts of the ARU business, but it isn’t the professional teams collectively.

        • Who?

          The point, though, is that any area making a profit is helping to fund any area not making a profit. The grassroots – where we’re all volunteers – isn’t running at a loss. Or, if it is, it’s allowed to fold – it’s not supported from above, or from bodies alongside (i.e. brother clubs/unions). Not at grassroots level. That only happens at the elite level.
          So, grassroots runs at breakeven or a meagre profit (for future security’s purposes – these are generally not-for-profit organizations), the ARU doesn’t, and now they want us to fund the big boys. Who do nothing for us (you complained half in your GC team don’t watch S15 – fair enough!!! 2/3 of Aussies don’t have Foxtel. So that means the Reds do nothing to promote our game to people who aren’t actively looking for them. And the ARU can’t even get all the Tests of FTA – I see more NFL games per year on FTA than Rugby games!).
          Now, the reality is that, had these sorts of levies been imposed with fair warning (and this is now two consecutive years where the ARU’s made a cash grab after budgets have been finalized – by our volunteer committees), starting with low rates, there’d be no outcry. It’d be a frog-in-a-slowly-warming-pot situation, that we could all manage. But that’s not the case. It’s two consecutive big cash grabs that’s effectively throwing the frog straight into boiling water. Which will see him (in this metaphor, clubs and players) jump out.

  • SuckerForRed

    I am liking the sound of the “Republic of Nutta”. Where do I sign up?

    There are probably a few things in there that will require a bit more discussion & investigation to make sure that ‘unintended’ consequences are minimised but generally I like the sound of it.

    • Nutta

      Cheers SFR. The original piece was much longer and more complicated and thus unfit for print. It largely anticipated/answered the criticism’s so far. But at least this gets the discussion cracking.
      For me the point is more centralization, less fiefdom and thus more clear accountability. That and preparing for the revolution…

  • RobC

    Thanks. Interesting post.

    What is described shares the same principles as NZRU / Borg model. It also seems to focus on participation as a representation of grassroots:
    – Pulver if you may have noticed, tried to park both Tahs and Rebs under the Reds administration. To implement the central model
    – The ARU growth model is also for participation, as opposed to other forms of grassroots. In their case via sevens

    I believe the opportunity for growth is alignment for administrators and coaches at school and club level via the state admins. They are the keys to grassroots success. Participation follows after.

    A NSW-based, ACT-based or Brisbane-based ivory ARU tower controlled by yet another benevolent leader is at this point, not practical. Because we don’t have one, nor the network of people and leaders to support it.

    re directors, the election is in fact reviewed regularly by ARU members. The Chairman is reviewed every four years. Part of the recent reform

    In any case, as you mention the important thing is grassroots participation (the cake). Not necessarily winning wallabies (icing).

  • Hugh Cavill

    All good in theory, but a lot of them are too removed from reality and have an air of Soviet Russia about them.

    But I can’t get past the first point- why do we want to be the #1 sport? I couldn’t give a shit about that. Yeah it would help to win trophies and stuff, but I don’t think the approval of the masses would make rugby any better at all. I think our goal should be to create a sustainable model that produces great football at all levels. Popularity may or may not come with that, but I don’t think it should be the defining indicator of the code’s success.

    • Nutta

      Morning Hugh. This isn’t Russia. This is the Republic Of Nutta working for the better of the game as a nation. I want it to be the No1 sport because a) it should be 2) it could be and 3) the spin-offs that sort of momentum creates. It’s precisely the parochial issue (be it state vs state or eastern suburbs vs western suburbs) that holds us back in my opinion. But others are entitled to theirs. So what would you do differently?

      • Hugh Cavill

        I don’t think you can get away from parochialism though your attempts are laudable.

        Ultimately our whole code is build around parochialism, whether it be small scale (schools, local clubs) or large scale (internationals). That is true of all sport, really.

        And I don’t think the current administrative set-up reflects parochialism, more that it reflects convenience. Having a big, all-powerful central body doesn’t work for the five or six teams in outback Queensland who just want to have a kick around on a Saturday. It creates an administrative burden on both sides, and that is why local authorities have been set up to deal with such situations.

        Ultimately the idea of abolishing state unions and local districts is similar to the argument to abolish state governments. While on the surface it seems valid, ultimately you would just be shifting the bureaucracy and administration to another building, rather than really making any changes or savings.

        • Who?

          Fair point about the central administration and outback clubs. But the reality is that all the regional clubs in my area (under QCRU jurisdiction) will be gone within 2 years under the new fee system imposed by the ARU/QRU in the current system of fiefdoms and feudalism anyway, so maybe that’s not a concern..?
          :-P
          That is to say, I see where both of you are coming from…

    • sheek

      I appreciate I’m a month late, but I support Hugh. Becoming most popular sport is mostly irrelevant. Becoming sustainable is much more relevant. The key for Australian rugby is being the best it can be. Do that, & peripheral stuff like popularity will take care of itself.

