The Tuesday Top 5 - Green and Gold Rugby

The Tuesday Top 5

The Tuesday Top 5

Well here we are, at the end. The World Cup is done and won, there is no more rugby on the tele and we have to find something more to do with our lives for the next 87 Days until Super Rugby kicks off again. This week we will look at how (not) to fix Australian Rugby, some of our personal highlights from the World Cup and take a last look at some of the great twitter work from the past couple of months.

What to do with Australian Rugby?

Yesterday there was an opinion piece on Fox Sports about how to fix Australian rugby. It was something that I have seen a lot of people agree with, but leaves me feeling a bit … well meh. This, according to Christy Doran, was the solution.

Scrap the NRC. Focus on club rugby. As the club rugby comps around the country run, include a Heineken Cup style of comp, where teams from the different competitions play each other in a knockout style. So as the Shute Shield, Brisbane competition, John I Dent etc are running, some of the rounds will be Cup rounds where there is a cross over. And just to make sure it is all fair, with no appearance of bias towards certain states, he suggests Canberra and Perth have 2 teams each and one from Melbourne. Plus all of the Shute Shield and Brisbane Premiership teams. 25 teams, with 80% from Sydney and Brisbane. No mention of the country areas either.

The theory is that clubs already have fan bases, crowds would be big and players would feel more connected to the clubs.

Aussie rugby has been struggling to shake off the shales of the amateur era since the game turned pro. The last thing this game needs is to go backward to a by gone era that will reduce its footprint and reduce the standard of the game overall. The players themselves are all on public record saying that the NRC is that NPC equivalent: the third-tier step in the player development pathway that’s missing compared to most other nations. Let’s not get sucked in to the romance of history and populist ideas.

The rusted-on supporters of grass roots are simply too insufficient in numbers to take the game forward. Beyond the hyperbole of alleged numbers of supporters at club level, which primarily emanates from NSW, the reality once examined might be very different. Consider this tweet:

These easy options will not help our game, rather will have the likes of the NRL, AFL and FFA breathing a sigh of relief as Rugby again prefers to dwell in some suburban park rather than on the larger stage where the sponsors, advertising and money to fund the sport will be found.

Let’s keep the conversation relevant. How do we fund this game? More professional competitions or with lots of club rugby?

Personally, I like the NRC. I don’t have any connection to club rugby here in Canberra, I grew up in a family that played other sports, my own kids are only just coming to the age where they are interested in playing rugby and the only connection I have to rugby is through going to the Brumbies matches for the past 20 years. Club rugby doesn’t hold the same interest for me. I know that there are others who would support their clubs over, for example, the Tahs. They would probably love this idea for a National Club Championship. In fact, I know a lot of people who would definitely agree that club rugby is the way forward.

I know that there isn’t a solution that will keep everyone happy, I just hope that whatever RA do next is in the best interests of rugby and rugby fans in Australia.

Brisbane City rolling maul

Brisbane City rolling maul

Our Cup Highlights

So what were our standout moments from the World Cup?

  • The Japanese people. I loved the way they embraced the game, the teams and the competition. Seeing Japanese jerseys at every game, fans with both teams painted on their faces because they supported everyone and watching the way they greeted the players was really awesome.
  • The way that the Japanese culture was part of it all. The gongs used to signify half and full time, the drums as the players waled out on to the field and the respect shown by the players, bowing to the crowds after the game.
  • The little touches – the children who ran out with each team not only learning, but singing the anthem of the team they were with. Watching a small Japanese child belting out the South African anthem was great to see,
  • The Brave Blossoms. It was definitely a highlight watching them beat Ireland, but then the way they ran over Scotland to make the finals was pretty special.
  • Seeing the improvement in some of the tier 2 nations, like Uruguay and Fiji.
  • The final. Come on now, who didn’t have a bit of an emotional moment when Siya Kolisi lifted up that trophy. The more I read about him, the more incredible he becomes.
  • The Springboks coming from losing their opening match, not letting it get to them that they basically had to play knockout rugby every round showed how far they have come in the past 18 months.


