The Wallabies are not rugby in Australia - Green and Gold Rugby

The Wallabies are not rugby in Australia

The Wallabies are not rugby in Australia

Rugby has been a major part of my life ever since it was introduced to me at high school.  But events this week have brought me to a point where I am questioning where my interest will be in the future.  The actions at the top of the tree, so to speak, have left me with an array of feelings: anger, resentment, frustration, embarrassment, disillusionment.

During the 90s and early 2000s rugby in Australia was at a peak.  We had won 2 World Cups, successfully staged a World Cup ourselves and the Wallaby ‘brand’ was something to be proud of.  We matched it with the All Blacks year after year and played a style of rugby that entertained even the non-rugby folk in the competitive Australian sporting market.  But over the last 15 years it has been in decline to a point where it now feels it is almost in free-fall.  You’re almost embarrassed to admit to being a rugby follower now in Australia and feel helpless trying to defend it.

But over the last couple of days I have found myself trying to make sense of it all and considering what the future of rugby will be in this country.  Here are some of my thoughts:

The Wallabies are not rugby in Australia.  Rugby in Australia are all the boys and girls running around early on a wintry weekend morning.  The dew-sweepers, whose playing fields are marked with cones and surrounded with excitable parents.  The kids who dream of one day playing for Australia but for now just love running around with their mates.

Henry Speight signs some mini-footballs for the Alleygators juniors

Henry Speight signs some mini-footballs for the Alleygators juniors

The Wallabies are not rugby in Australia.  Rugby in Australia are all the Uni students whose dreams of representing the Wallabies are rapidly disappearing but continue to play for the chance to relive the highlights of each game every Saturday night with their mates over a beer.

The Wallabies are not rugby in Australia.  Rugby in Australia are all the men and women in the small country towns who are happy to drive for hours every weekend just to get a game.  They don’t have a high-performance unit behind them and are often battling with drought and other complications of living in rural Australia, but rugby is their escape from the realities and so much more.

The Wallabies are not rugby in Australia.  Rugby in Australia are all the men and women who would give anything to be able to strap on the boots one more time.  To relive that feeling of being put into a gap or putting one last shot on an opponent.  The men and women who catch up every year to celebrate past premierships or just to relive the hay day of their youth.

The Wallabies are not rugby in Australia.  Rugby in Australia are all the volunteers at grassroots.  The line markers, the canteen supervisors, the coaches, the managers, the water runners, the jersey washers and of course the referees.  All the people that keep the rugby clubs and competitions around Australia ticking so that thousands of boys, girls, men and women can get a game every weekend.

Rugby in Australia are all these people.  The people that play their part without remuneration.  No mega contracts or match bonuses to be seen.  They do it because they want to be a part of something, to feel part of a community.  They do it because they love the game & they know what it can offer.  The feelings, the emotions, the rewards, the memories, the intangibles.

UQ v GPS QPR Club Rugby at Ballymore (Credit Brendan Hertel QRU)

Club Rugby at Ballymore (Credit Brendan Hertel / QRU)

None of these people will ever get to play in front of massive crowds, they won’t have sponsors chasing them, they won’t have massive Instagram followings or YouTube highlight reels but they turn up week after week, season after season to be a part of their local rugby club & part of something much bigger.

Rugby, like all sports, is something much bigger than just 1 player or 1 team.  The lucky few may get to don a Gold jersey but for every Wallaby great there are dozens of club stalwarts who make the game tick all around the country.

Captaining your country is a great achievement but just because you were good on the field should not give you a louder voice at the table.  Just as rugby is a game for all different makes & builds on the field so it is off it: the local copper, the lawyer, the tradie, the nurse, the landscaper, the accountant, the teacher.  Despite misconceived perceptions it’s a game that welcomes all regardless of background, colour, race or gender and as such the decision making of the game should not be restricted to a limited elite.

Obviously ex-Wallaby captains can make a strong contribution to the game going forward but it’s important that those who are at the heart of rugby in this country are also given a voice……..and perhaps those at the top remember their own journey through the game.

  • paul

    The Wallabies should be the pinnacle of the game here, they are the cream on the desert. Something special.

    The issue in Australia has always been trying to operate a code through one team, the game is drowning holding the Wallabies up.

