Rocky Elsom (76)
Hallelujah to this:
Crucial time for Australian rugby
- by: Bret Harris
- From:The Australian
- October 21, 20126:48PM
MONDAY is D-Day for Australian rugby.
Former Labor politician Mark Arbib will present his review into the governance of Australian rugby to the ARU board.
Initiated by retiring ARU CEO John O'Neill 12 months ago, the Arbib Report will will be the biggest shake-up in the history of Australian rugby and will bring the game into the 21st century.
Arbib is expected to recommend the ARU move away from its antiquated, federated model of governance towards an AFL-style independent commission.
It is a model that cricket, rugby league and soccer have all considered or followed.
If the ARU does not take this historic step towards modernising its governance, rugby runs the risk of becoming a boutique sport in this country.
Rugby can no longer afford to be administered by a model that belongs in a museum.
The game is strong in the traditional heartland states of NSW and Queensland, but if it is to challenge AFL and even the NRL in popularity, it has to grow nationally.
To do this rugby must be further developed in what are officially referred to as the "other" states and territories - ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.
Securing ARU board approval for an independent commission is only the first step towards governance reform.
The real challenge for ARU chairman Michael Hawker and key directors such as Peter Cosgrove is to convince NSW and Queensland to support constitutional change.
The ARU constitution was written in 1949 and is weighted heavily in favour of NSW and Queensland.
If the ARU approves an independent commission, it will have to be ratified at an extraordinary general meeting of the member unions.
Any constitutional change requires a 75 per cent majority of the member unions.
The member unions have 14 votes. NSW has five, Queensland three and the other states and territories one each.
This means in effect that NSW can veto any proposal.
NSW is the largest member union and it produdces 60 per cent of Australia's players. Why should it give up any power? Power it has held for the entire history of the game in this country.
The answer is pretty simple. Australian rugby needs to modernise its governance to ensure the game grows nationally, not just in the heartland states.
If Australian rugby does not embrace independent governance, the future of the game will be very uncertain.
This probably deserves a thread of its own.
If NSWRU effectively have the power to veto implementation of any change to the ARU Constitution, do NFJ and the team running NSWRU have the intent to endorse an independent commission, or any genuine constitutional modernisation?