Wednesday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News sees Larkham fire the first shots against Argentina and old mate Ledesma, Castle fire back at clubland critics, the World Cup set for expansion and Samu looking forward to his future in Gold

Bernie’s got banter as Wallabies regain troops

Stephen Larkham

Ahead of the Wallabies vs Argentina clash on Saturday, assistant coach Stephen Larkham has fired off the first shots against former colleague and Argentinian head coach Mario Ledesma.

The clash is the first time that Ledesma will come up against his old employed, having served as the scrum coach for nearly three years, and Larkham couldn’t resist having a dig at his good mate ahead of the clash on the Gold Coast.

“He was here for a couple of years as an assistant coach and, honestly, I don’t know how he’s a head coach now,” Larkham said. “He struggled as an assistant coach and I don’t know what he’s going to come up with this weekend.

“I expect a fair bit of scrummaging because that’s what he’s good at and I can’t see how he’s had the limited success he’s had already. It’s going to be an interesting game and something I’m looking forward to watching, probably more so for the number of errors they’re going to make.”

Larkham did his best to hold a straight face during this press conference but it was clear that these messages were all a bit of banter and the ribbing is a good indication of the statue that they hold him in and the bonds he was able to create during his time in the Wallabies set-up.

Larkham did eventually talk seriously about the fixture, noting that the side had significantly improved under Ledesma’s reign as a coach and the Wallabies can not take them lightly.

“As much as we joke about it, these guys are starting to play some good footy under Mario.” Larkham said.

In good news for the clash, the Wallabies are set for a huge boost with the return of stars David Pocock and Israel Folau. Folau (ankle) and Pocock (neck) were both late scratchings from the Springboks clash but were due to take part in contact work at training on Tuesday afternoon and Larkham noted that a firm decision on their status would be made later in the week.

“It’ll be great to have Izzy back, one of the world’s best players,” said Dane Haylett-Petty. “We know where Izzy’s good – he’s a great finisher, he can make something out of nothing, he’s amazing in the air.”

There has been no decision on the availability of Adam Coleman, who was a late scratching due to the birth of his kid, but with the pair welcoming a baby girl into the world, hopefully, all 3 players can be available for the clash with the Pumas.

Raelene defends her Castle from clubland critics


Raelene Castle has hit back at claims that Rugby Australia is ignoring and disregarding the foundations of the game, stating that it’s a personal aim of hers to inject more money into the grassroots of the sport.

The criticism came from Club Rugby TV boss Nick Fordham, one of the key players within the revival of club rugby in Sydney, who believed that Castle had abandoned club rugby across the country in favour of putting money into broadcasting and the elite of the sport.

For those unaware of Fordham and partner John Murray work within grassroots rugby, the pair have placed significant resources in the revival of the Shute Shield, striking a ten year commercial deal with Channel 7 and since 2015 have grown the competition in terms of commercial and attendance growth, evident by the 15000+ that have attended the Grand Finals in the past two years.

Castle noted that Rugby Australia were looking to overhaul its commercial model to drive revenue back into these channels and needed Super Rugby and Wallabies to do better to achieve this.

“RA does all it can to support [grassroots rugby],” Castle said. “We’re driving the commercial platform at RA as hard as we possibly can because we do invest well in the Wallabies and our Wallaroos and sevens programs and we know we can do more in the grassroots space, but we have to generate that revenue first.”

“If we had a spare $10m floating around– which is my personal drive and aspiration, to deliver that additional commercial revenue – that’s when we’ll be in a situation where we can invest back in, in a more organised and planned way into grassroots in a grants point of view.”

Wonder how much of the Force debacle could’ve provided Castle with that $10 million along with how much executives are being paid at the highest level of Rugby Australia- exact figures that are unsurprisingly difficult to find as they are not specifically outlined in their annual reports.

Castle’s idea that the sport works as a top-down system is plagued with issues and has been evident within her decision-making during her tenure, which is what I think has been one of the key reasons why rugby at the grassroots level is continuing to declining.

This is shared by Fordham who states “My solution is for Rugby Australia is to finally realise the problem at the top is caused by ignoring the foundations of this game. It ain’t just about putting money into our broadcast. It’s about putting money into where it counts – in those clubs”

My thoughts on the issue are best summed up by Fordham: “It’s plain and simple. You make club land stronger and it goes up the chain.” What do you think?

Rugby’s biggest stage set to get bigger


The Rugby World Cup is set to get larger, with plans already in place to increase the number of competitors.

World Rugby has explored the possibility of including 4 more nations to the tournament as early as the 2023 World Cup in France, but CEO Brett Gosper believes that the balance still needs to be found.

“We want to make sure the teams are competitive enough to move to a 24-team tournament. We have assumed 20 for 2023 but we could change that between now and 2023.” Gosper said.

“The tendency for us is to try and look to expand. It’s about growing the global game – getting interest from fans and commercial interest in new markets. But you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the teams. We’re definitely in an expansive mindset, is how I’d put it.”

The hopes for emerging nations such as Germany, Hong Kong and Kenya to join the prestigious tournament may rest on the success of fellow emerging nations as a sign of the competitiveness of up and coming nations to World Rugby. “If those teams had a good tournament it would give courage and impetus to change,” Gosper said.

Despite this hope, they were very keen to shut down any talks of a potential nightmare mismatch, with Pool B repechage winner- likely either Canada or Hong Kong, set to be sent to the slaughter in the form of facing the All Blacks.

“We’ll work hard after that team qualifies to ensure they’ve got all the technical coaches they need – as we do for each World Cup,” Gosper said. “We are confident that team that qualifies will be competitive enough, even against the All Blacks.” Honestly surprised that this wasn’t part of Larkham’s earlier comedy act as any of these teams will consider a loss by 100 as a good result.

Despite this, the increase in the size of the tournament would be great for emerging nations and evidence of the growth of the sport throughout the world.

Silent Samu optimistic about Wallaby future

Lineout won by Peter Samu.

The efforts to get former Crusader’s breakaway Pete Samu to line up for the Wallabies were long and complicated but both Samu and the side have been reaping the benefits, and Samu couldn’t be happier.

The loose forward earned his first start in Wallaby colours after the late withdrawal of David Pocock in the win against Argentina, and Samu has been optimistic about the future of the side heading into next year’s World Cup

“Probably getting closer to home was the main reason (for leaving New Zealand) and obviously there is the World Cup next year,” Samu said.

“I definitely believe we can win the World Cup next year. I was pretty keen to come back and join the boys because obviously, I know a lot of them from when I was playing in Australia before.”

Samu is a quiet assassin within the Wallabies camp, noting that he can be introverted at times and the Wallabies had yet to crack him, stating “Na, not really, I’m still pretty quiet.”

He may be an introvert but not even he could help but laugh when Crusaders teammate Joe Moody caught his eye during the haka in Sydney.

“I was trying to keep a straight face … (Moody was) smiling at me while he was doing it,” the 26-year-old said.

“I just stepped in to hide behind one of the tall boys so I didn’t have to look at him.”

