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Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s rugby news has Bill Pulver disappointed with some former Wallabies, Brumbies sign Lolo Fakaosilea, Sean McMahon happy to play anywhere and Toulon to be sold.


Pulver Disappointed

ARU CEO Bill Pulver says he’s disappointed that a number of former Wallabies have openly criticised the ARU and particularly their support of grassroots rugby.

Former Wallaby Brett Papworth has written a letter addressed to the ARU board addressing a lack of community support and urged as many former Test players as possible to co-sign.

“Brett’s put a few stories out of that ilk over the last couple of years,” he said.

“I’m surprised and a little disappointed there’s a raft of Wallabies that have signed up.”

“He underestimates the amount of investment we put there and I’m trying to correct that.

“In many ways the spirit of what he’s saying is right, I wish he’d come and see us about the issues rather than doing it via the media but it is what it is.

“We’ve invited him for a lot of opportunities to come in here and have this dialogue – I have personally, as has the chairman of the ARU or whatever reason he would prefer to voice his opinion from afar.

“I would love to engage with the community, where our strategy is wrong, tell us what’s wrong and let’s work on fixing it.”

Brumbies Sign Fakaosilea

The Brumbies have announced that they have signed former Australian U20’s representative Lolo Fakaosilea on a two year deal.

Fakaosilea made his Super Rugby debut for the Queensland Reds in 2015 and will bolster the Brumbies backrow stocks after losing Ita Vaea and David Pocock for 2015.

“Lolo is one of those players we’ve had our eyes on for a while,” Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said.

“It’s no secret that he’s a hard-hitter, but it’s his other skills that will make him a strong addition to our squad.

“He’s had a taste of Super Rugby and we are very pleased he will be joining us for the 2017 season.”

McMahon Happy Anywhere

Sean McMahon says he is happy to play anywhere in the Wallabies backrow as he works his way back from injury.

Cheika wants McMahon to make number 8 his own as David Pocock takes a sabbatical next year.

“He’s kind of said continue to build all those areas but to really focus on that because I haven’t had a lot of work in the eight area, especially back in the Super club or here [in the Wallabies],” he said.

“It’s really just training that I’m getting the knowledge that’s needed to learn that position.

“I just keep trying to build it here and if Cheik continues to give me the opportunities in that spot then I’m just going to have to take them.”

Toulon to be Sold

Toulon’s owner Mourad Boudjellal is in advanced talk with a film producer and a lawyer to buy Toulon.

Boudjellal said in September he wanted “another life” and wondered why “he takes hits every week”.

“There is a strong chance that this will be my last year.

“I do not have a huge fortune but it’s reasonable. I am much depleted by the club and I don’t know if many presidents do this.”

The reported 10 million euro deal could be finalised very soon according to lawyer Lucien Simon.

  • Hey Bill, ya dick! I’m disappointed every time I see AFL Qld, football australia and even touch football qld run coaching sessions most days of the week in the school i work in while our kids have to pay $$$ to play, and while the popularity of these sports continues to thrive. I’m disappointed the ARU isnt doing more to attract a wider demographic. Bill should just leave…

    • Rebels3

      We don’t have the money tho. I don’t understand how people continually call for investment, when there is $0 to invest with.

      I’m a big fan of grassroots rugby and I love the passion some of these past rugby players have but we continually hear them call out for grassroots investment and yet some part of me thinks they are actually calling out for Shute shield investment. Clubs like Sydney uni, randwick, etc are not what I call grassroots rugby. It’s the small clubs in western Sydney, dubbo, Gold Coast, north qld. It seems there is too many agendas for all involved and smells like the continual bashing of the aru (who are far from perfect) is coming from old boys of Shute shield clubs (who also dominate the media) as they are worried their competition that used to be the center of the universe (rugby within Australia) will continue to drop in significance.

      While I agree more needs to be done at a school level, like eliminating the elitist attitude the community has of our game, I can’t see what more could be done without heavy investment. Money we don’t have.

      Our biggest issue is super rugby and the fact that we have 35% of our content played at a horrendous hour of the night.

      The small amount of money that is available to be invested was allocated to the women’s 7s becoming fully professional and the nrc. Both I believe have been successful and will benefit the game in the long run. This Saturday for instance we have a live women’s test match, the bledisloe and a final in tamworth. What more do we expect from a cash strapped organization?