    They turned Wallaby gold into Pizza & a Six Pack.

    Without letting the game breath below the Wallabies, the game has slowly suffocated under its weight, everything was sacrificed and every dollar spent on the hope that a few spare cents are thrown down to the masses.

    Those Wallaby captains and Castle were just a symptom of that structure slowly collapsing.

    Without a genuine domestic presence to take the game to the masses and grow it however slowly, then nothing is going to change.

    • onlinesideline

      yep been saying for years – can the Super rugby completely and make an NRL for rugby. Let the superstars go to Europe – they’ll come back because this is home and when they see the comp do well, with big crowds and tribalism returning played at smaller stadiums – rugby will flourish. FTA will be falling over themselves to get access after 2-3 years. Kids from north queensland to the bush to WA (dare I say it) will all have access and new superstars will be born. Wages will drop maybe even standards, but matches will be well fought, steak sandwiches will return, arvo footy will be back and saturday night pub crawls will live again. With a stomach fool of beef and beer, a days sunshine under ones belt and a new chicks number to send you off to sleep with (or even better) this formulae will save rugby.

      • Huw Tindall

        I’m sold!

  • David Creagh

    Great words. As a player I was never much chop, playing subbies most of my career but I turned up because I loved the game. When I got the opportunity to put the boots on again to play Veterans Rugby it brought back all the good feelings and memories from my playing days; the laughs and the sledges before the game, beers with your mates and telling stories after the game, the cameraderie, the knowledge if you were in trouble your mates will be there. Now as a significantly broken player my ability to get onto the paddock is a cameo at best but as a coach I have the same feeling about my ability to contribute to my club and my players.

    It saddens me to see the vast majority of the subs that come into the club go to RU to pay players and staff and that we seem to get little back for it. Yet every year we see new players turning up just keen to have a run in lower grades, these are the guys that make a club, are there as injury cover for higher grades and try their best. Don’t get me wrong I love the guys in the higher grades who put in all the effort and commitment to their trade, I am sure they play just as much for the love of the game but grass roots, the kids, the parents, the club officials and the referees, that’s what it is about.

    • Hear, hear

      I love watching those with the ability play at the top tier, but I played until a bad back meant I couldn’t. I never played at any significant level, I represented my school because I was tall and fast, not because I was particularly good.

      I don’t coach, I didn’t play long enough before injuries (ironically earned sailing, not playing rugby) stopped me although I might make a wicked video analyst these days.

      Those elites might be what we aspire to as kids, I know I did, but they’re not the owners of the game, they’re far from the totality of the game. But they’re also far from who they were, when they were play touch rugby or mini rugby or whatever started them off down the road to stardom and riches. It looks like quite a few of them have forgotten that. Not all, but quite a few.

      • John Tynan

        Second the video analyst EP, always well – insightful – reading your insight.

      • idiot savant

        They are the owners off the game. Thats the lesson they are teaching us.

        • Disagree. If RA goes bankrupt, the Wallabies and the SR teams disappear in a puff of embarrassed debt, the elites will not be the ones putting their hands in their pockets to bail it out. After the way they’ve treated him, I doubt Twiggy will, but he just might, he’s got both the money and the love of the game, and in that situation he could walk in and throw everyone else out for gross financial incompetence without anyone batting an eyelid. I’m not saying that’s the optimal solution, not sure it’s a good one even, but it’s a solution and the old boys would be out of the loop.

          However, if that crash comes, grass roots rugby will not disappear. Kids and adults who admired those elites will just look elsewhere, or at video, and say “Look at him/her” still and play regardless. They’re the owners of the game.

          The elites might call themselves the owners, but that’s a mistake in terminology. They’re a power bloc in the current structures. But power structures can and do change, and former power blocs can find themselves in new situations. Look at, for example, the political press in the US right now, with a president that openly despises them and refuses to engage.

        • HK Red

          I’M gUEssInG ThEre’S sOMe sARcAsM iN tHErE?

        • KwAussie Rugby Lover

          Well they certainly think they are anyway. Pretty sad really and I’m saying that to temper my anger at their arrogance

      • Patrick

        I coached, first when I was 17(!) because someone asked me to. God knows any Tom Dick or Harry, let alone you, would have done at least as well but I loved it all the same.