Ahead of the clash with Argentina on Saturday, Samu outlined defence as a key area for the side to improve on if they were to win. “Defence wins games. If we nail the few defensive things we slipped up on I think we’ll go alright this weekend,” he said.

  • tREDgic

    Im sorry Raelene, but one of the biggest issues facing Rugby is the limited FTA TV for Rugby. League has it all over us in that regard and has for a long time.
    The second biggest issue is losing the 18-20yo good kids to better contracts in League.
    We need to really get behind the State level comps and NRC and make sure they are televised.
    Finally, bring back the tribalism. North Harbour dont want to play for Aukland, so we give up the NSW and QLD monikers. Make it Qld vs NSW vs ACT vs Vic (and dont get me started on the stupidity of chucking the Force)

    • Huw Tindall

      I wouldn’t listen to club rugby ‘leaders’ in Queensland and NSW. The appalling partisan behaviour of their respective board members at Rugby Australia are one of the main reasons we never capitalised on the dawn of pro rugby.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Absolutely Huw, this idea that we put money into clubs and schools and it will eventually trickle up is just total crap. If RA get rid of the current senior board members at these clubs and states and find people who will look after Australian rugby instead of screwing everyone else to make themselves look good then we might move forward.
        One reason every rugby player wants to stay in NZ and be the best they can be is because that will open doors to a Super team or the ABs and that’s because they win more than they lose. The Point Raelene made about needing the Super teams and Wallabies to win more and become an attractive sponsor is so true. If those teams generate more cash then that can trickle down to the grass roots, trying to do it the other way is just demonstrating the total partisan beliefs that have actually done more to kill rugby here than RA could ever do.

        • Hitcho

          I’m sorry KRL but I have to strongly disagree. Our wallabies are average at best, our SR teams are worse, why? Because we simply don’t have the basic skills to match it with New Zealand. Basic skills are ingrained at a junior and club level. The wallabies won’t “do better” until they have the skilled cattle to do so and that won’t happen until there is a significant investment in schools (private and public), club rugby, to promote increased skills and competition, and community access to the game (free to air tv) so we can build the supporter base of our great game. We can only use a top down approach after the game has been built from the foundations up. Even then to continue to feed the elite, the juniors and amateurs need to be full first.

        • Damo

          I think the problem is that both of you lads are right, and you provided the prefect description of a Catch 22- or “circular reference” in spreadsheet speak. The fix lies in both money and importantly, strategy. It is very difficult to know which way to go. When NZRU execute plans to improve the game/ performance etc there they are basically tweaking a market leader product. Here we are dealing in a very competitive football environment where we sit at 3 or 4 in the pecking order. Any initiative will need to thread its way through that real challenge.
          Invest in the elite end, get SR and the Wallabies winning again at all costs and we will may well bring the grass roots forward on the back of that success. But in that competitive environment it may not work and a lot of money (that we don’t have) will be spent for a short term gain. However aggressively focussing on the base i.e. better coaches, club support, a much more expansive high profile school rugby program etc etc will almost certainly work but will take a long time and where does that leave the game in the meantime.
          On top of that my view of RA is that of a lot of very smart people coming together to create a very dumb and cumbersome collective. I honestly don’t trust them to execute any kind of plan which requires smarts, flexibility, deft touches and genuine contact with the stakeholders. You just need to look at their bureaucratic, neanderthal approach to marketing the elite end of the game here to understand the limitations at play.
          Just some observations here. I don’t have a best solution. I wish I did.

        • paul

          Great Post, sadly there are no easy answers

        • Hitcho

          Yeah mate, great comment. I’m saddened to see such a great game as it currently is. My biggest sense of frustration is that we could have built the game off world cup success 10 years ago but instead threw buckets of money at the top end while mostly ignoring the next generation. I agree KRL has a point but I feel long term gain is the only option left while hoping the top end improves in the meantime.

        • Bakkies

          Rugby has to learn to coexist. Have games on when kids are free so they can play other sports which is going to happen anyway. That’s how it works in Ireland and clubs are bursting at the seams with their minis which is the age group they need to start playing the game at.

          Playing games on Sunday morning is counterproductive and guts clubs. Having read the Sydney junior Rugby thread on this site that does occur. Very hard to field sides when league is on at the same time.

        • Hitcho

          Absolutely Rugby has to learn to coexist. It always used to be Saturday was for Rugby League was for Sunday. Infiltrate the public school system as other codes has with private schools. Give juniors and clubs a run before super rugby and NRC. Why not make a day of it. As it stands I pay buckets for my Brumbies membership and get 1 game at mostly stupid times due to broadcast contracts. We need to claw back ground from AFL, League, and soccer which will only happen with accessibility, funding and engagment.

        • Alister Smith

          I have never been to a Brumbies game but I have to agree that crowds would have to be better if many of the games weren’t played past 8pm on a mid Winter’s Saturday night in Canberra.

        • nmpcart

          Bakkies, in Brisbane junior games move to Sunday from U10 I think, because Saturdays are when the schools that play rugby (Catholic and GPS) have their matches. If the club games were on Saturday they would lose a lot of players to those schools unfortunately.

        • Attizar

          Spot on. U6 – U9 play Saturday mornings but change to Sunday from U10’s

        • Who?

          Happens in my region too. Then the private school kids go to League on the Saturday until their school season starts, at which point all the Leaguies start whinging about losing their players.
          In the meantime, we lose significant numbers of our non-school players by going to Sundays. My old club, we had two pastors in it. One was club president. He played with some very high level people in SA, still has connections to the Bulls, his kids are Rugby mad. But he can’t quit his job in order to play Rugby…
          It’s ironic that the game they play in heaven is the game you can’t play if you go to church to go to heaven. :-

        • Charcoal

          Many schools have a sport’s day during the school week and not the weekend. My old school had sport, including inter-school sport, every Thursday afternoon and still does. That would leave the weekends free for junior club sport. Would that be so difficult to implement?

        • Who?

          My country town/city has interschool sport, but the ‘rugby schools’ don’t participate in it. They participate in their elite comps, which are held on Saturday. As in, all day Saturday, leave home by 7 for a bus ride to the opposing school and get home after 5.

        • Bakkies

          The schools would have to be willing to give up a day from not teaching the curriculum to allow their kids to travel to games. That’s how it works in South Africa from what I have seen on their interschools match preview clips from Super Sport which are worth watching. Teams from all sports travel not just Rugby. It was the same case in NSW with the Waratah Shield a lot of those matches were mid week.

        • Bakkies

          Than they lose their players to league on a Sunday.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Fair enough we’ll have to agree to disagree. The problem I see at the higher level isn’t so much a lack of skills as a lack of any improvement of those skills. No one gets into the ABs as a complete player, they all have a level of potential, probably higher than what is available here I agree, BUT they all have also got areas they need to improve, skills they need to develop and put in place a plan to achieve that. Over here it seems like all the players have an attitude of ” I’ve made it so I’m good enough and I don’t need to improve”. Combine that with the lack of tactical improvement on the game plan and the best players in the world would fail.
          To be fair its probably a combination of both and funds need to be spread throughout the game.