  • Brendan Hume

    Great article. Don’t agree with most of the implementation – I’m not too sure if you’re more focused on junior or senior participation, but the general principle of the ARU being the guiding hand for rugby in Australia is a good one, with a clear vision, focus on participation and accountability for the measures of success being key to this management.

    As mentioned by another commentor – the ‘fiefdoms’ are generally run by volunteers below the state level. You wouldn’t save too much by centralising staff in the state and ARU bodies – it could definitely be investigated, but most hands-on employees would remain.

    For by two-bobs worth
    – I think the ARU should have a stronger focus on formal pathways programs with a strong club focus and rely less on the private school networks for junior elite development. The Junior Gold pathway is a good one and should be strengthened. In no other sport is junior development so incredibly geared towards a select group of participants.

    – I think administration and management of rugby should be done primarily on a sub-union level, and the ARU and state staffing should be geared towards supporting this on a sustainable basis (focused on high level admin, high level organisation and competition, education, and optimising insurance models). Essentially, each sub-union (city juniors, seniors, sub-districts, regional district) would have clear goals that they would implement sustainably, and run almost on a franchise basis – paying some royalty to the ARU for the support of their staff, but having some autonomy in managing junior development, senior rep football, etc. Each area is different and diversity strengthens the whole.
    – Much more support and focus needs to be given to the peripheral participants in rugby. Refereeing is my main issue here, as well as administrators.
    – The ARU and states should look hard at what they can do at minimal cost that would provide huge benefit – think Tourism Queensland’s Greatest Job in the World campaign. Making opportunities for people to attend training sessions, games, recovery sessions, clinics, etc as participants, reporters or observers can cost nothing, and yet provide the impetus for lifelong commitment to the game. Better recognition of grassroots volunteers costs nothing except an intern a few hours writing a story. Our biggest asset is our community, the Wallabies and State teams have unique, ‘money can’t buy’ experiences to offer. We should leverage these better.

    So no matter how much i disagree with the mechanics of your article, great job at bringing some positive thought to the discussion! Thank you.

    • Nutta

      Thankyou Brendan

  • kp

    If the players will only win for money they should not be playing for Australia.

    But I get the gist of what your are saying Nutta – if they lack the ticker then maybe a financial incentive might spur them on. How sad but how true.

    I wonder if they All Blacks, Springboks or …(insert just about any other rugby playing nation) suffer from the same problem?

  • Michael

    For any form of change to occur the current ARU board/executive must be replaced with qualified sport administrators which come from around the country or overseas. Emotionally unattached and professional aligned. Until this occurs, no point discussing change of any form.

    Show me a way to remove the current boys club and have fresh elections in the next 3 months at the ARU level, then we can move the game we love and respect forward.

    Andrew Demetriou is the first candidate I put forward.

    Thoughts?

    • SuckerForRed

      Don’t know much about Demetriou except the whole ASADA thing. But agree with you about the need to remove the boys club. From ALL levels.

      • Michael

        If Demetriou is unavalable, Ross Oakley or Ian Collins are quality options.

        • Braveheart81

          In his last year in charge of the AFL, Demetriou earned $3.8m. The ARU could not afford him. That is something like 5x Pulver’s salary.

        • Michael

          maybe some of the other directors need to take a pay cut for the good of the game. ;-)

        • Braveheart81

          The directors have taken a pay cut. They’re being paid relatively little now. It’s certainly a very small amount given their responsibility and personal liability if things go wrong. I think some of the director appointments could be made better, but based on what they’re paid, they’re entirely there for the love of it, not the remuneration.

        • Michael

          indecision from years ago has got the game into the trouble it is in now. Being from Victoria and living in NSW now, it certainly does not feel like a national game. People around the country at grass roots actually do not feel engaged. Luckily the rugby community is strong at grass roots, if not the game would be in a worse situation it is now. At the moment it is below rock bottom. Can’t rely on goodwill for too much longer.

        • Braveheart81

          I agree completely. We are paying now for mismanagement over the last decade or more. The ARU spent money like the windfalls of hosting the RWC and having a world beating team were going to last forever. Now the ship is trying to be righted by getting expenditure in check but that is happening in a climate of falling revenues and more difficulty retaining players due to competition from overseas. Rugby is in a very difficult position in Australia now and it seems like it will be a massive challenge to get out of it.

        • Michael

          the amount middle class supporters/participants of the game around Australia is massive. I think the ARU have missed this fact for sometime.

        • Train Without A Station

          Why do you think they have missed it?