        I love elite rugby but I also love grassroots, and the single biggest thing I’ve reproached RA for over the years is not emulating AFL’s “grow the base” strategy. Also why I don’t think RA can afford to not have a former AFL commissioner on the board.

    • Rebels3

      Great post but I will correct you on one thing. RA does not benefit from any player subs. The money gets sent to RA then redistributed back to the state unions. Which is where a lot of the criticisms need to be pointed at.

      • Who?

        Do you have a reference for that? It’s been a while since I saw current details, but when they first brought in RA subs (in 2014), part went to RA directly, part went to the State union, and part went to insurance. That was on top of the existing sub-union and club components of fees.

    • Brisneyland Local

      I played an Old Boys game a while ago, and it bought back great memories. But you left off one thing. I couldnt function for 4 days afterwards. My body was farked!! By god it hurt.

  • Andrew Luscombe

    The sport was governed democratically until the federal government pressured it to adopt a corporate governance model. It’s been downhill ever since. It’s actually scary how closely the demise corresponds with the change in governance.

    • RugbyReg

      thats a really interesting point Andrew, Can you remember when that was? Was that the Arbib Report?

      • ATrain

        The Arbib Report was completed in Oct 2012.

        It was titled “Strengthening the Governance of Australian Rugby”

        • Andrew Luscombe

          I’m not sure if it’s the structure, but it sure is a close correlation.

  • onlinesideline

    G’day fellas. I’m livered RC was pressured to resign. I thought she was approachable, relatable, took initiative, I liked where the Optus move was heading, secured a good looking coaching team for national side, seemed to be engineering change re pathways from schools, and local coaching development.

    The issue with “Not-Palestine” was extremely difficult. The fact that she signed a contract with him without the clause being properly stipulated, while strange, I don’t think, come a court case, was going to be a deal breaker or clincher. I think the law would have been decided on other factors and therefore she was put in the unenviable position, (even if she update his contract) of having to subject RA to a long, protracted and ultimately, either way, expensive case, that was shocking PR for the game and morale for the team too while it was happening. Point is, criticism leveled at her re this issue is pretty harsh. Even though I supported Izzy’s rights, it was an extremely unfortunate incident.

    Where I feel she made a FATAL mistake which in my opinion reflected on her overall capability as a CEO / leader of the code was with respect to NOT sacking Cheika at the end of the 2018 EOYT. Getting done by 50 points by Scotland, imploding like that, on top of a totally unacceptable win/loss ratio, over a 4 year period, was the beginning of her end for me. There was AMPLE time for a temp coach to work on a new team, rid the bad feelings, the bad strategies, bad selections and pick a new team with a tonne of great players that we DO have for the RWC. That was a massive failing and the letter from the captains ( I’m in no way condoning it) is really just a very dated response to that decision which ultimately resulted in a terrible world cup, a terrible pool match against Wales (hello Foley being selected at 12 – beyond words). Thus 2019 was the 5th year in a row of shocking Wallaby seasons. This sent the message that our national side and brand losing every important match in 5 years was basically acceptable. HUGE FAILURE on her part. That Christmas delay of the coaching review in 2018 was when I turned off rugby. I knew that was it for OZ rugby and while the black swan event of a virus has amplified it, it was inevitable non the less. You cant accept 5 years of constant huge losses without massive damage.

    What I don’t understand is the TIMING of the captains letter though. Why now in the middle of a global fricken plague ? What a time to start pointing fingers. I’m actually surprised RC resigned as it would have been very easy for her to say, “hey there is a plague affecting every human being and business on the planet” Very weird. If the captains think the lockdown is the optimal time and opportunity to rethink rugby, sorry but that is totally deluded. No-one in this present enviroment can think clearly enough to restructure a code, while people are dying by the hundred of thousands. The planet is faced with an existential threat that has people in shock and in survival mode at the most raw of levels. While I have viewed the term elbow patch brigade with a chuckle in the past, I can now see it is very real and more vested than I thought. RC was modern, approachable, very gutsy IMO and good for rugby.