        • Hitcho

          I agree with you comment but can’t help but feel that players, coaches, and game plans won’t improve or as you say won’t feel like they need to improve unless the next generation is snapping at their heels for a spot. I really hate comparing us to New Zealand because it’s chalk and cheese, but all you have to do is look at their squad, hell even those on the fringes playing mitre 10 cup. They have depth built from juniors. They lose their flyhalf an there’s 5 more ready and waiting. What do we do? We pay 1 play 6 million to stay.

        • Braveheart81

          You’re absolutely right that we struggle with depth and we aren’t generating enough quality juniors. A big issue there is the battle to have talented sportspeople playing rugby.

          Our top few players are going to earn ~$1m a year though. Whether or not Hooper’s contract proves to be successful over the duration of it remains to be seen, but they’re trying to create some consistency after this RWC when we’re likely to lose a lot of our senior players. It could work out to be a bad contracting decision or it could work out to save RA money over the course because they’re not offering Hooper multiple 2 and 1 year contracts.

          It’s not like they’re paying him $6m now though and it’s not like that money could or would have gone to juniors instead. Let’s also remember that currently Folau and Pocock are comfortably earning more than that a season.

        • Hitcho

          Yeah it probably sounded like I begrudge the top players earning good coin, which I don’t. I think it’s a supply and demand thing. Hooper, Folau, Poey etc can essentially name their price because who’s coming through behind them trying to earn their spot. Right now we are scrambling to “blood” more players who simply aren’t ready. Foley gets benched and we don’t have an actual 10 to replace him. Engage youngsters from every demographic, increase skill level, (even the NZ forwards have skills expected of backs) engage the community by making the game easily accessible by putting the game on free to air (regional pubs and clubs won’t pay for Fox because it’s too expensive) and make the top players earn their top dollars because if not there’s someone waiting to take their spot. Even if this was to happen we are still looking at 10 years until we see the Bledisloe back but hopefully marked improvement after 5.

        • Brumby Runner

          BH, I don’t have (much of) a problem with offering Hooper around $1m per year, but I really don’t see the sense in the six year contract. I wouldn’t want to see Poey or anyone else on a six year contract either.

          That’s a lot of money tied up in Micheal Hooper over the period of the contract. Money that might otherwise be better spent on the next tranche of stars in two to three years’ time. I personally wouldn’t like to see today’s stars on contracts that extend more than a year after the RWC. There are just too many imponderables about the continued worthiness of those players after this RWC cycle has finished.

          The older stars probably shouldn’t be extended beyond 2019 – the Pococks, Hoopers, Folaus, Kepus, Genias, Foleys, Beales, TPN etc. RA should be investing in the present stars who are more likely to stay beyond 2019 and into the next RWC cycle – Coleman, Tupou, AAT, Fainga’a, Rodda, Timu, Tui, Uelese, Dempsey, Gordon, Powell, Sorovi, etc etc.

          If we don’t have a No 7 right now to back up Pocock and Hooper, then thgere will be plenty to encourage, develop and select from by 2020 and beyond – Hardwick, Wright, McWreight, Miller. No need to waste big bucks on Michael Hooper beyond the next two years.

          Same goes for Folau, where Maddocks and Banks are the future and should be receiving the RA largess beyond 2019. Ditto others.

        • Braveheart81

          I think your point about the older stars is exactly why Hooper has been offered a long term contract. They see him as the bridge between the current senior players and the next wave. We’ll see whether it pans out to be a good option or not but they’re trying to do more than just secure his services for 5 years.

          They probably would view the last two years of his contract as both a risk that they’ll be paying too much for his services if someone better has come along and likewise saving a million dollars a season because if he signed a new contract then it would be for a lot more.

          My guess is if they’d just gone for a 2 or 3 year contract they’d have paid 60-80% of the 5 year contract value in that time.

        • Brumby Runner

          Which is why I see the best use of Hooper being a three year contract, 2019,20 and 21. That is sufficient bridge to the next generation. I wouldn’t be contemplating another extension for him unless at that time it was absolutely clear that he was best pick for RWC 2023. Would probably save a couple of mil to be better used elsewhere.

          I repeat that I would take the same approach with Folau and Pocock, and any other current star wanting an extension of a current contract.

        • Braveheart81

          I’d almost certainly guess RA would have had to fork out 75+% of the dollars to get him for 3 years. I think they’ve got a discount on the five years based on what other top earners are getting.

          Part of the risk is also with the Waratahs who pick up part of the tab and I would also guess that some of it is from 3rd party deals like the other big contracts (Folau, Pocock).

          So yes, they are taking a risk but I think it is low and calculated.

          He’s also 3 and 4 years younger than Folau and Pocock which is why they’re willing to take the risk on the long contract.

        • Bakkies

          Agreed. That’s how Joe Schmidt operates with the Irish squad and players go back to their provinces a far better Rugby player. Even if they aren’t on the pitch for the test side he gives players aspects of their game that they need to work on to get better. With the Wallabies I suspect it is too many mixed messages which players get fed up with and often walk away.

    • Huw Tindall

      Agree with FTA though. The rugby is actually bloody good but nobody knows about it!

  • Huw Tindall

    The lack of fiscal understanding at the club rugby level is baffling. Yes grass roots needs more support but it’s not chucking money at Randwick and Uni to buy players from western Sydney juniors.

    • paul

      Yes history has shown over the thousands of years that the top method works.
      I’ll get all the money and then give you some.
      I’ll eat first and give you whats left.
      Nothing baffling about it.

      • Braveheart81

        There’s no model where the revenue isn’t generated at the top though.

        There was more money to spend on lower levels when the game was amateur but that is over 20 years ago now.

        Professionalism brings with it the reality that the pro players are going to earn a substantial amount of the revenue generated.

        • paul

          But as has been pointed out the RA do have the money.
          The point is where they are choosing to spend that money.

        • Braveheart81

          Which money? It would seem to me from reading the RA financials in detail for a number of years they have cut corporate costs significantly.

          They have been hamstrung in recent years by having to overspend on Super Rugby teams but that has been a requirement to earn the broadcast revenue.

          We are still paying for the profligate spending through the 2000s particularly with the RWC surplus. Too much was spent on players in that era (well over the agreed CBA figure) and corporate spending was excessive. We lost the opportunity to really invest in the grassroots then.

        • Greg

          have/had the money -> 5-6M for Hooper?

        • Braveheart81

          It makes him our third highest paid player per season at best, possibly lower than that. Let’s not pretend that money is all coming out of the budget for a single year. It’s five years. Clearly that contract has a risk but it may also end up saving them money over the duration of the contract versus what they would have paid him on shorter contracts.

        • Greg

          Sure but that is s big investment fro a player that many here think is an impact player for the last 20,

          Who is in front of him at a yearly rate? Folau + ?

        • Braveheart81

          Folau and Pocock certainly. It doesn’t really matter what people here think. He’s also the captain of the team and in the last 5 years has been voted the Wallabies best player twice and in the other years has finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the John Eales Medal.

          He has consistently been one of the Wallabies best for 5 years and is an integral member of the team. He’s seen as being more important post the 2019 RWC when there is likely to be a large number of key senior players all towards the end of their careers.

        • Greg

          “It doesn’t really matter what people here think”

          got it!