        • Michael

          this extra fee per player will kill clubs. Especially those mates of mates players who fill in during the winter months. hard times ahead for the little clubs.

        • Train Without A Station

          Just because they have done something that will negatively affect clubs, it does not mean they have missed the fact.

          It just means that they are near insolvency and can no longer afford to subsidize community rugby at the same rate.

          This is actually understandable, because clearly this has not resulted in increased support, attendances and viewers nation wide. The opposite actually.

          From a commercial point of view, they were not getting a return.

        • Michael

          2nd tier nation status for us at the 2019 rugby world cup. :-)

          Looks like we have to focus our attention on golf instead.

          When the game is going from strength to strength overseas, it is a very sad situation indeed.

        • Train Without A Station

          It is. But the ARU aren’t trying to sell the game to overseas audiences, they are trying to sell it to Australian audiences who have greater competition with contact, over ball codes.

          What has the ARU got out of subsidizing local rugby until now? I played for a team on the Gold Coast with 3 grades. I’d guess that less than 10 players across all grades attended more than one match. And then half of them would attend the match of their NZ team playing the Reds.

          Less than half the club watched Super Rugby. I was in the minority that didn’t watch NRL.

        • Michael

          I hear you matey, I am also a solid Melbourne Storm supporter. I have personally invested a lot of time and personal funds at grassroots rugby union level. (Also as a player) It has got to the point where I question, why do I/we stay involved?

          Do we as a grass roots community continue to accept where the game is going in Australia? We need people who are specialised sports administrators.

          Something has to change very soon. If it doesn’t I will take my time, energy, money and apply it to something more rewarding.

          That is my 30 sec rant. :-)

        • Brendan Hume

          But the grassroots is expected to shell out for a program that, as you put it – “they were not getting a return.”

          That’s my problem with the plan – why would I invest in something that has already failed?

        • Train Without A Station

          Brendan,

          The ARU’s motivation to invest is to grow the code. This has not happened.

          You motivation to invest is to participate. That’s why you should.

        • Brendan Hume

          I don’t understand sorry. Participants are being asked to pay to fund the Grassroots programs that were previously funded by the ARU/States. I don’t see value in where they spent their money – I think the ARU should cut all but the most essential grassroots services, and move on from there.

        • Train Without A Station

          Based on the way subsidization of the grassroots has worked for the ARU to date, the evidence suggests that the only benefit they get, is assisting the grassroots.

          People claim the ARU has a top down approach despite the fact the distribution of funds doesn’t support this. That shows the ARU has run the Wallabies to support the grassroots. This support has not resulted in any increased support of the professional game, rather a decline. Attendance is on a decline, viewership appears to be on the decline. Supporting players to be able to come play 1 or 2 games hasn’t resulted in rapid growth in grassroots numbers due to them taking it up. It’s more so resulted in shuffling the deck chairs, keeping afloat teams that lack the numbers to really remain in competitions.

          From a commercial point of view, how would investing in the grassroots in an attempt to grow it, assist the ARU in growing? It appears it wouldn’t. It appears the money invested has yielded no benefit.

          Now you are claiming that if it hasn’t worked for the ARU, you do not see the value. I’d disagree with that. I think you and I do. I think that because I’ll be paying my subs and playing and you are continuing to be involved in the game, because we are involved in the grassroots, because we want the grassroots to grow for the benefits of our clubs.

          That’s a very simplistic way to look at it. I understand there are more considerations of course.

        • Brendan Hume

          Okay, I think we’re seeing different things then. I don’t see value in the grassroots spend in its current format, for the ARU or the clubs. If the ARU is bleeding on community rugby, don’t spend any money on community rugby – it’s just wasting everyone’s time. But don’t expect the community to pay the ARU to run the same programs that haven’t yielded results for either group. Certainly no money is given to any club in Australia except the Super Rugby franchises and the premier competition clubs in NSW and Qld (and possibly WA, ACT and Vic), so all the funding of community is program and employee based. Apart from being able to use MyRugby, and being able to access Insurance, I’ve had no dealings with the ARU from a club or player perspective, and apart from being able to access education services (which are operated commercially), I have had very little interaction with the QRU and none that I would suggest has benefited either party. That’s okay by me, but I can’t cop that myself and my club of 120 or so seniors are going to pay $98 per head and my 200 odd juniors are going to be shelling out $67.50 for those programs because the ARU or state doesn’t have the funds available.
          I don’t want to argue over this, I just want it to be quite clear that I think the average punter is being shafted in this arrangement. There is no new plan from the ARU or the States, it’s just more of the same and I can’t understand why we’d be trying to flog a dead horse.

        • Train Without A Station

          I get your point there and I agree. I think how the funds have been spent is also a huge issue.