    Ultimately though we had the players to go far in the RWC IMO and not sacking Cheika IMO was her biggest mistake and it sunk her in the end. Its a shame because I thought she was breath of fresh air. The captains letter / pressure for change like the article above suggests does indeed reflect whats wrong with the code. Can you imagine 6 or 7 previous Kangaroo captains trying to pull this stunt in League. Ive have always said we need a beligerent, street wise and street raised ocker of a corporate figure to run this code, to take on EXACTLY what just happened HEAD ON. Someone from Mt druitt who has a chip on their shoulder, but with a tonne of experience is what we need. The concept that we need a “rugby man” is part of the problem not the solution. Its a shame Raelene was probably too much of a lady at the end of the day. Thanks for giving it a good shot and all best.

    • Old boys networks, and lets be honest, that’s not just RA, that’s almost every national union and WR, are not generally keen on being approachable, malleable and they’re decided unhappy when exposed to a breath of fresh air.

      Personally, I’m inclined to agree with your analysis, I think that was her biggest mistake. I’m not convinced that’s why she felt she had to go though. There are plenty of adages about people in tricky jobs finding three envelopes in their draw when they start, giving advice about what to do, and the letter in the third one says “resign and write three letters to your successor.” I can’t help feeling as a woman and an outsider to rugby in Australia she basically opened the first two when she arrived. The letter from the captains was indicative that she’d lost the confidence not of them, but of the old boys and she’s shrewd enough to step down rather than fight when she’ll be defeated every time it comes to a vote. What CEO wants to try and run an organisation when the bulk of the board is against them?

      I think it’s a stupid, self-destructive move. But then RA has been in a stupid self-destructive place for at least 2 years, if not 3 now, with Cheika etc. With their finances and more.

      I’m not impressed by this one, but sadly I’m not surprised.

      • onlinesideline

        While Im no expert on board politics, maybe its reminder that she needed to get more people on board with her at board level to secure her position and prevent what just happened. Looks like a very taxing and tiring job and can understand her decision. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a picture of her standing around a “hangi” and getting back to basics.

    • idiot savant

      You’ve raIsed two issues that RC had to confront for which I don’t believe there was any solution. Folau and Cheika. For context, it is important to note that Cheika was and is idolised by a large cohort of New South Welshmen and that Folau was instrumental in delivering a premiership to the Tahs and was also considered by many to be the most dangerous weapon the Wallabies had. It seems that the majority of the RA board held this view. So it was uphill for Raelene all the way. I do not believe she would have survived either the sacking of Cheika or refusing to renew Folau’s contract.

      So politics being the art of the possible, she did what was politically possible. She asked Folau for a commitment not to vilify people and she brought in Scott Johnson to temper Cheika. Not checking Folau’s contract to ensure it had the appropriate clause before he signed it was a mistake. A mistake she admits to. Whether she asked someone in her employ to check and they failed to do so we will never know but fair enough the buck stops with her. The fact that Folau was not as good as his word and that he was hell bent (sic) on trashing the code that paid him a king’s ransom will forever be a stain on this character.

      She was dealt a losing hand. Its a tribute to her that she lasted so long really. And the manner in which the fulminators, the haters, the Cheika idolaters, the self entitled twats, and the 11 captains bullied and harassed her will forever be a stain on their characters.

      • Yowie

        NFOS – with no research into this, I formed the impression that there are standard player contracts (RUPA negotiated etc) and it’s a whole can of worms trying to change one. If anyone knows the scope for individual player changes and special conditions that would be interesting.

        Personally, I sympathise with a situation where a person gives their undertaking (but not specifically an [amendment to / renewal of] their Employment Contract to that effect) to not do any more of that exact thing which has caused a problem just now and the employer accepts that as “sorted” at the time.

        Most people walk away from most deals “satisfied but not 100% happy”. It’s a bit “retrospective armchair critic” to look back in hindsight and say “yeah, you should have made him crawl over broken glass and put up his house as security for any further breach of THAT particular type”. More “big stick” at the first meeting may have been counter-productive.

        If said employee is dead-set on repeating the behaviour (for whatever reason) then making a big media “I’m the victim, human rights, it’s the vibe, etc.” blow-up about it after they get sacked, the specificity of their employment contract Re said conduct would be probably just one factor among many.

      • onlinesideline

        Mate I genuinely think that the Cheika worship was all used up at the point when we were down 31-7 in Buenos Aires at half time when questions where raised by Nick whatchamacallit, “how do polish that turd?” and Kearns goes “something has to change”. They were all of the opinion he was out of his depth and I really think replacing him would have been backed by the “inner sanctum” at that stage, as well as by the wider support base. How could anyone back a 60 % loss rate ?