      • I agree we don’t have the money but this is NOT a new conversation. This has been the elephant in the room for a long time. How long have we heard the call for “grassroots rugby” investment and what has come of the responses? has the money that kids rego fees, gate takings etc been squandered? Unlike the AFL and football, we have seemingly not taken advantage of cash cows like world cups etc. the money needs to be invested in school students, and not just the privileged.

      • John Tynan

        +1. You hit most of my points, and probably said them better.

        • paul

          +2 And I would emphasis the biggest issue is the failure of Super rugby to gain a bigger share of the domestic market.
          Fix that and things will improve, but that may mean taking a step back before moving forward.
          Which sadly will not happen. so the status quo will remain

      • Tonald

        We do have money. We have lots of money, we are not spending it well though.

        We are subsidising private schools ffs. Paying for Shute Shield Competitions to be shown. Selling out for peanuts to participate in Super Rugby which has all-but killed the game here as a spectator sport. We’re paying contracts to players that we can’t afford and creating an artificial market for them.

        The game needs to go back to basics and in 10-20 years we would reap the rewards.

    • Seb V

      I like Bill, he’s trying hard, maybe he is failing but I think you can only do so much with limited resources, he really picked up the ARU in a bad spot and it will take time to turn it around.

      • Hes been in the job a while now. Still not a lot of change at school level that i have seen…

    • John Tynan

      There’s some good material from Spiro where he quotes John O’neill response to Papworth. Never thought I’d see the day when John Oneill made some sense.

      But Papworth’s letter shows a certain amount of naivete mixed up with his passion and disregards the link between high performance results (ie Wobs and SXV) and the financial health of the game.

      To go on and say that every mum and dad volunteer is feeling let down by the ARU is a gross overstatement and playing for the emotions.

      He makes a lot of heart string statements and throws a lot of mud, but doesn’t really offer an alternative vision besides wanting to get his “grassroots” Sydney club on the telly, and even then he’s not very clear on how to do any of that.

    • Sideshow

      I agree on the school’s thing. My son’s school (state school in qld) has regular visits from the AFL and Rugby League mobs running skills and games sessions. And guess what sport he plays? AFL. And guess which other one he wants to play? Rugby League. I can’t imagine this is a particularly expensive thing to do. While Union remains a private school sport, it will continue to remain the 4th football. End. Of. Story.

    • Unanimous

      Average AFL attendance has dropped from 35,000 to 30,000 over the last few years. The A league is not increasing in attendance, it relies on a few derby games to boost the average. No football is doing well in Australia.

  • John Tynan

    As Reds fan, the Brumbies snagging Lolo is a disappointment and while I know I’m not an objective observer, I do have a bias to bringing through young blokes rather than buying in experience. As much as he’s a legend of the game, I’d rather Smith went back to the Brumbies to finish his career (and probably tear us apart doing it) while the Reds developed a guy they identified and brought down from Central Qld.

    • TheMountain

      Caleb Timu looks pretty much like for like to Lolo though, at the rate you’re picking up backrowers he’s likely to never see game time

      • John Tynan

        Lolo’s just got that continuous history in rugby, while Timu’s got high performance exposure, it comes with a league background at a crucial part of his development.

        • TheMountain

          Something we just don’t have, proper development in the lower ranks

    • Seb V

      As a Brumbies fan I wish G.Smith came back too :(

  • Tonald

    The Carter story may be gone but drugs in rugby should not. Carter was always obviously innocent but the bigger story is the flagrant abuse of TUEs in sport, particularly in France.

    In most COUNTRIES playing rugby there are DOZENS of these granted in a YEAR. Racing had THREE within a WEEK.

    Carter was within the rules. The rules need to be, and will be, changed.

    • Seb V

      Nah I don’t think so, Some drugs on the banned list give the slightest “performance” enhancing effects, I know because I’ve taken them. Testosterone and steroids are on another level, but some of those little injury prevention drugs do very very little in performance enhancing. I’d actually like to see injury prevention drugs being given more leeway. Doing everything we can to prevent injuries, or healing injuries sooner is fine by me, as long as they aren’t abusing them with consistent use.

      • Pedro

        Nothing improves healing like anabolic steroids.