          I’m not so sure i want to look squarely at the ARU though. My concern is that in the Gold Coast for example, the QRU then the GCDRU are tacking fees on.

          To my knowledge the QRU receives funding from the ARU and the GCDRU receives funding from the QRU (Could be wrong) so what are we getting for that?

          The ARU is spending the money mostly on central administration and state grants. I agree with that.

          I think many punters are getting a raw deal, but it’s from a lot of the state unions and the sub-districts.

          As far as I can see the GCDRU has 4 employees, to administer competitions in a region that has about 10 different clubs and a whole lot of age groups missing due to low participation. Why aren’t they out there trying to source sponsorship and revenue streams with their time? I refuse to believe they are busy administering this competition, and fostering development considering the decline in junior playing numbers.

        • Brendan Hume

          So we’re probably at the same point in our thinking, hahaha.
          Agree with everything in this post. Townsville is in a similar position – we don’t receive any funding as a sub-union, and we employ 5 people, but we are growing and we are financially sustainable. Our fees are based on a user-pays system – if you play a game you need to buy a game ticket. This pays for medics ($35-$40/hr), referees, grounds, lights, and in some part it pays for some other TDRU costs. These fees would end up being around $100 per year for a junior ($5/wk), $160 per year for a senior ($8/wk). The difference is that it’s paid as you go, no play – no pay, and the participants are directly engaged (through their clubs) in how the competition operates and how the money is spent. That’s entirely different to the proposed model. It works well here.

        • Train Without A Station

          It’s interesting to read that the sub-unions are not funded as the Reds publish Game Development expenditure of $4.8M in 2013. (They also note they fund premier rugby with $390k which we already knew).

          Where’s this going?

        • Brendan Hume

          Our sub-union isn’t funded directly. We do have a DO employed by the QRU that we didn’t want, or need.

        • Train Without A Station

          So I think the issue isn’t quite the ARU fees. They are fairly transparent in what they are charging for. There is a participation fee, which at $33 for seniors isn’t hugely unreasonable to deal with all administration, myrugbylink, etc. Whilst it doesn’t require a huge hierarchy, running a code centrally does take some resources, and this would cover them.

          Then there is the $75 for the insurance levy. Again based on the discussion with the Sydney clubs, the cost of sourcing this independently would be significantly greater, so surely in the scheme of insurance, you are getting value. It should be noted that if this is a new fee, the ARU have just previously paid this for the code.

          Now my query is what are the $65 I am paying to the QRU and the $71.50 I am paying to the GCDRU getting me? It’s my understanding that the medical staff at the ground have to be paid for by the home team, meaning that $71.50 is to cover referees. Considering that a total of 3 officials are used across 3 games it appears that the fees probably cover that and leave a little over. I’d be asking why the district aren’t using their resources to try and improve sponsorship so this fee can be minimized.

          I guess the real question is what are the QRU giving us for their $65?

          You can argue over the value of the ARU and district fees, but as noted, you probably would not source what’s provided any cheaper.

          So why are the states providing and why does it differ from state to state? That’s the real question.

        • Brendan Hume

          It’s still important to note that the ARU has said all the money is funneled back to the states. Perhaps they are paying for the admin/RugbyLink stuff out of other revenue, or that may be included already, it isn’t clear. I still reckon $33 is a bit steep if every senior rugby player in Australia is paying it, but I wouldn’t want to squabble too much over it – it would be nice to have some kind of PR that presented a positive plan to at least make everyone feel a bit better about being shafted.

          On the state fees – you’re absolutely right on the question you propose. And as club administrators, representing our members, we need to ask how does this provide any value for money. At what point does a senior regional rugby player get any benefit from grassroots community funding? All education courses are charged for (except SmartRugby which our sub-union delivers). Unless you’re playing rep rugby, I couldn’t imagine there is a single thing that the QRU is doing for a senior footy player – even then, I think rep rugby should be paid for by the player/club/sub-union. To think that between $98 from each senior player in Queensland is going to grassroots programs, and those players are receiving any value for money is ludicrous.
          Juniors (at $67.50) get little more except access to a couple of schools competitions (eg Ballymore Cup) if your school is good enough. Even then, many of those players aren’t necessarily playing rugby for clubs…
          If we’re paying this money there needs to be accountability for what it is being paid for, and participants need to have a say in whether the programs are worthwhile.

        • Who?

          I don’t know what it’s like up in Townsville, Brendan, but in my region, rep stuff costs players, and what they don’t cover comes from sponsorship that the region chases specifically for rep footy.
          I’ll note that, in my region, fees for first aid are covered by the region, refs are unpaid, and a significant part of our region’s funding goes to paying the two staff, whose job it is to placate the clubs, which are almost always at each other’s throats (in seniors, anyway!), trying to get the best for themselves (understandably). And, of course, the sub union pays fees to the next level up…
          And Ballymore Cup, well, round here, it just doesn’t happen. It’s not if the school’s good enough, it’s whether there’s teachers and kids interested, and funding to cover the teachers’ replacements for the day.