        • idiot savant

          I think the answer to that is that Nick McCardle was sacked for that comment. The ‘inner sanctum’ of the Fox boys showed him the door for criticising Cheik. Because after all it was that magnificent half time speech by Cheika which led to the turnaround.

        • onlinesideline

          Really ?? – if so that’s insane.

        • idiot savant

          From Rugby Pass interview with McArdle

          Q: I take you back to Salta, half-time between Australia and Argentina in the 2018 Rugby Championship and the Wallabies are down 31-7 after playing abysmally. You turn to your colleagues George Gregan and Phil Kearns and question, “How do you polish that turd?” Arguably one of your most forensic comments on a match because it was so authentic, so Australian and so true. Did that comment have any adverse effect on your relationship with staff at Rugby Australia, the Wallabies playing and or coaching group?

          A: That was one of the most stressful weeks of my life because, as many will know by now, I was stood down for the rest of the year over that comment. I, of course, would have preferred my in-built filter was working a little better that morning. It has often been suggested Michael Cheika had a hand in that disciplinary action. My information is that he didn’t. I have also since discussed the incident with Raelene Castle and she tells me she had no issue with comment and suggested it might well have been what many Australian rugby fans were thinking. I am happy to say it didn’t affect my relationship with RA in any way. It wasn’t exactly tasteful on a Sunday morning but I still believe it was a huge over-reaction.

        • onlinesideline

          Incredible and SAD. Well, they had their way and look where its got us.
          Oh how good it would be to have a beligerent Trump like eccentric to put them all in their place, smash the PC and tell the truth for what it is – that the stadiums are empty and Super rugby and the Wallabies are on the nose. But it wont happen. Kearns will go for this full throttle.

        • Parker

          Be careful what you wish for. No you don’t need such a person at all. You need a clearly articulated set of values and code of conduct that are implemented without fear or favour. Instead we have a lot of malleable guidance that is implemented selectively and with favoritism being the order of the day. You don’t replace a bunch of administrators possessing easy virtue and vague principles with an unpredictable maverick whose only way to do things is the one he came up with on the spur of the moment. No, you need consistency and zero tolerance for bull shit. You need transparent governance and precise standards of performance that are enforced. That’s what you need to disband the old boys’ club with its bankrupt values and failed ways of doing business.

        • Who?

          Not exactly, but close enough. Word was that Cheik heard about it, McArdle was sidelined from all important commentary jobs, and now he’s gone.

        • onlinesideline

          Yeah Cheik, leave Banks and Samu at home and put Foley at 12 in a RWC match with no experience at 12. So shrewd ! I cant even think about it.

        • Bobas

          Foley played 10 against Wales, not 12.

          Foley only played 12 when Quade was selected at 10

        • onlinesideline

          oh did he ? – well that didnt work either. At what point after 5 years of failure do you make changes. No words.

        • Nothing to do with the changes on the other side that made them play like headless loons?

        • Rugby Truth

          Don’t forget, Brendan Cannon was on the commentary panel, and he made some comments questioning cheika and hooper. after the match in question, he was never seen of again!

        • Patrick

          It woulda shoulda been but the NSW-mafia never let up on the Chieka love.

        • onlinesideline

          yeah – how are you mate – bunkered down in France still ?

    • Yowie

      “Can you imagine 6 or 7 previous Kangaroo captains trying to pull this stunt in League”

      Good question. By the law of averages I suppose at least one in six Loig boys would be literate.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Well written old boy!

    • Parker

      OLSL. I am glad to see you come out strongly for sacking Cheika prior to the WC. i was calling for it then, against the tide of commenters here saying it’s too close to the WC. I answered then that it’s never too late to improve, to no effect. Now we are seeing the bully boys demonstrate that there’s always another foot to shoot.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Well said OLSL. I remember you advocating for his sacking and the only thing I can think of is that RA just didn’t have the money to do that and hire someone else due to the way he’d managed to establish his contract. I would have liked to know if that was the reason but I guess we never really will

      • onlinesideline

        Mate I honestly think they actualy had the money, its just they were scared to part with it in what they thought was a tight situation cash wise. I always argued, its not easy to part with payout money, but look at the alternatives. ironically shes now the one who ultimately paid the price. If we had a better world cup, ie we beat wales and avoided the Poms and maybe go to the final, I dont think the letter would have eventuated. I also think she has had to absorb Super Rugbys failings at the end period of it 25 year run and the captains are taking that out on her. But Cheikas coaching selctions and the style the Wallabies played for 5 years was horrific – it has nearly destroyed rugby. That christmas coaching review delay announced in December 2018 was the pivotal moment I just went “its over”.

