Thursday’s Rugby News has us (finally) see the senate report handed down, more on the Wallaby chat, a description on the RWC selection, and the Brumbies relaunching their rugby academy.
The Senate hands down its report (finally)
Finally, after all the talk from the Senate, we finally have a report which cronicles the findings made from it’s meetings with Bill Pulver, Cameron Clyne and more. And to put it simply, there was plenty to talk about.
The report highlighted eight major recommendations by which the game could be fixed, ranging from an ASIC review to new structures on player welfare. The report also took particular interest in the saga relating to the sale of the Rebels, finding that the removal of the Western Force would only be a short term solution to the governing body’s financial woes. Annoyingly, long term, there would still be more financial turmoil down the road.
“The committee understands that removing a Super Rugby team will provide the ARU with short term financial relief. However, ending the Western Force will not reverse the long term structural decline in the game’s finances,” the report reads, as published on rugby.com.au.
“The ARU acknowledges that all of Australia’s remaining Super Rugby teams have experienced financial difficulty.
“Even with the removal of the Western Force, the ARU does not have the capacity to continue to be the lender of last resort to four Super Rugby teams indefinitely.
“The decision to remove a Super Rugby team necessarily comes at the expense of developing greater home grown talent and maintaining a national rugby footprint.”
The report also concluded, in a frankly damning section, that the ARU has shown little regard for player welfare in regards to this whole debacle.
“The committee considers that the ARU showed little regard for player welfare,” the report said.
“Minister Murray and representatives of RUPA both expressed concern about the effect that the decision would have had on the players’ mental health.
“To ensure that players in similar circumstances are better provided for, the committee is of the view that greater oversight and consideration from both the Australian Sports Commission and National Sporting Organisations for player welfare is essential.”
The eight recommendations are listed below:
1. The committee recommends that the Australian Sports Commission consider an additional principle to be introduced in the Commission’s Sports Governance Principles in relation to National Sporting Organisations’ commitment and duty to player welfare.
2. That Australian Rugby Union immediately transfer all intellectual property and trademarks associated with the Western Force to RugbyWA.
3. That the Western Australian Government review evidence to the committee in relation to the process used to eliminate Western Force from the national Super Rugby competition and seek further legal advice on what assurances were provided to them by Australian Rugby Union and in particular the Australian Rugby Union negotiations with both the Victorian and Western Australian Governments which informed the good faith investment decisions by the Western Australian Government on behalf of Western Australian taxpayers.
4. That the Australian Securities and Investments Commission review the evidence received by the committee regarding transactions involving the Melbourne Rebels.
5. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission review the financial circumstances reported in the Australian Rugby Union’s annual reports against the evidence presented to the committee.
6. The Australian Rugby Union consider implementing measures outside of state based bodies which ensure the involvement and engagement with grassroots rugby union supporters, particularly in relation to consultation in decision making processes that concern significant change to the nature and future direction of the sport.
7. The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government examine the structure of sporting organisations in Australia with a view to maximising community involvement, and increasing the accountability and transparency of organisations that bear the custodianship of a sport.
8. That the Commonwealth Government undertake a review of world’s best practice sporting policies in relation to sports funding and performance measures.
For the full 54 report (which I strongly recommend you have a read of), click here.
Old and New
The Wallabies have travelled down the road to London, and ahead of the England game this weekend have been greeted by some exciting new faces.
The most notable is, unsurprisingly, the Tongan Thor, who could be set to make his debut for the Wallabies this weekend.
“As a young boy coming out of school you get excited because (the media attention), it’s not normal,” Tupou told foxsports.com.au.
“There was a reason why I moved here [to Australia].
“As a young boy from Tonga all I wanted to do was play for Australia.
“If I get the chance to put on the jersey over the next couple of weeks I wouldn’t know what to say.
“I’d be so excited. I’ll probably cry. But if I can’t, I’ll just bide my time.
“Obviously I’ve got a lot of work to do, in the scrum particularly.
“But I think I can do it and in a few years time I want to be the starting front-rower for Australia and want to be the best.”
Tupou has learnt the hard way to not get too ahead of himself of the social media side of things, but he admitted that having time among older players has taught him to really pull his head in and focus on his own game. He made particular mention of Radike Samo and Quade Cooper, whom he considers his biggest heroes.