        • Dud Roodt

          BH is right though. RA’s financial situation, and how they spend their money and on whom, is not at all dictated by the feelings of fans on a website. I’m assuming they take the word of the coaches and their own accountants with much more seriousness than they do that of “Dud Roodt – GAGR Commentor”

        • Bakkies

          Well they haven’t taken financial management seriously in the past. Look at the money that was thrown away under O’Neill and that bloke ran a bank in a previous life.

          The RA have to fans seriously otherwise there would be no professional game down the line. As it is now that base is dwindling at a fast rate.

        • Dud Roodt

          Be that as it may (and I don’t disagree with you), no sporting organisation in the world is checking blogs for how to spend their money

        • Who?

          Pocock… Depends on your wording. And I note that you were very careful with your wording ‘per season’. Because if you said per annum, Pocock’s on significantly less. Given that contract was over three years. And he’s on less again after missing the game last week due to injury (i.e. no match payment).
          I don’t think there’s any issue with the seasonal value of Hooper’s contract – it’s fine. My only questions are about someone playing that position with over 80 Test caps on his body already getting a five year contract. It should’ve been three, with mutual options for a two year extension, and the option of a sabbatical or two. If he keeps going and plays every test between here and the 2023 RWC, he could finish that RWC with over 150 Test caps, and he’d still be barely into his 30’s. He may well keep going after that – he may, may, actually be young enough that he could plausibly make it to the 2027 RWC! But I don’t like contracts longer than 4 years (i.e. RWC cycles), and given Hooper’s contract doesn’t align with that cycle, I’d have thought it’d make sense to go a 3 + 2 option.
          But I’ll repeat – I don’t believe there’s any reason why anyone should question the Wallaby captain getting that figure per season. We can question whether he should be question, but the coach picks the captain, and reality is that he’s not going to be dropped (he’s barely going to be given time to get back to full fitness!). And if that’s the case, then he should be appropriately reimbursed. Just as Mowen should’ve been appropriately reimbursed. It’s the same principle. They got it wrong then, they’ve gotten it (mostly) right now.

        • Braveheart81

          Pocock’s current contract is reported as $4m over 3 years of which only two of those involved playing rugby. Even over those three years it is more per annum than $6m over 5 years.

          Clearly Rugby Australia knows Cheika finishes up after 2019. Their plan is for Larkham to take over as coach. Whether or not that’s the right decision in the long run is completely unknown but it would be certain that discussions around Hooper’s future have taken place with Larkham.

          McKenzie didn’t want to offer Mowen a top up contract because he didn’t see him as his long term captain nor number 8. I agree he did very well as captain but he was divisive amongst the group and was captain and number 8 at a time when more obvious choices were unavailable.

          I think the choice RA has made is that they would have paid him the vast majority of that $6m to sign him for 3 years so taking a punt on those extra two years isn’t a particularly big risk.

          Anyway, we’ll see how it plays out.

        • Who?

          $4 million?! Wow – every other comment and article I’ve seen written on here and elsewhere says $2.25 for 3 years/2 seasons, hence my comment. If it’s $4 million, then he’s better paid than Hooper. But I have to say, I’d be amazed if it’s $4 million.
          In terms of future planning, it may be that way, but I really hope that Larkham isn’t an automatic selection, because I’m still not convinced… And the Tahs’ coaches need to be at least as involved as the Wallabies coach, and how secure is Gibson..? More secure than last year, but five years, I wouldn’t have money on any coach still being in their role then. It might happen, but I wouldn’t put money on it.
          I don’t recall comments about Link not offering a top up to Mowen. My understanding was that it was an ARU policy not to offer top ups to first year players, and given he debuted that year, he was still a first year player. In terms of him being a number 8 when other choices weren’t available, I don’t see that there was anyone coming back who was an automatic selection over him. You might argue Palu, but he was in his twilight, unreliable, and Mowen could have shifted to six to make room for him. Divisive amongst the group, I don’t see how that was possible? The group was Brumbies (his mates) and Reds (who had a lot of respect for him). Maybe he was divisive around the Tahs? But we all know that the Tahs were divisive, and we saw how that ended.
          In terms of $5-6 Million for 3 years for Hooper, I don’t believe that. Because the lists that came out the other week already have Hooper – at $1.2M/season – being paid more than every All Black, being in the top 10 best paid players in the world, with Folau being the best paid in the world. And I don’t believe the NH Raids can continue forever. Only one English club made a profit last year. It’s unsustainable, and it’s going to come to an end sooner or later.
          But you’re right – we’ll see how it plays out. It’s just funny that we had all those complaints this year that Cooper’s contract at 3 years was too long, yet RA are happy to go 5 years.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Except that in the shorter term playing as poorly as he has this year he wouldn’t have been able to ask for so much. It may also have provide funding for an alternative that isn’t there now.

        • Braveheart81

          I’d hardly rate him as playing poorly. He’s figured in MOTM voting in at least two of the six tests (noting the 3rd Ireland test he only played a few minutes). I agree his form hasn’t been top shelf but contract negotiations don’t happen overnight and aren’t signed on the basis of a couple of games. His consistency over a long period of time, the fact he is captain and is seen as a key bridge between this generation and the next after the 2019 RWC are the reasons he’s been signed for a long term contract.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah I get that. Personally I don’t think he’s anywhere near as good as most people. I still actually struggle to see what he achieved in most matches. Yeah he runs around a lot, has heaps of enthusiasm and is fast but I’m not sure how effective he actually is. Like a lot here I think he’s a very poor leader.
          Happy for people to disagree with this, after all that’s what the site is for

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      That’s the thing though, these people pretending to support ‘grassroots’ really wouldn’t support RA massively funding introductory programs or juniors. What they want is more money for their elite and exclusive amateur competitions that have been semi-professional in the past.

      The media shouldn’t give these clowns the time of day by refereeing to things like the Shute Shield as ‘grassroots’. Call a spade a spade and refer to it as an ‘elite and exclusive amateur competition’.

      • IIPA

        It’s easy too dismiss these clubs if you don’t live in Sydney. And of course Fordham is talking thru his hip pocket. But go and look at the community engagement teams like Randwick and Warringah have, the work done at junior level by the likes of Gordon, Manly and the Two Blues. Even Uni are a gateway for women’s rugby and probably keeping a lot of talented schoolboy players in the game through their colts programs and sports scholarships.

        Nothing wrong with trying to be “elite” and “exclusive” is an easy insult to throw ( not without some validity given the issues in Western Sydney ).

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Who is dismissing the clubs? They have an elite amateur competition, which is great, but that is all it should be and hopefully all it ever will be. It is the job of RA to support the sport in Australia, not already established Sydney clubs.

          There is something wrong with trying to be ‘elite’ if you’re also trying to pretend you’re a grassroots club. In fact, elite and grassroots are literally diametrically opposed. And they are exclusive. Look what they did to Canberra, who they didn’t like winning their precious Shute Shield.

        • IIPA

          I don’t know… would you say GPS schools are part of grassroots ? Would you not say they also are elite in terms of the rugby they aim to play?