        • Brendan Hume

          I think the only rep footy that’s free to the player is Qld Country. All Townsville rep has an element of cost for the player (both junior and senior). Our sub-union structure seems to work very well – clubs work quite well together for the good of the game, even if sometimes at the expense of the clubs immediate interest. I think we realised long ago that we have a lot more in common than not, and we’re really in a battle to win players over from other sports. For that reason we’ve invested heavily in creating a positive environment for our junior players and we get the dividends in growth and positive feedback form families.
          I don’t think our sub-union pays anything to QRU though, although we don’t get anything from them either. We employ a Director of Rugby, a Development Coordinator, two trainee Development Officers (who are local club players, school leavers and who have two years in the job) an administrative assistant and a facility coordinator who manages the bar, the gate, etc. We have one facility primarily (which we own), with about a some of our games played at our home ground and some away.

        • Who?

          Wow, Townsville sounds a lot more centralized and metropolitan than I expected. As a competition, not a city. We’ve got 10 junior clubs, 10 senior clubs (not all the same clubs), no home ground (we have a traditional ground, but League’s muscled in because they can’t afford their traditional ground), no sports club. And the longest road trips in the (senior) comp are over 6 hours – each way. Juniors are lucky – we’re ‘only’ 3.25 hours each way for the longest trip in the comp…
          Given the distances, clubs are doing whatever they can to ensure they get their home canteens, to force other clubs to visit them and bring good numbers. Everyone’s desperately trying to ensure their own club’s survival, and I don’t think that more than three of them have the history and assets to be confident for more than two years ahead. Some have 50+ year histories, and still can’t put in full teams. Or fill committees. SO, with that pressure, even inside committees (moreso at senior level) there can be a lot of argy bargy, keeping our GM and RSO very busy.

        • Brendan Hume

          Which competition are you in? In that environment where travel is so excessive, it’s very difficult. I played a number of years in the Riverina and we had similar travel issues. Any development of a junior base is very difficult when you have small populations over a large area. In comparison, Townsville is very condensed – our DO’s work in Townsville (roughly 200k pop), Charters Towers, Ayr and Ingham, so max 1.5hr trip.

        • Who?

          I’m usually pretty discreet about my exact location (gives more freedom to talk a little out of school), but suffice to say our major hub for competition has a population of 100-120k, with regional communities of no more than 15k but up to 6 hours away in the mix. And you’ll have U15’s and U17’s from our region up there in February. In fact, we hosted Townsville last year…
          I do know that, in 2013, we were the second biggest QCRU sub union for participation, after GCDRU (2200 registered players). Which shows how beneficial having having a central venue and club with a bar can be for a region (given we don’t have it, and have 2 staff, whereas you have one, and therefore can afford 5 staff).

        • Brendan Hume

          If you’re up for the JGC, ask around for me. I should be there, have a few club kids playing in both age groups.

          The centralised facility makes some things really good, but also comes at a cost to club identity – that’s changed a little over the past few years because we’ve outgrown the facility and are forced to have games at other venues each week.

          Personally, I think Townsville Rugby does a great job, but as mentioned we don’t have the same barriers to overcome as some others (distance primarily), and in fairness to the QRU, those barriers exist right across the state outside 150km radius from Brisbane CBD,

        • Who?

          I won’t be up – my connections are younger (and won’t attend the right school anyway – JGC down here is dominated by two schools… Another bugbear) – but, given my memory for names has been a bit off this year, we may well have had a long chat last year when Townsville were down…
          We do sort of have that centralized location, in that three clubs play at a single ground up here. Well, three clubs across varying age groups (one’s Juniors + Teenage, another’s Teenage only (with Juniors and Seniors based literally hours away!), and the third’s Teenage and Seniors only). But the issue for us is that we’re far from the sole tenant on the field, and we don’t own it. So we don’t make money from it, rather, it costs us. And, in spite of the Wallabies having played there (years and years ago), the ground no longer has a primarily Rugby feel (they play both League and AFL there). I can appreciate the identity issues with a central location, but I’m guessing you don’t all train at the one location, and I’d reckon training venue is pretty key when you’ve a central location. Which is what you see in Melbourne with the AFL.
          And you don’t have to be even 150km from the Brisbane CBD for distance to be an issue – we’re just shy of that. ;-)

        • Brendan Hume

          Nah, wasn’t me. I didn’t make it to any of the away games. My kids are a bit young yet to have a crack.