        • Missing Link

          Any relation to yugoslavian female weightlifting champion Anna Bolic?

      • Tonald

        Of course treating injuries and illnesses is fine (although see Sharapova for the abuse of this in some ways). There is way too much leeway.

        Performance enhancing loopholes aside, TUEs are also often used to mask injuries which can be hugely damaging to participants.

        I’m all for legitimate use of TUEs. it is being abused though

    • Missing Link

      Agreed, World Rugby should ban TUE’s.

      If you can’t front up to play then don’t – no grey area for any rugby player, clear line and if you cross it you get a free holiday.

      • Braveheart81

        Rugby accepts WADA guidelines which includes TUEs. There are lots of legitimate reasons why someone needs to take a drug that requires a TUE. For example, if you got rid of TUEs you’d be saying that any professional rugby player who is an asthmatic should quit the game.

        • Tonald

          I’m all for legimate TUEs.

        • Missing Link

          Thanks for your responses and yes, realistically you don’t want to stop players with legitimate ailments from getting access to medical assistance *however* when the whole system seems to be abused, what other options do you have other than a blanket ban on TUE’s?

          Perhaps lock down the TUE’s to only a certain few medicines that are proven to treat chronic illnesses, not aid recovery. Or put a time limit on things like corticosteroid injections ie. you can’t legitimately be recovering from a soft tissue injury for 4 years :)

        • Braveheart81

          Where is the evidence the whole system is being abused on a widescale basis?

        • Missing Link

          No evidence of abuse in Rugby, but it has come out in other sports particularly cycling.

          If it can be abused in cycling, it can be abused in any sport as far as I’m concerned.

        • Tonald

          Lots of players and coaches claim there is. Why wouldn’t there be abuse when there is in every other sport, with less injuries than rugby?

        • Tonald

          I don’t have the answers of course.

          Perhaps independent doctors reviewing these, or strict audits?

          In one of the British Isles countries last year there were 60 TUEs granted to registered rugby players at any level. Racing are dishing them out at a rate 150 per year and players are recovering from injuries in massive time.

          There is a medical duty of care to players. This will involve taking TUEs. And will involve not playing in some cases.

      • Tonald

        I don’t think they should ban them. People need to be treated for injuries and illnesses adequately.
        The problem is the system is being abused. Racing in particular are taking the **** with this. It’s dangerous.

        • Joy

          Sports organisations including WADA are on thin ice if they set out to interfere with the doctor patient relationship. If a patient rejects recommended medical treatment for serious injuries because of pressures applied by sporting and anti doping organisations then the latter will be primarily responsible less than acceptable outcomes. Hence TUEs. I see it as a really difficult area.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    It’s interesting to look at the rugby issues here in Australia compared to NZ and boy you are struggling. I know there’s a whole initiative to grow the sport and challenge the other three but I wonder if that’s actually realistic. The ARU can’t compete financially with AFL, NRL and whatever L soccer is so maybe it’s a battle that shouldn’t be fought. The way I see it is that any money they put in under the current budget isn’t going to be enough and it’s just throwing it away. Maybe the better plan is to put the money into those areas where rugby is strong to prevent the other “L’s” from gaining ground there and at least maintain what rugby currently has. Talking to a few mates around the country they see that there is little or no progression and that rugby is losing to the other codes even in the areas where it is strong now. A couple of them are predicting that rugby will fall a lot further before it starts coming back. Not good and not an easy problem to solve.

    • onlinesideline

      did you see the melbourne derby in soccer at etihad stadium few days ago ?
      full house, huge atmosphere – we have 3 massive sports all over us. Its like thats the real Australia and we follow this weird technical game with heaps of weird rules and occassional good moments which are few and far between – maybe they’re right.
      (unscrews whisky bottle and pours a little drink to think things over)

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I feel for you mate. Such a different atmosphere here that isn’t helped by some people who seem to care more about their state or their competition than they do about the national issues. I fear it’s going to continue for some time yet

      • Braveheart81

        The Melbourne and Sydney derbies are a bit of an exception rather than the rule for the A League. They attract huge crowds for those games but the average across all games in the comp is massively lower. Looking at those fixtures alone makes the A League look like it is in rude health but the reality in terms of overall crowd numbers and viewers is not nearly as positive.