          What is grassroots for you… only clubs in poor or country areas? U12s and down? 4th and 5th grade?

          You can still be grassroots and aim to have your top side as elite.

        • Who?

          GPS schools are not grassroots. Because they’re elite. The grassroots are the areas where EVERYONE can have access to the game, not just those who happen to have enough cash to choose to be part of it.
          Clubland is where it’s at. Subbies, regional unions. The places where kids play from Under 6’s through to Over 35’s. The places where a club championship means you might get your first 1/8 page report in the local rag all year.

        • tREDgic

          Shouldnt “Grass roots” refer to the everyone, INCLUDING GPS and elite schools (but specifically not focussing on them). Look what AFL has done getting out of Victoria and use that as a model which is already sucessful. Premier grade clubs have 4ths, 5ths and juniors, and are part of the solution. But the main thing is to get as many kids as possible playing then give them a pathway to either super rugby, subbies or vets, but keep them in the game.

        • Who?

          No. Because GPS is outside RA’s control. They have no affiliation (even though they give school coaches priority over club coaches for courses, etc). And their behaviour damages club competitions, by taking the best kids out of the clubs who developed them, leaving the competitions weakened.
          The fact is that clubland needs to be the focus, because the current situation is that families believe they need to send their kids to elite schools in order to make rep teams. I’ve seen kids switch from state schools to Elite schools and immediately find themselves in rep teams, even though I’m hearing from their families that the quality of the coaching at club is often of a greater technical quality (and, in other cases, it’s the same coaches at club and school, though they’re different coaches to the rep coaches).
          As long as clubland isn’t the focus, then the history will continue to reinforce the status quo.

        • SuckerForRed

          Who? I agree with your last sentence. You are 100% right.But, I also agree with tREDgic in that “Grassroots” should apply to everyone in the amateur realm. Just because GPS schools are outside of RA’s control does not mean that they should be. And no, that is not a typo. I have never understood why the GPS system operates so independently. Shouldn’t they have to be on the same train as the rest of us? This is one of the major problems in Australian Rugby – there are several bunches of people pulling in different directions because the have their own best interests at heart & couldn’t give a rats about the rest of the code.

          As a person outside of Shute Shield I can see a bit of both sides of the argument here. Yes those clubs are still strictly “Grassroots”, and I respect the work they do for the game as a whole, but…… Myself and many others get the shits with being treated like dirt beneath the feet of the people who think that they are the be all and end all of the of the code. They are one section of the wider rugby community and only have the influence that they have because of the preferential treatment they have been party to in the past. Trying to keep juniors in the game until they are playing Golden Oldies is important in all clubs/towns/competitions not JUST Sydney. As D Braithwaite said – “It is the job of RA to support the sport in Australia, not already established Sydney clubs.”

          I can remember a number of years ago being told by a Super Rugby Club recruitment officer (for want of a better title) that he didn’t have to look outside of Shute Shield or Premier rugby because if players “really wanted to make it they would move to Brisbane or Sydney to play”. When I pointed out three newly minted NRL players were signed out of regional rugby union clubs, he shrugged his shoulders and said something along the lines that if they wanted to play union they would and it wasn’t his problem. How many other players, juniors or otherwise, and signed to other sports because Rugby just couldn’t be fagged looking outside of their own inner circle?

          Here endth the rant….

        • Who?

          If the schools were willing to submit to RA’s leadership, I’d have a lot less argument with them. You’ve seen one end of the development tunnel in our region, I’ve worked at the other end, I’m sure you’ve seen the frustration and devastation they create through the junior and teenage competitions, through their pure self interest. If they were willing to submit to RA’s administration, then perhaps life could even be a bit better managed between schools and clubs.
          The only reason I can see for the schools to stay out of the RA tent is control. They want complete control of their players. They don’t want to pay RA’s fees/insurances, they want a clear distinction. I went to a club-commissioned carnival at a school one year to be given a ‘Welcome to GPS rugby’ flyer by the school. Which was clear elitism, stating that GPS rugby was better than the rugby their kids were playing, with no respect whatsoever for the hosting club body. They hosted the carnival to fund the school, and more importantly, to ‘harvest’ the kids we were developing. That school no longer has their carnival… Reckon you’d know who I’m talking about. :-)
          Your point about kids moving to Brisbane and Sydney to ‘make it’… I completely agree with that. I see the Recruiter’s point, but he also has to realize that you can only do that if you’re financially supported, and there’s no guarantee those talented kids will have that financial support (from family, etc).
          I can absolutely see the arguments for the Shute clubs (and always note that the same arguments should be made for the other metropolitan comps, who don’t complain anywhere near as loudly) being better supported. But I can see the argument for them NOT being better supported is your excellent point about having too many bodies pulling in different directions. It’s my long held belief that Australian Rugby is effectively in a feudal state, with many fiefdoms, vassal states desperately looking for support from their suzerain, a suzerain who is far weaker than they imagine, and who they don’t actually support when their support is needed.
          Rugby Australia – and all the sub-unions – need to be scrapped, integrated, merged into a MUCH flatter organization. Flatter, more accountable to stake holders, more accessible to stake holders. Why do we have to have so many ‘general managers’ and ‘CEO’s’? Why can’t we have a CEO for RA (move them from Sydney if that’s what it takes to make it happen!), regional managers, and competition managers? The regional managers run the competition managers and development officers. Centralize marketing and coaching, but make sure it’s all STRONGLY connected to each and every club in the country (and, if schools were ever to align themselves with RA, then the term ‘club’ would include schools). Have a board where it’s possible for me to nominate someone (and by me, I mean an average stake holder, not just those who are already on the board), where it’s possible for each stakeholder group to have a say on those nominated.

        • Bakkies

          I agree however after the farce of last year no state union will trust the RA to take control after they used their test case of centralisation to axe a side. Centralisation won’t happen and I don’t blame the state unions with that one.

          ‘Your point about kids moving to Brisbane and Sydney to ‘make it’… I completely agree with that. I see the Recruiter’s point, but he also has to realize that you can only do that if you’re financially supported’

          or already there on a scholarship at a Rugby school that has a boarding house.

          I like the concept that South Africa has with Craven Week. Some of the provinces field country district teams at the event which gives kids from the bush an opportunity to shine in front of countless talent scouts at a ‘tournament’ (there is a final but there is no official winner) that is televised. Australia doesn’t even have televised schools Rugby.

        • Who?

          Completely agree with the issues around centralization. Which is why I say that RA has to be torn down, too.
          The scholarships… Yeah. I know the year my boy was U12’s, a kid was signed up on a scholarship playing his second ever game of Rugby. Insanity. The kid was talented, but…
          Craven week… Less than 20% of 12 year olds make it back as 17 year olds. Eben Etzebeth was a winger in Grade 10, at 16 he was 150cm tall. He’s now 204cm. He never would’ve appeared anywhere if his potential as a rugby player – especially as a lock – were judged off his abilities as a 12 year old.
          So whilst there are kids in the big smoke on scholarships, there’s still plenty of good ‘uns ‘stuck’ out in the bush.