  • Hoss

    ‘Hello – Police. I want to report a viscous mugging.

    Where – Moore Park.

    There looks to 7 of them but one in particular is delivering the body blows.

    Others ? Yes, there’s 11, no wait 10 – one has walked away, the others are hiding behind the bushes sniggering and pointing and egging the sinful seven on.

    You need to hurry, i don’t know how much longer the victim can survive.

    My name ?? It’s Hoss, you mean the victims name – sorry, I can only see an outline, wait, i can see now. Oh my god. Its Rrr, Rrrr, Rugby…….

    Never mind the ambulance now, it’s too late, better send the coroner instead.’

  • StewedP

    Brilliant! You have hit the nail on the head. What a shame “the Wallabies” and those administering the game can’t appreciate your words and feelings.

  • Ads

    My smokey for Castle replacement is Kerry Chika. Female to appease the “castle was sacked only because she was a woman” lot, but blue enough to gel with Team Mosman. Experienced pollie, lawyer, supporter of women in sport, Sydney cricket grounds trust, waratahs, indigenous education etc. She has been around enough sports admin to have enough knowledge and is smart and ruthless (in a good way). Put me down for a pineapple on her.

    • ATrain

      Would she want a CEO job – a full time job with, as we have seen, a vigorous press involvement – 80 hour a week commitment.

      I think she would be more interested in a non-executive board position.

      • Ads

        I don’t know her so couldn’t answer that. If she did she would do a good job. I don’t think JON or Pulver had a particularly hard time of it for most of their tenures. She’s Sydney based etc etc…

  • Wallabrumby

    Very well said and I have forwarded this on already. I have been feeling the same for many years now, and ever since that letter was signed and sent to RA I have been waiting for someone to point this out.
    I have friends in there late 30s and 40s who still play in country NSW just because their small town and clubs might not be able to field a team if they dont put on the boots. I know 60 year old subbies coaches who haven’t been on a holiday in winter for years, because they are commit ed to coaching a 4th grade subbies team every year.
    I always think about all the very successful business minds out there who love rugby, grew up with rugby, used to bleed rugby on a saturday who would be capable of running Aus Rugby…its not a matter of looking outside the backyard, its understanding that the backyard is bloody big and we are all a part of it.

  • Reds Revival

    Good article Andrew. I think the Self Entitled 10 forgot who the game really belongs to. I was not surprised to hear that they didn’t actually have an action plan for how to fix the game, but who needs that when you can easily lob grenades at those actually doing the work…

    Everyone is saying the game needs to change, and now is the perfect time to do, but there seems to be a fair degree of silence and feet shuffling when asked what actually are the plans or ideas. So at the risk of alienating myself, I am going to try to be a part of the solution and make some wild suggestions about what can and what should change.
    Firstly, and this is not in order of priority, but the image at the top of the article has reminded me, can we get rid of kids holding hands with players when running out on to the field? FFS, that is a soccer tradition that just doesn’t work in Rugby (I have heard some say that it is the only time that professional soccer players get to meet and spend time with their illegitimate children). I get that we want kids involved in the game day experience, but surely the mini games at half time are enough. Who doesn’t love cheering on the kids at half time.
    2. While I love us playing the Saffas, the time zones are not conducive to watching the game – sorry guys. I think Twiggy has got it right in trying to develop the game in Asia Pacific. While it might not deliver the standard that we want straight away, it’s better that we start now so that the standard improves in years to come.
    3. Improve the game day experience. The grounds the Super Rugby teams play at are too big, and so there is no atmosphere. Get a full house at Ballymore, or even Brookvale, and it makes the game more enjoyable to watch live, and on TV.
    4. State Unions need to be more accountable for the grassroots numbers. Under the current structure, they are responsible for grassroots rugby, not RA. They should be putting financial incentives in place for clubs who are able to grow their player numbers. They should also be investing in Development Officers, as these two tactics will work in combination to help grow the game.
    5. Bring WA back into Australian Rugby. They never should have been let go in the first place. Now is the chance to right that wrong and make it a national sport again.
    6. Even if only on a short term basis, get fringe Super Rugby/NRC players to train and play with the minor states/regions (SA, Tas, NT, Qld and NSW Country) to help lift the standard and teach them what is expected. Limit the number per team, so that there is still development of their home grown talent.
    7. Incentivise performance across the sport, from the Wallabies to club rugby. There is a reason why businesses offer bonuses, because they work. let’s apply the same philosophy to our sport. The Wallabies should get paid more for a win than a loss.
    8. Scrum clock. This is something that Twiggy definitely got right. Everyone knows that a team is rorting the system when they collapse the scrum towards the end of a game, but the system allows it, so remove the opportunity.