        • RobC

          Train, Brendan, re top down approach etc. Im unsure thats actually the issue.
          I think the issue is the financial model is top heavy, ie too reliant on WB. And with that the SR teams.

          Team performance at various levels will vary. So will their finances. If the viability is limited to wins and whims of fans, Oz Rugby has no future.

          And it’s starting to show:
          – So right now we have a loss making Brumbies, Rebels.
          – Force has been loss making for past two years.
          – we’ll see what numbers come out for WA Rugby 2014.
          – ARU are forecasting loses also

          ARU currently owns the Tahs and Rebs because of financial and related operational issues.

          Oz Rugby has become a living version of the Mayan Apocalypto. Blood spilt, infighting to support the king and sun god.

          Sun God has to go. Fiddling with transfer, fees, doesn’t change the rot.

        • Train Without A Station

          Definitely.

          No domestic competition is the issue. Super Rugby does not serve the purpose that a domestic competition does for the NRL for example.

        • Who?

          They don’t subsidize community rugby. Come to my club and show me where we received money from the ARU/QRU in the past three years… In the books, that is.

        • Train Without A Station

          How do you think competitions are run? Development Officers, officials, etc.

          Just because your club doesn’t get a cheque that doesn’t mean the competition is not being subsidized and the costs of insurances, etc. being subsidized.

        • Who?

          Development officers are required to fund themselves by running Rookies to Reds courses. Tell me how many Tommy’s been running down there… That said, it’s well known – and has been since before Tom was sent to you – that the Goldie is a sporting wasteland…
          Next, their (DO’s) priority is to get into schools and run events like Ballymore Cup. Again, these provide no benefit to the clubs, as the kids who play rugby after playing for their schools are always the kids we’ve developed from U6’s. The rest of the kids go back to League. We don’t see new recruits from these events.
          How are competitions run? I’ll tell you! I spent the last three months putting together a draw, that’s how!!! Our refs are unfunded by the higher levels – they find their own sponsors and get some funding from the sub-union. That’s why our refs are broke – they can’t afford to fill the tank after driving 600+km/weekend and receiving half of it back in fuel allowances.
          Other than DO’s, we don’t see ANYONE related to the QRU in my region.
          I actually think we’d be better off following the lead of the elite schools – who get more funding than clubs in my region – and seceding…

        • Train Without A Station

          Are you sure? Because when they uproar about the insurance costs hit, Sydney clubs investigated sourcing their own insurance, and learned that it was cheaper with the ARU doing it and charging the NIL for example.

        • Who?

          Sydney’s a different kettle of fish. Their juniors (and, being honest, at the club I run, we don’t have seniors – our catchment is very thin between 18 and 30) are hit with only the $27.50 ARU fee, not the $40 QRU (or $44 ACT & SA?) levy. Plus, they’re already running higher fees, living in higher socio-economic areas… And they don’t deal with the travel costs we face. So, when my kid’s fees are jumping from $140 to $200 in a single year, and that’s with the club absorbing some of the costs…
          Last year it worked out to $200/junior team for insurance. This year, it’s less. But we could pay triple the insurance cost and still have more than 50% increases to our baseline costs by seceding. And MRA/RugbyLink? The former was buggy and untrustworthy, the latter’s still glitchy and underdeveloped. And appears to be a means of selling us all a new – at cost – website host… And, 2 weeks in, it appears that almost no one else un the state (98% of admins) has even bothered to look at it. Combined with the new cost structure, the cynic in me is wondering if it’s just a way for the ARU to have first dibs at registration cash, which it can use to smooth over cashflow issues it faces.

        • Train Without A Station

          I like how you point the blame at the ARU still.

          You know what they are charging for at least.

          The state is charging close to the same but what are you getting for that? That’s why Sydney is a different kettle of fish, because the state isn’t charging.

          If kids are going back to league that’s not because of what the ARU are doing. It’s potentially because of the QRU, but most likely the clubs.

          I have researched the matter and many league clubs are a comparable cost. Where these differ is if the club itself has sourced sponsorship and been able to reduce this. Is it the ARU’s fault that some league clubs are more commercially savvy?

        • Who?