        • Bakkies

          ‘Just because GPS schools are outside of RA’s control does not mean that they should be. And no, that is not a typo. I have never understood why the GPS system operates so independently.’

          These players ultimately feed in to the outdated concept that is the Australian Schoolboys which is run by the Australian Schools Rugby Union which is a separate body to the RA. The likes of Phil Mooney, Andrew Scotney, David Knox, Brian Smith were passed over by the ASRU to coach the Aus Schoolboys in favour of Andrew Maloney who was preferred due to having more teaching experience. I don’t know what that has to do with being capable of coaching a rep Rugby team against the likes of NZ Schools. No wonder the team struggles to beat them.

          As bad as it is being run by the clown college at the RA the Aus Schoolboys need to be disbanded and turned in to the Aus under 18s as is the case in Europe so the team is under the same umbrella as the under 20s, 7s and the test team. The governing body than has control over coaching appointments and the opposition they play. It will also open selection doors towards club players that aren’t playing in the various schools associations and the Aus Schoolboys Championships (which needs to be turned in to an under 18s tournament). The RA will have control over that vital cog in the pathway.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Good rant though. Not as good as BLs or Hoss but good

        • Parker

          Perhaps things have changed since the late 70s in Sydney, but when I left a CHS school and made it into the Eastwood Colts, a lot of GPS and CAS graduates had been recruited for that team. So it was the reverse of what you describe, However, I am not for a second saying that the upper levels of administrative decisionmaking and rep selection were not dominated by GPS old boys with an inflated sense of their merit and competence.

        • IIPA

          GPS schools rightly or wrongly still provide the bulk of Aust Schools players… so they eventually come under RA jurisdiction.

          Not suggesting GPS schools should get funding.

          Just saying the concept of grassroots shouldn’t be means tested.

        • Who?

          Isn’t means testing the definition of grassroots? I’d wager that the elite schools spend more on their program than many clubs in any given year. And the grassroots is the fine end – the source of the players, where things are scraped together. The schools might appear to provide the players, but a lot of players from those schools didn’t play their first game of Rugby in a school jersey.
          Put it this way – in my region, we’ve got a few elite schools. Their rugby programs, each would be resourced at a cost greater than the turnover of several of the clubs in the region combined. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if those schools combined have greater resources than all the clubs in my region (who outnumber them roughly 5:1). If they’re that big in comparison, how are they grassroots?

    • Andy


  • IIPA

    I don’t envy Raelene and if she needs that extra $10mill it ain’t coming from crowds last week and this week for the Wallaby tests.

    I’m torn on RWC expansion and not convinced just yet. Look at the four teams fighting for the final spot: Germany racked by political infighting, Canada struggling and focusing more on 7s, HK with a shallow depth pool and Kenya with question marks over set piece against better teams.

    One of these poor bastards ends up in Pool B along with Namibia and oh, the Boks and the ABs. Boks might not be currently scaring anyone but how would Kenya deal with a Kitshoff, Marx, Loux front row? The ABs have no issues racking up 40pts in a half against us, I could see them easily putting 150 on any of those 5 teams. This is the issue.

    • Alister Smith

      I think in an area like the scrum the Boks would be more than scary enough. I don’t see it so much as a points issue as a player safety issue. If there is genuine growth in player numbers and talent and ability then by all means expand it but if you are putting the cart before the horse and trying to drive growth by including more teams then I think it would end in tears. One player with a broken neck on the world stage would do nothing for expanding the game (and that is obviously not the worst thing about it).

      • IIPA

        Indeed. Look at what happened to the Ivory Coast in 1995 ( and their rugby since ) and google Max Brito.

        • juswal

          Poor Max. I looked him up the other week. It hasn’t got any easier.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      You could mostly avoid that issue by having different standard groups possibly with different numbers of teams qualifying for the finals. So for example the 2 highest standard groups have 2 teams qualifying, but the other 4 groups only 1 team. There are plenty of possibilities e.g a final 12 with winners of 4 highest standard groups getting a by to the quarter finals. 2nd place getters ftom those groups would play one of the top 2 teams from the 2 lower standard groups to qualify for the quarters.

      One aspect a lot of people from tier 2 countries enjoy is getting the chance to have a go at the top teams, so it’s a matter of not too much segregation , but still avoiding 150 point mismatches. There’s all sorts of ways to do it.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Morning Nathan, thanks for the write up.
    While it may be tongue in cheek I think Bernie understands the threats that these Argies pose to the Wallabies. I hope he’s actually looking at the changes he needs to make to get some actual attack going because he’s currently failing big time.
    Nick Fordan comes across as another whinging little elitist who wants to feather his own nest at the expense of every one else. What a tosser.
    That story of Samu hiding from Moody is gold. Love that this sort of comeradie exists even at test level at times.
    Expansion of WRC is a good idea but hopefully it’ll be managed better than the expansion of Super rugby was. TBH more lambs to the slaughter.

  • Mart

    The grass roots funding could work on the most basic levels. Halve the rego fees and suck in more of the kids going to league at junior levels

    • Gipetto

      Brad the Goon has done great things for the clubs in Queensland. Dropping talented players like Tui, Cooper, Tuttle, Paia’aua at various times during the year meant club games have attracted many more patrons. The Reds lost a lot of games but beer is much cheaper at the suburban venues.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning GAGR’s. apologies for lack of input, apparently there are some days where work is more important than dribbling and frothing about rugby. BL’s dribble and froth for today:
    – I know Larkham’s comments are meant tongue in cheek, but Jesus he sounds like a complete tool for saying it. And yes yes he is trying to drum up a bit of pre-match banter. But it is just embarrassing! He shouldnt make any comment where the exact same could be said about himself.
    – Am loving Samu’s no fuss no bullshit approach. I think that is the example I want to see from players. Shut up, get on with it. Let your results and effort do the talking.
    – I am staying out of the club rugby discussion. that is just a minefield I am not prepared to walk through, and to be honest I dont know enough about it. Mind you that has never stopped me mouthing off about things before ;-)
    Over to you GAGR’s!

    • Brumby Runner

      BL, like you I know next the SFA about club land, but it seems odd to me for Fordham to be talking up the improvements and development put into SS in recent years but then to go on about needing more money to be injected into clubs (presumably primarily SS clubs). If the SS is going gang busters (and there is evidence of that) what would the extra millions be put into at clubland? Are there legitimate areas where extra expenditure could clearly improve the sport in Aus to the point of strengthening the Super teams and the Wallabies, or would it be used mostly to pay players and officials higher salaries/contracts?

      • disqus_NMX

        Absolutely. Throw money at clubs and the majority of it will go into a bidding war for the best players. Admittedly, this isn’t entirely a bad thing, as that bidding war is also against the rugby league clubs. But not at all what you would call “grass roots” funding.

        If we are actually talking about “grass roots” funding though, then you could do things like heavily subsidise, or make entirely free, coaching courses for anyone that wanted to do one. And I mean anyone. Then you’d have a whole stack of parents that actually know how to coach kids (and adults), and that would result is some serious trickle up effects in playing skills, and enthusiasm for the game. Not to mention that some of those people might then go on to get serious about coaching, leading to a higher quality pool of coaches competing for the higher level coaching positions.