Speaking of South Africa …

Remember the last World Cup, where South Africa suffered a shock loss to Japan? Well the following year Allister Coetzee took over as head coach and South Africa hit a bit of a rough patch. They lost to Ireland at home for the first time, lost to the Pumas for the first time and finished 3rd in the Rugby Championship. Then they went win-less on their end of year tour for the first time since 2002.

Things looked better in 2017, with Coetzee basically put on notice. The Springboks beat France 3-0 in the mid-year test series and started the Rugby Championship well with back to back wins over the Pumas and a draw against the Wallabies. However they then suffered their biggest loss in over 100 years, going down 57-0 to the All Blacks. After another draw with the Wallabies and a tight loss to New Zealand, the Springboks suffered another record loss, this time to Ireland. They also lost to Wales on their end of year tour. The poor results led to Coetzee getting the sack early in 2018.

At the time, Rassie Erasmus was Director of Rugby for South Africa. When Coetzee got the boot he was made head coach. Things looked to have turned around pretty quickly, with the Boks beating England 2-1 in the June test series. They finished 2nd in the Rugby Championship that year, with a 3-3 record and went 2 from 2 on the end of year tour, ending the year with a 50% win rate for Erasmus.

Fast forward to today and the Springboks are World Champions. Before the game, many (especially in the other hemisphere) didn’t really give them much of a shot at beating England. But before the tournament even started, a South Africa v New Zealand final was expected, so we all know they had the potential. 611 days, or 20 months sounds like a long time, but when that is how long a coach has to prepare for a World Cup I’m sure it goes by pretty fast. Erasmus, in that short period of time, took a team that was ok and made them a Champion team.

Springboks Captain Siya Kolisi and Coach Rassie Erasmus

Springboks Captain Siya Kolisi and Coach Rassie Erasmus

Social Media at the World Cup

There have been some outstanding efforts on social media during the World Cup. Some of my favourites have come from the Rugby World Cup twitter account.

Thank You

So that’s it from us. Just a quick final note to say thank you to those who have trudged through our opinionated ramblings this year – you’ve done well to hang in this long! We always appreciate the feedback and like seeing the discussions that pop up. As we do every year, we will wait until next year to see if we will continue with the Top 5 in 2020, and as we also do every year will almost certainly be back. It’s only a short break this time, so we will catch you in around 11 weeks with all the excitement of a new Super Rugby season, a new Wallabies era and a new, overly positive attitude and belief that the Wallabies will win the next World Cup!

  • HK Red

    Mr and Mrs MST, thanks for your efforts this year, very much appreciated.

    We may not always agree with you, but the down-to-earth approach, the humour, the analysis, make the Tuesday Top-5 an enjoyable read, and we thank you for your work.

    • MST

      Thanks HK Red. It’s good to hear that people do enjoy it.

  • Who?

    Thanks for the year MST’s.
    I’m like you – I did have some connections to a local club (I’m a life member), but it’s regional. I couldn’t care less about clubs in the major cities. But NRC, SR, then the Wallabies, they’re my connection to the game. Scrapping the NRC would be a massive mistake.
    And credit to the Manly president – takes guts to make that sort of an admission. Because half his club probably disagrees, and it’s unfashionable when you’ve got incompetent sycophants like Doran piling on. I don’t know that Christy’s come up with a decent story since he was drilled by Lachie Swinton at Tahs pre-season training – maybe he’s still feeling the effects..?

    • MST

      I believe that one of the confronting and uncomfortable realities that Rugby will need to deal with is that to grow the game you need to attract new supporters and that wont happen via local clubs. There is little connection or correlation between those who stand on the sideline at a local ground and those who sit in the stands at a Super Rugby game. If this was the case the Tahs crowds would be very healthy. In Canberra we see the club allegiance split due to the Vikings branding of the NRC team which still has kept the crowd numbers down but conversely the Brumbies are unilaterally supported.

      IMHO this breaks down to horse and cart argument. Without revenue grassroots will suffer. The cash cow is dependant on big games, big crowds, TV deals and sponsorships. The cash cow exists and lives in a different dimension to Club rugby.

      • Who?