          It’s both. I’ve consistently said ARU and QRU.
          What is the ARU charging for..? Access to a broken system and development of another system that may or may not benefit the clubs. That’s about it. What’s the QRU charging for? They’ll say development in the region, which, given our DO is required to earn his own wage in R2R, is equally weak.
          Why are the NSWRU not charging? Because the ARU’s still bailing them out! The QRU’s been making profits. The NSWRU’s not at that point in their cycle (and I remember 2007, it’s not a Qld vs NSW thing), they’re still weak financially, and they’re doing that because they understand they’re not going to survive if they lose big numbers of kids.
          And kids going to League – kids who’ve played League their whole lives, who’ve only played maybe two games of Rugby in a mickey mouse Rugby comp, kids we haven’t been able to reach any other way, them playing League is the clubs’ fault, not the QRU’s fault? I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. Not FAULT. I do think that the ARU is responsible for tv deals, and FTA tv is the only way to get access to average homes. So I hold them responsible for that. But I don’t see our failure to recruit them as being just on us. You’re talking about organizations of volunteers who are always running behind, never have enough cash…
          You might’ve researched the matter in terms of Rugby vs League for fees, but all that’s out the window now. Because League are flush with cash, and we’re getting stripped of ours. League has ALWAYS given away more merch – because they’re given it from above. Rugby, last year, our kids got a cap, 2/3 of the way through the season. So that the QRU could call all the junior players ‘Reds Members’. Now, our local League club will be charging 75% of what we charge and giving away 5x the value of our goods.
          And you talk sponsorship? I’m in a small country town. I’ve got fifteen sponsors. For a Junior club. That’s WAY more sponsors than the League club has. We just don’t get the money thrown at us that League has. And I’m not asking for money to be thrown at us. But you wouldn’t believe the anger that’s flooding through the country about these new levies…
          Seriously, regardless of sponsorship, with the current state of affairs, our entire region could fold within three years. Certainly in seniors, where everyone – EVERYONE – travels an average of 3 hours 20 minutes each week for their game. In juniors, it’s not quite as bad – it’s more like 1 hour 40. Not talking stuck in traffic, talking hours on the highway… Meanwhile, League’s travelling 50% less, charging 25% less, and giving away bucketloads more free kit. There’s only so much the grassroots can take, and we were already straining under the challenges that we naturally have in front of us.

        • Waz_dog

          They’re not there for the love of it – they’re there for the control of it. Massive difference and it shows through all tiers of rugby.

          Rob from the poor to pay for past mistakes will not solve the problem ARU has on their hands.

          If they are paid so little for the role they have it should be easy for them to walk from their positions and get better personal in.

        • Braveheart81

          Is this based on anything more than just your assumptions? Do you actually know is on the board of the ARU? Who would you suggest they appoint? The ARU director fees are now $10k per annum per director.

        • Waz_dog

          Yeah I looked them up a couple of days ago – http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/people.asp?privcapId=27162034

          I’d like to suggest a board member appointed by each franchise – that way there’s spread across the board (there’s QLD/NSW old boys in there) and should reflect into rugby right across Australia. Be good to see the money distributed more even too.

        • Train Without A Station

          Michael Hawker, the Chairman is on $20k per year. I think the directors are on less. Do you want them to pay Demetriou out of their own pocket?

    • Train Without A Station

      Start looking in the ARU’s price range. There’s my thoughts.

  • Hack Ref

    Matt can I suggest a good rugby Shrink. It helps me a lot as frustration is a mental condition.
    In short I think you have read the vibe and “change is essential” and I for one would support changes to strive for improvement. At present the hard work by those in control is largely unnoticed or unrewarded by the public either way we all feel disenfranchised.
    Elected to the ARU board of directors has a nice ring to it. So Yes!!!! Management skill sets can be found in the first tier of manages in the ARU I am sure.
    Player Hecs – Love the idea. Paid for a degree so why not pay for a rugby career.
    Remove retainer contracts for the Wallabies. Use the 10K + 10K + 10K system. Its a privilege to play for your country and I fail to see why someone who plays in Europe is not considered for the Wallabies. God knows Matt Gits would have been useful as a steady hand number 10 while Foley beds in. Not to mention some handy locks like Kane Douglas etc. After all we drafted Sharpie for a good while to help out for which he never let the side down. Onya Sharpie!
    But key is management strategy. We appear to put the hole box and dice on the concept that if the Wallabies win all will be good! That’s the only thing we have almost no control over. Our success is always relative to the success of the other nations. If the blacks trot out another generation of immortals (Brooke, Kirwin, Carter, McCaw arrh the list is too long and boring…) we are stuffed. Same for the Boks and Poms. So our success should be based on what we can control and that’s grass roots participation. That gives us the funds and player pool to succeed.
    Now it does sound a little over simplistic that we can generate it from the bottom up without the top guys having a success or two. But it is about priorities.
    Franchises? They are hard work. But game day experience is key! At the moment the Asian Football Federation Cup (Wendy ball) is on in Australia. The ticket price is $15.00 a seat. Yep $15.00…………………….. Their numbers are high perhaps I need to think why they can do it but our mob can’t.
    Lots of good work needs to go on and I for one will help wherever need. The shame is,there are thousands like me living in the grass roots.