    While not exhaustive, at least its a starting point. No need to shoot holes in my suggestions, I already realise that they are there. It was more to share ideas and create new ones.

  • LBJ

    I think this is terrific – and my understanding it that this is precisely what the captains are arguing for.
    The inverted pyramid strategy developed by Pulver under Clyne (in a very clear and well drafted strategy document that still exists) and inherited by Castle (she never updated the strategy despite it expiring last year), was based on the NZ model where every single activity (and all funding) is geared toward the national team’s success, with Super Rugby being the tier 2 feeder, then a third tier is needed to feed the second tier (NRC), and then a representative framework for age groups, then schools. There are also structures for Sevens to be funded of course – but the most important concept is to have complete control and separation from the amateur game (grassroots).
    All this makes sense if your sole purpose is to find/ create the best professional players to win internationals and make more money for the professional level of the game that the national body controls.
    What the inverted pyramid also does however, is disconnect from grassroots – because there is nothing left in terms of funding, and all recognition must go to the national body – note the schoolboys last year (its not as if the ARU weren’t involved – but no credit at all went to the clubs and schools that predominantly developed those boys). .
    We should all recall Pulver saying he wouldn’t give a cent to grassroots because they will just piss it up against the wall, nor Castle saying she wished she had some money to fund the grassroots, ‘but i just don’t’ (of course she did in a literal sense, but she decided to spend it elsewhere – which is not a criticism, just a reality – that was her decision which aligned with the inverted pyramid strategy).
    I disagree with the inverted strategy (always have) for rugby in Australia – because our strength (diminishing) lies in our communities – where we have presence and heritage, but it is severely stretched. The growth of the Shute Shield in the past few year is a direct rejection to the inverted pyramid strategy – people want to connect with each other around the footy.
    This is where AFL has stolen a march on Rugby in Aus – their CEO upon starting in the role was quoted as saying they are solely focused on building strong AFL centred communities – “everything else will flow from the communities”.
    Rugby has flourished for a long time on the community focused philosophy – whoever takes the reigns as next ARU CEO and Chair MUST bring that ethos back into the centre of what we are all about.
    The Wallabies need to return to being our representatives, not our masters.

  • Parker

    Well said Andrew.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Well said Andrew, I think some of the people at the top have forgotten about this and while they talk about grass roots rugby, I have actually lost faith in them believing that and see only a group of self entitled people who think it is still all about them. I may have got it wrong but that’s how it appears to me

  • disqus_NMX

    Public schools are also not rugby in Australia. And thus why rugby is in terminal decline as AFL, NRL, and soccer, leave rubgy for dead.

    Wondering why rugby is dying, is like wondering why polo isn’t a mainstream sport.

    It won’t change, as even most of the thoughtful readers of this site can’t see the obvious truth in it. The rugby die hards from all sides of this debate can’t stomach the idea of pouring money into bogan schools, and don’t understand that the bogans is where the TV ratings are driven, and thus where the money comes from. They/you all squabble over the spilled chips, ignoring the potato farm as it is sold off to other buyers.

    RIP rugby.

  • Patrick

    And boy these mugs can expect to be held accountable.

  • Ads

    Matt Carroll lol


Will always contend that sea-gulling creates overlaps.

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