        Soccer in Australia has such a different problem to deal with compared with rugby. They have a huge number of fans and players of the sport that don’t follow the game in Australia and the challenge for the FFA is to convert more of those to local fans.

        Rugby has very limited numbers of fans and participants who are better engaged with the game here and the goal for the ARU is to increase that number because it isn’t nearly enough.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I didn’t see it as I can’t stand that game. I live near Sydney Olympic Park and certainly see all the support the other codes get that isn’t there for rugby.

    • Tonald

      Biggest problem is that too many in Australian Rugby are happy with the status quo and for the game to remain this elitist niche sport. It’s even evident in the comments. Whatever the financial problems, they will always be bailed out.

  • Brendan Hume

    I still don’t understand what is being called for in this investment in grassroots rugby. The numbers that are being thrown around make no sense to me – what is the ARU’s $2.4M/$9.2M actually being spent on (as well as the money in the other Union’s mentioned in Papworth’s letter)? Is it the cost to run RugbyLink and set up the insurance scheme? Is it employment of DO’s? Is it paying for referees for schools competitions? I genuinely have to idea.

    If it costs a million a year to put Shute Shield and Qld Prem Rugby on TV, it’s probably not a horrible investment. You’d hope it increases sponsorship $ for those clubs, and those semi-pro comps continue to support the development of players into the future.

    Many thanks must go to Boudjellal for Toulon. They’ve been a bizzare beast, but the team lists that they have managed to produce are the envy of Fantasy Rugby players the world over.

  • Tonald

    There is no short term fix for the lack of money. It’s a long term problem that may involve taking a few steps back. Those steps should involve abandoning Super Rugby and also focusing on an Auskick type programme and rebuild the game organically

    • Braveheart81

      And if that destroys the professional game in Australia where do we go then?

      • Tonald

        It has a sustainable professional game.

        If we hypothesise about destroying the professional game, bigger concern is persisting as we are now.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I don’t get where a sustainable professional game is outside of super rugby. It needs games, sponsorship, crowds and a competition. Where is this or are you proposing a new structure?

        • Rebels3

          Agreed, the only other viable option I can see is through inclusion of nz to make an Anz competition. But that would require the nzru to be a willing participant, something that isn’t of interest to them atm.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          The thing is I don’t see the local competition of NZ/Aus big enough to gain the sponsorship needed to be a viable professional league. There is so much pressure now from Europe and others that if we reduced wages and funding any further all that would happen is more players would go off shore earlier. I think Super Rugby is the answer but I just don’t think the way it is run at the moment helps. Personally I’d rather see two tiers and a promotion/relegation just before the semis and finals of Tier 1. I think that would keep the interest up especially if the tier 1 was a home and away competition so supporters could see more home games

    • SuckerForRed

      Abandoning Super Rugby is not the answer. This would mean that there is no truly professional level of the sport in Australia. And if we think the Wallabies are stuggling now at 3rd in the world where do you reckon we will end up once NRL, AFL, scoccer, Europe, SA, Japan, USA and tiddly winks works out that the talent pool is there and they don’t have to compete at all?

      • Tonald

        Abandon Super Rugby, not professional rugby.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Super Rugby is the only viable professional rugby at the moment. There is nothing else that has the ability to bring in the funds needed to make it sustainable

  • Qwas

    Agreed. He’s not perfect, but he at least hasn’t left rugby and taken a huge sum of cash with him unlike some

  • “Probably”… there is no money in school rugby programmes. If there is, who knows where it is? I have not seen any influence in any of the schools i have seen. (Except gps)

  • Sideshow

    They do I think, but nowhere near as comprehensibly as the other codes. All my son’s mates play either AFL, League, or soccer. I don’t know of any that play Union, and it never comes up in conversations. There might be a brief conversation with other parents after a Wallabies match. And my son got all excited after I took him to the England game and bought him a beenie and a scarf and wore them around for a few weeks. And when showing them off to his mates he mostly got blank stares. Most kids in his school hardly even know the game exists.

  • paul

    Except there about 10 times more visible

  • Chinese Dave

    Spot on, I think a couple of years ago, the A-League had the 7th best avg crowd per soccer game in the world. Rugby simply can’t compete with that right now, I doubt it ever will.

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@Hughadams01

Wallabies, Waratahs and Northern Suburbs supporter. Twitter: @Hughadams01

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