  • Stray Gator

    Bloody hell!!! Are we f*****g invisible down here?
    FWIW, I largely agree with TWAS and Hugh Cavill. But I’ll add my own 2 cents worth: overlook Vic and WA at your peril. And FFS, will some north of Albury rugby administrators take a hard look at the VRU/Rebels alignment to get an idea of how to do it.
    Rant over. As you were.

    • Train Without A Station

      Read that Rebels are on the way to record membership. I’m leaving after 3 years living here but the strides they have made in that time has been commendable.

      When you look at players like Digby Ioane, Ben Tapuai, Christian Lealiifano, Siliva Siliva, Lloyd Johansson, Tala Grey and more coming out of Melbourne prior to the Rebels, this is only going to improve.

      The biggest issue they’ve had is long term injuries to their most promising under 20s players which has stopped their development for periods of time.

      • Brendan Hume

        The junior development seems to be very successful – from memory they were finalists is the Jnr Gold Cup U15 and U17 comps? Haven’t won an Aust Schoolboys Championship though as far as I’m aware so it might say something about the Jnr Gold Cup…

        • Train Without A Station

          They lack the number of quality players to compete at Aus Schoolboys level now. They compete in the Southern States Championship I believe.

        • Brendan Hume

          Maybe it says more about the schools program there or the distribution of talent in the Gold Program in the larger centers, but they did make the finals of the Gold Cup – winning U15 and losing U17 to WA.

  • Patrick

    I’d sign up I don’t agree with it all but as you state first up, at least it’s a fucken plan.

    • Nutta

      Cheers Paddy – we do SOMETHING or we wither & die…

  • Chris M

    Nutta, your overarching principles are excellent. I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot of argument there. The lower level discussion might see some disagreement, but if everyone can agree on the broad points, this would be a good start.

    If we started with your first two points alone, Australian Rugby would take off again. If we all took the time to understand the big picture and put the national game (including the Vics, WAs, etc) first, rather than pushing state/club/individual barrows, we’d see some big changes. Keep your parochial, fanatical attitudes, but leave them at the park and understand that the national game is bigger than your team.

    Participation is even more important for mine. Of course, there are no published numbers, but I’m sure if there were, they would show that the fans who park themselves on a seat and buy a scarf are the ones who play/played or have a kid in that boat. More people playing the game means more yellow jerseys in bigger crowds at Wallabies games.

    • Rugby

      How about the same system as the cricket

    • Nutta

      Cheers Chris

  • PiratesRugby

    Melbourne is a “population centre” too. I’m no expert but I’m sure that Melbourne may have at least as many people as say, Brisbane or the Gold Coast? Nutta, your prescription amounts to more of the same. The AFL, NRL and soccer have struck out beyond their Melbourne or Sydney heartlands, often at the expense of traditional clubs like Fitzroy or North Sydney etc.
    Rugby is a great game. It has history and it has had a moral code which the other football sports lack. It is international. It tests a man’s courage and physical ability. It has a place for the big guy and the little guy. Australians are good at it. There’s plenty there to work with.
    Rugby will not survive if the main objective is to get as many Waratahs into gold jumpers. Actually, that’s not quite true. If rugby keeps going the way it is, it will be played by only a few schools in Sydney and Brisbane and all the wallabies probably will come from the Tahs.

  • Nutta

    Thanks to all for their in-put, even the guys I disagree with. I concede some of this may not fly in the current landscape. But this isn’t the current landscape. It’s the mythical Republic of Nutta. Bear that in-mind. And that being said, dare I suggest some of this was a little more provocative than what I actually believe if to do nothing else than get a reaction and start the conversation. We can all sit around and whine and whinge until the 2nd coming of Christ, but nothing actually changes unless we come up with ideas and bloody well do it. Remember that if you want to see something fixed, you fix it yourself.

  • bad ass

    Making the directors accountable via a democratic process is a reasonable idea, but introduces a complex web of additional, politically motivated behavior. I propose a far more simple democratic process. Every one (as selected using your criteria) gets just one vote every year – who to ostracize. Everyone including directors, players and referees is eligible to be voted for. He/she with the most votes is ejected from the game in Australia for good. There may be a few dickheads the first year, but I would guess the number would dwindle very quickly. The year following the ejection of a director or chairman we should see a steady increase in ARU director performance indicators.

    • Nutta

      Raising the group average by eliminating the under-performers… you may be onto something there…

      • bad ass

        Fear of being ostracized will increase performance in those who remain.

Club Rugby

Underfed front-rower with no speed or ball skills. Started playing footy in the 70's and still going. Can't remember the last time I passed on a ball, beer or karaoke mike. Motto - "Meat and potatoes first. Then gravy. And you don't put gravy on the plate first Boy."

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