        You could also do things like buy rugby balls and other equipment to distribute to schools that need them. And by need them, I most certainly don’t mean any private school. By need them, I mean any school that doesn’t currently have rugby equipment because they have limited resources, and have chosen other sports to spend their budget on. You could take this further and pay the salaries of development officers to go into those schools and do coaching clinics with the kids, and liaise with the teachers to encourage any of them to take on coaching courses (which you would make free of cost). Thus bringing rugby into schools that don’t currently play rugby.

        That would be my top two “grass roots” funding initiatives, but I’m sure there are other similar ideas that could be implemented.

        And oh yes, FTA TV is a no brainer. Get it happening Raylene.

        • Brumby Runner

          Good points Disqus, but (I’m sure you will agree) they don’t need to be put in place through the SS or other clubs. The argument from Fordham was for more money to go to clubs.

        • disqus_NMX

          Absolutely agree. SS and other clubs are doing just fine. If, and only if, RA was flush with shit tons of spare cash would you advocate throwing some of it at the clubs to help them with that bidding war against the League clubs.

        • disqus_NMX

          Oh, and would also add free/subsidised refereeing courses to the free/subsidised coaching courses. The more people around that understand the laws of the game at a high level can only help with the trickle up.

        • nmpcart

          You’re right about not regulating it, just want to encourage as many as possible to partake in it. Refereeing courses are good too. I would also like to see the clubs have introductory programs for young players who are new to the game so that it is not up to the coach who is trying to get his team happening to teach a kid al the basics of a game that they have never played before. Just some ‘new to rugby’ sessions about tackles, rucks and mauls etc, offside lines so the kids who may be coming from league or soccer get a focused understanding of where offside is, what to do when you have been tackled etc. That would be a pre-season thing so that these kids feel more confident when they join their team.

        • nmpcart

          Totally agree with coaching development and giving schools equipment. I wouldn’t just make the courses free for anyone, make them mandatory for everyone involved in coaching in clubs and encourage multiple people from each team as you need several parents to help with a team, not just a main coach. But make the courses small groups and ensure that they are relevant to the age groups the coaches are involved in. If you’re coaching Under 8’s (first year of tackling) you don’t want complex moves aimed at older age groups.

          Then make these courses available on a regular basis, run by development officers who should be expanded by funding so that they have the time and resources to cover their areas. Make part of their KPIs to link schools to clubs so there is a pathway and then as the kids get holder and more specialised positions have specialised coaching sessions for front rows, loose forwards, inside backs etc.

          Yes there are great things being done by ex top players aimed at high level kids in specialist areas, and that is great, but we want to expand the skills of the rest of the kids too, not just those with high potential.

          Take 7s out to the schools and coach the kids in how to play it then create actual competitions for them to use what they have learnt.

          This isn’t necessarily going to create a higher number of elite players but it will help to get more kids skilled in the game and have coaches who are more confident in what they are doing. That has to be good for the game overall.

        • disqus_NMX

          Absolutely agree with what you’re saying about different courses aimed at different ages, skills, and levels. But you don’t have to overcomplicated it by micromanaging or regulating it. The people wanting to do the courses will naturally put themselves in the right course for their kids’ age groups and skill levels. Just make the courses easily available and free/cheap, and it will all just happen.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yeah I agree. I must admit my knowledge on the Shute Shield environment is 5/8 of SFA. However, in all of these arrangements, and I use the AFL one as a good example, a tiered funding approach generally works. I.E. the clubs with the least amount of funding, not profit or expense, get the bigger slice of the pie. That way the extra funding cant simply be utilised to purchase more players to make a strong club even stronger. Or a club that has already pretty substantial infrastructure get even better infrastructure.

      • Alister Smith

        Yes people from Penrith, western Sydney and Gordon might suggest differently to Fordham.

    • Bakkies

      Clubs usually pay for coaching courses themselves. The committee put forward coaches to do the relevant courses to the team they are coaching. I am pretty sure the RA want coaches to do courses every year which I believe is unreasonable and costly. Some of these courses go for two to three days. When you do the courses there should be refreshers where the coaching coordinators go out to clubs rather than having to do the whole thing again.

      Fordham is looking for more money to cover the cost of the broadcast. It costs the Sydney Rugby Union 300k a year to pay Channel 7 to broadcast the competition they usually pool the money from the finals to cover it. The money is supposed to go to the clubs themselves. The likes of de Clyne, Roger Davis should be raising the money themselves as Alan Jones told de Clyne last year from their mates in high and low places rather than doing it at the expense of the clubs.

      Clubs are having to fund junior development themselves as the state unions get pitiful money from the RA to spend on development officers. Twiggy’s Rugby Roos program is worth a look at as the Force players as part of their contractual obligations go out to schools and clubs themselves to deliver Rugby programs for the kids.

      You only have to look at the annual reports to see what the RA is wasting money on. There is money there they have got to stop throwing away precious funds on things that should be more self supportive and don’t get me started on their payouts. The 500k they paid out to Pulver despite him leaving a horrendous legacy would more than just cover the cost of the broadcast.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Totally agree with that. Gee to turn up and work the BBQ at school and make coffee’s for the fundraising events I have had to undergo training, it has to be done every second year. Whilst not as extensive as coaching training it is a total and utter waste of time and actually an impediment to the school attempting to raise money through social events.
        Coaching courses should be covered by RA. They certainly dont need to be run annually to maintain a qualification. that is just burdensome for volunteers. If they have done the full course, then a quick refresher every 2-3 years would seem adequate in my book. But hey then again what the fuck do I know about it.
        Christ my pilots licence (fixed wing and rotary) only requires a check flight every two years.

        • Bakkies

          Coaching courses should only be done every three years. You can ring the local coordinator to get extra assistance without having to do it again. If you are start at under 8s by the time the three years is up you nearly ready to do the foundation course which is related to coaching full pitch Rugby.

          Some coaches bring the manual from the course down to training and run drills off that. To me that doesn’t help the kids and they can sense that when a coach is relying on reading a book to teach them how to play the game. The kids don’t really have the attention span at minis age groups to be doing drill after drill. Basic handling, tackling, ball presentation and an introduction to the ruck is enough at that age group. They love playing games so make your sessions game oriented rather than drills focused. I have seen some under 9s coaches take up half the pitch (which eats in to the space that other coaches need) with cones. What the kids learn from that I have no idea.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yeah I agree.

        • Damo

          I managed to incorporate those important skills into real game situations from 13’s through to Colts (Club teams). Probably made up 70% of the session, forwards & backs together. Make it repetitive and build pressure. Make it competitive and they have fun. It seemed to work pretty well over the years.

        • Bakkies

          Yeah you can do it with earlier age groups they are learning and performing skills under pressure without realising it. Turn basic handling and carrying drills in to races. Kids like that.

          I have been to sessions led by pro coaches from NZ and they said the key from an early age is games and drills have to be relevant. Repetition is important.

          I got more out of that than some of the modules in the coaching course.

  • Missing Link

    RA needs to copy what Cricket Australia did to a tee, just without the sandpaper.