        Totally agree with all that. Even the club model’s at risk. Studies into participation show people are less and less willing – and capable – of being part of a club. There’s a growing (and it’s been growing for most of the last decade) trend towards ‘pay to play’ engagement, where people come along to their chosen sport, pay a (higher) fee to participate, and then get lost. This is tied to the way that we’re always seemingly more time-poor each year than every prior generation (even though we now have faster, more reliable transport, and far better communication methods than could previously have been imagined).
        This is borne out in how hard it is to get anyone other than the die hards into the canteens at game days. How hard it is to find someone to mark the fields. Even to be a field marshal. Clubs can thrive if they adapt, but it’s going to mean higher costs, and reimbursing volunteers for their efforts. Which is hard to push through club committees, when you’ve generations of people who say, “Well, I was at the club 3 afternoons a week and both days on the weekend when I was involved…”
        The level of involvement required to be part of a club means that it’s never the primary driver for recruitment. What you see on TV is the driver. Locally, I’ve met a few families who moved up from Victoria, and their kids have wanted to play ‘Rugby’, so they’ve joined a Rugby club. Only to regret it and realize that their kids meant League, where their school mates are playing. They’re about the only families I’ve seen who join Rugby via a club, and, depending on the politics and inclusive (or otherwise) nature of that club, they may or may not stick around. Clubs are great things, but they can become exclusive, and that hurts the game.
        Far better to rely on having a great public product than hoping that people will get along with the locals at their club. It’s a better chance you’ll put up with the locals if you already like the game.

        • MST

          Absolutely spot on and well said!

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    With RA track record of getting decisions wrong I have little hope for the NRC to survive. Ir will be another dumb decision driven by NSW to the detriment of the rest of Australia.

  • Happyman

    Thanks for the year MST

    Must read on a Tuesday morning. While I don’t always agree with what you say it is always worth a perspective that is different to mine. Hope you saddle up for next year have a great Christmas.

    • MST

      Thanks Happy man. Thats the best part of GAGR IMHO. All the different views and the opportunity to discuss them.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thank you MST. Love the Tuesday Top 5 it’s always one of my favourite articles. Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope you all have a safe and fun break and I look forward to catching you again next year

    • MST

      Always look forward to reading your comments KRL.

  • juswal

    Thanks and Merry Christmas, MSTs.

    • MST


  • John Tynan

    Thanks MST’s! TT5 is one of my GAGR highlights, and always a great read.
    Have a well deserved break, and see you next year when the Reds are kicking the @rses of your Brumbies!

    • MST

      It’s always good to have a fantasy! Thanks JT.

  • laurence king

    Thanks mate, always enjoy reading what you have to say. I read the Doran piece the other day, don’t think that it would fly. Love the NRC, and as an ex NSWelshman I would love to see Sydney embrace it.
    Are there any benefits that accrue to Sydney clubs in getting behind the NRC? Because if there aren’t any, then I can understand the reluctance.

    • Who?

      Nothing direct, but if you’ve had half your team playing NRC, getting extra high-level coaching and facing stronger opposition, that’s got to help you next Shute season…

      • laurence king

        That’s a compelling reason, but, if it’s the strongest couple of teams benefiting most and the others feel that they will be left behind, better off not changing anything, ‘the scorpion and the turtle’ comes to mind. I’m not proposing that, mind.

        • Who?

          It’s a real opportunity for the weaker clubs at present, because it’s not like the stronger teams are taking advantage of the opportunity at present.
          But self interest – trying to maintain power in the status quo – is such a killer… When real self interest would act in an entirely opposite manner.

        • laurence king

          So maybe presenting something that clubs could buy into as it were, ‘get in first’ and see the benefit, e.g. these games could be played at your home ground etc..

  • Reinforce

    Tuesday Top 5 is my favourite read of the week of any publication, anywhere – being in WA I can sometimes get a read at midnight on Monday night.
    RE: NRC – I love the Force, I have an old Uni Mate’s sons (2) from Queensland coming through the Force pathway. The final was a great game. Tight first half, fast. Yes, blew out at the end but great for WA rugby. Its good for Oz rugby. Tried to imagine the national club comp but on balance it didn’t entirely do it for me (even being an old GPS boy from Bris).
    Thanks again MSTs.

  • Andy

    Well done mate. Excellent read again.

  • Patrick

    Thanks MSTs!


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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