While Tupou is close to making his maiden debut, at the other end of the spectrum, test veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau has also gone on record that he is still setting his sights on 2019, despite signing for Leicester Tigers next year. The hooker is above the sixty test minimum, allowing him to make a return to the game in the international test window.
“I’ve got to take it game by game,” Polota-Nau said to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’m a bit like Steve [Moore], it’s definitely starting to take a toll on this body. In saying that, if I keep performing, then most definitely [play the World Cup].
“I still personally feel like I’ve got a lot of room to improve. At the end of the day, what is prominent is just trying to make sure that I continue my form from the Test series into the English Premiership, so hopefully he [Cheika] does give me that call.
“The move to the Force was great, it’s such a shame that I couldn’t stay there longer but I guess the next challenge is to come test it up in the northern hemisphere where it might be a bit slow from what I hear from a couple of friends. I guess you never know until you experience it.”
But Taf added one big word of encouragement:
“I have no doubt that the future of Super Rugby in the hooking department is well-covered.
“I’m really excited to watch from afar the likes of Jordan [Uelese], Alex Mafi, Andrew Ready and Tolu [Latu].”
The Wallabies squad will be named tomorrow.
Time to vote
At the time of publishing late on Wednesday night, the Rugby World Cup hasn’t yet been announced, so we thought we’d highlight the decision making process for you.
There are 39 votes to be cast, with each vote representative and indicative of the major rugby nations of the world. In addition, there could be a result of a majority winner (twenty votes), two nations tied with the most votes, or a three-way tie.
If there is no majority winner but two nations tied, the voting will go to a second round, where the winner is officially named from a majority voting.
Here’s the voting allocation, courtesy of Fox Sports:
Australia (3), England (3), New Zealand (3), Scotland (3), Wales (3), Italy (3), Argentina (3), Japan (2), Canada (1), Georgia (1), Romania (1), USA (1), Asia Rugby (2), Oceania Rugby (2), Rugby Africa (2), Rugby Americas North (2), Rugby Europe (2), South America Rugby (2).
By the time you read this, it is expected we will finally know who will be hosting Bill in 2023.
UPDATE: France will officially be hosting the 2023 World Cup. The voting went a little something like this:
Voting Round one: France 18, Ireland 8, South Africa 13 (Ireland eliminated)
Voting Round two: France 24, South Africa 15
Breaking in the Colts
The Brumbies have announced a major shake up down in Canberra, as they plan to relaunch their rugby academy in an attempt to blood their next Super Rugby stars.
The academy has been in hiatus for about six years, but with changes to the elite Under-20s program, executive Damien Hill thought it was about high time it be brought back.
“The academy exists primarily as part of the succession strategy for the playing squad,” he said to The Canberra Times.
“The program we’ve put together is specific for the ACT. We’ve got a few advantages in regards to our proximity to the [high-performance] group – it’s a smaller area to service so we can really do something special.
“It’s been missing here, with the under-20s program being changed to an under-19s program there’s now an age gap we need to fill.
“Pat McCabe, Tommy Cusack, Sam Carter, they all came through programs like this. It’s been proven in the past that it works.”
According to Academy Coach Daniel Hooper, the academy will initially be a training squad, with the bast players graduating up the ranks into the Brumbies squad.
“We want to develop local players as much as possible, but there’ll still be some players that come from out of the region,” Hooper said.
“Maybe the academy provides a bit of a carrot to get those players down here.”
A notable inclusion is Will Goddard, who (after a standout year for ACT Schoolboys), turned down an offer to play for the Chiefs, choosing instead to join the academy and push for Brumby selection.
“It’s quite a promising opportunity and one that’s very exciting, so I definitely can stay in Canberra now long term,” Goddard said.
“The Brumbies are a successful club … you look at the names of some of the people they’ve produced – Matt Guteau, Matt Toomua – some of the world’s best. Definitely look to follow in their footsteps.”
Academy squad: Angus Allen (backrow), Will Goddard (flyhalf), Byron Hollingworth-Dessent (wing), Len Ikitau (centre), Harry Lloyd (prop), Noah Lolesio (centre), Langi Lolotonga (backrow), Lachlan Lonergan (hooker), Liam Rasch (lock/backrow), Tom Ross (prop), Seamus Smith (scrumhalf).