    The difference with CA is that they capitalised after the golden years on Ponting et al, by making some tough decisions, cutting funding to amatuer/semi pro comps, dissolving/absorbing state responsibilites, creating a marketable product to take to schools, junior clubs etc. Imagine if RA had done that in the late 90’s and early 2000’s just after we’d won the World Cup! instead, RA treaded water after 2003 which has resulted in the situation we are currently in.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Agree. Kids dont like to support losers. As mine tell me all of the time;
      “Dad when are the Reds actually going to win a game for once. Can we support the All Blacks?”

      • Funk

        “Can we support the All Blacks?”….If ever there was an excuse for corporal punishment…

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yes but the fact that my children view the mortal sin of supporting the Darkness as less of an evil than being total “losers” by supporting the Reds and the Wallabies, shows how children view things.
          If we win, we get the kids back!

        • Missing Link

          Tell them they are free to support the Darkness as long as they move to Invercargill

        • Brisneyland Local

          After returning from 2 weeks in Queenstown they want to move to NZ anyway.
          Mind you doubt they would want to move to Invercargill. Even people who live there dont want to stay there.

  • Dud Roodt

    I’m really not a fan of the idea of growing the RWC *yet*.
    We have seen vast improvements in Tier 2 and beyond teams in the past few years and the game is growing (everywhere except Australia) at a very fast rate.
    Let’s just get the RWC to a stage where as many teams as possible are competitive, maybe a couple more Cups with boil overs a la Japan and SA -THEN look at expanding.
    In the meantime, pump funding into Tier 2 and Tier 3 teams, really have a focus on making each team competitive (I would start by figuring out how you include Georgia and a Pacific Islands team into the 6N and RC tournaments respectively).

    • first time long time

      I’d be happy for them to grow it if they added a plate competition, to run parallel to the finals, for those who don’t make the qtrs.
      I think that would add a lot more competitive matches to the tournament.

      • Bakkies

        Not a fan of plate competitions at RWCs. It adds to the cost of hosting the tournament and players from these teams need to go back to their clubs. We see how much of a farce it is at the Junior World Cup where teams are playing off for 8th. It is demoralising enough playing in the 3rd/4th playoff.

        I couldn’t imagine the likes of England and Italy be willing to play in such a competition at the most recent RWC.

        • Braveheart81

          The Under 20 RWC works on the basis that every team plays 5 matches. As much as it’s about getting a winner it’s also about development. Under the current format if they got rid of that then 8 of the 12 teams would only play 3 matches.

          I agree with you though that the RWC shouldn’t have a plate comp even if it is expanded.

        • first time long time

          I can’t say I’ve worked through all outcomes but a plate comp, even if they were involved, wouldn’t be for the benefit of tier one nations it would be to give tier 2 teams more competitive games and something to play for
          I’m sure there are some pitfalls but some of the best games I’ve seen at a RWC were between the likes of Fiji and USA. If we can get some of the lower ranked tier 2 teams improving enough to push those on the fringes it would be great and maybe giving them something to play for would help.

        • first time long time

          You could make it for the bottom half of the table then you would avoid “insulting” or imposing on tier 1 nations who don’t make qtrs.

      • Dud Roodt

        I agree with Bakkies – I’m not a fan of the plate concept at all. As he has covered – I don’t see the bigger teams being keen on hanging around playing in the participation medal tournament if they’ve been knocked out.
        I just don’t think we should be going back to the bad old days of games like the 142-0 drubbing we gave Namibia in Adelaide. That helps no one

        • Bakkies

          Agreed DR. The next RWC will see one of England, France or Argentina exit at the pool stages.

          Namibia have improved massively they played the ABs at the last RWC and they weren’t out of place at all. Shame the Currie Cup fell through for them.

          With a small population I imagine they are relying on diaspora to fill their squad.

    • Bakkies

      I agree I wouldn’t expand the RWC just yet. There are new professional competitions launching in the next two to three years. They should bed these down first so more players get professional opportunities first so they are getting a good level of Rugby each week and conditioning. We saw the improvement in the Argentinian and Georgian players when they moved out of their amateur competitions at home and in to pro teams in France, UK and Ireland. The likes of Hernandez, Contepomi, Ledesma, Roncero, Cordero had years of pro Rugby experience by the time the Pumas made their run to the semis in the 2007 RWC.

      The last thing the RWC needs is to go back to having minnow teams loaded with amateurs playing a schedule of a a match every four days for the three to four weeks they are at the RWC.

  • Happyman

    Fellow GAGR’s
    Club rugby funding and the definition of grassroots is a vexed issue for starters. my definition of grassroots would be junior development under 17/18.
    Once a player goes to colts they are playing for two reasons either as a high level player or playing with mates for fun.
    Any funding of which we have none should be put into coaching of coaches (better coaches make better players). We should be aiming for any coach of a under 14 team or higher in any comp in Australia has access to level 2 coaching certificate at no cost. Currently the QRU/ RA changes for the privilege and it is an impediment for coaching and therefore player improvement.
    The Players involved in the next level Colts and up from there are actually pretty well served by the existing clubs. For mine those coaches should have access to Level 3 coaching certificates at no cost, again it improves education of coaches and improves play.
    There seems to be a bit of the Pulver argument that they will only piss it up against the wall. I think that if people knew how all clubs across Australia were doing a shitload with not much it would shock them.
    An unfortunate truth is that the Shute Shield and the Qld Premier Rugby are the two best competitions in the country any funds should used biased towards improving the structures of the other competitions so we can broaden our base.
    Another unfortunate truth is that I know the cost of the entire QRU premier rugby competition colts programs of all clubs would be less that the cost of a Michael Hooper I know where I would be putting my money. Currently the clubs receive no funding from the QRU/RA for this program and that is where the Wallabies of tomorrow come from.

    • Brisneyland Local


  • Brendan Hume

    Just on the grassroots – great coaches and great referees are the key to people continuing to enjoy playing community rugby at any age. The game is fantastic, but it’s hugely complex. Build depth in these areas and watch the game flourish.

    I see grassroots as any level below NRC – where people pay to play the game and volunteers administer the game.

    Throwing some brain power towards improving the experience of rugby for grassroots participants – enabling tours (assisting with logistics, match-ups, etc), enabling access to the highest levels of training for coaches and players (ie have high performing coaches and players attend super rugby/NRC sessions and join in), and recognizing volunteers (sending recognized volunteers to a SR game and assisting with flights and accomodation, promoting what’s going on at the grass roots in the media)…

    All of this will assist to rebuild the goodwill that has been eroded by RA. Currently there is a pipeline of cash away from clubs to RA and the State Unions…

    • Bakkies

      Exactly I was involved with a squad that improved hugely I had to move on due to personal circumstances changing. I am still in touch with them. The kids sadly regressed due to mismanagement (yeah sadly that the RA style management occurs in grassroots clubs) and it got to the point last year where they were looking for a head coach two weeks before they were due back for training. It was a key season too as kids could go in to rep programs and they played in a province wide comp against big clubs.

  • Ruggaman

    Castle should have stayed quite. She sounds utterly inept at understanding how grassroots rugby actually effects the game. …….Hmmmmmm


Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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