Hate promoting Alan Jones and particularly when he’s far from neutral (and may be wrong about funding from what I recall) but there are some good points in this rant:
“Anyone who believes that rugby in this country isn’t in a mess and not in need of drastic overhaul is either ignorant or delusional.
There was a time when Schoolboy rugby was the breeding ground for Wallaby success. My own teams were full of young men who had first distinguished themselves as Australian Schoolboys. Making a Schoolboy side was a badge worn with honour.
I mentioned last week that you’d need a highly trained battalion of SAS fighters to penetrate the “mates club” that rugby clearly has become.
Nowhere is this more apparent, sadly, than in the highest levels of Australian Schoolboy rugby.
St Edmund’s College in Canberra has been a significant breeding ground for Schoolboy rugby talent. That doesn’t mean that those associated with St Edmund’s are entitled to treat Schoolboy rugby as a private fiefdom.
It’s often said that it’s invidious to mention names. Well, I’m sorry, that rule must go out the door because the facts speak for themselves.
Bob Wallace, from St Edmund’s, is the president of the Australian Schools Rugby Union.
Pat Langtry is an executive member of the Australian Schools Rugby Union Committee and also a teacher at St Edmund’s. Langtry was coach of Australian Schoolboys from 1999 to 2017. To take just the last three encounters against the New Zealand Schoolboys, we lost 32-8 in 2015; 32-22 and 2016; 34-11 in 2017.
With a 20 per cent win rate against New Zealand Schoolboys, it’s as if Langtry has been allowed to vote for himself as coach for the last 20 years.
Andrew Maloney is also part of what I see to be the St Edmund’s “club”. He played for Langtry at St Edmund’s, then taught at St Edmund’s. He was brought into the Australian Schoolboys coaching team that in the past three years has been hammered by New Zealand.
Until Rugby Australia — who fund the Australian Schools Rugby Union, but have no control over these appointments or selections — unapologetically proclaim and practice a commitment to merit and results, then we are going to lose the best young talent to rugby league.
At NSW and Australian level, the coaching and selection don’t appear to be up to it. And just about every year, though it might be unpalatable to chronicle, there’s a major blow-up by parents and the media about selections.
Last year, the Australian Schoolboys coach, Langtry, was the sole selector. Not good enough when you are not getting results. There’s only one way out of this dilemma. Our best young players should be picked on merit and they should be coached by the best.
If Rugby Australia wants to move forward, to use the Donald Trump expression, they are going to have to clean the swamp.
I guess I should declare my hand here. I picked Brian Smith on the 1986 Wallabies tour of New Zealand at 19 years of age. He was an outstanding success, a member of the Wallabies team that won the Bledisloe Cup in New Zealand against the All Blacks.
He was in the 1987 Rugby World Cup team. He played rugby for Queensland and for New South Wales — very successfully. He was the coaching co-ordinator at the Brumbies when they were Super Rugby finalists in 2001. He was the head coach of London Irish for six years, making the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup and the English Rugby Premiership.
He was the attack coach for the England national side when they won the Calcutta Cup for two years in a row, the Cook Cup and were quarter-finalists in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He then came back to Australia to be the head coach and director of rugby at the Scots College in Sydney.
Under his coaching, Scots won the GPS Premiership, no easy task, in 2015, 2016 and were undefeated premiers in 2017.
The great Jonny Wilkinson once wrote of Smith, who coached Wilkinson with the England team, “Tactically, he has a very sharp view of the game. And for me, he possesses the unique ability to combine his vision as a ‘big picture’ experienced coach who can advise and inform with an on-the-field ‘smaller picture’ players’ view. This combination allows him to drive the team as well as clearly relate to and communicate the role of the individual within any pattern or analysis.”
Wrote Wilkinson, “Brian is a superb mentor, strong valued, a good listener, very hard working and concerned only with making sure that he, his fellow coaches and his squad of players, both individually and collectively, were doing their job to the best of their ability and always getting better.”
Smith is one of many young coaches whom I have encouraged to continue in the game to produce players with the values and standards that have been part and parcel of his personal success. Of some significance, Smith also has a BA from Oxford and a master’s degree in political science.
Why am I saying this? Well, he was an applicant for the coaching of the 2018 Australian Schoolboys. He was unsuccessful.
The appointment went to Maloney — part of the coaching “team” that has been hammered by New Zealand in the past three years. It looks to me like he is part of the St Edmund’s “club”.
Rugby can’t succeed while it appears to reward members of “the club” and lacks objectivity and knowledge in the making of decisions.
The fact that I have known and coached Smith since 1986 is irrelevant. What is relevant is that for such a prestigious job, formative in the development of Australian rugby, there should be external, independent and knowledgeable people reviewing all applicants on the basis of merit and proven success.
If I was running Rugby Australia and funding the Schoolboys Rugby Union, I’d want better value for my money than we’re getting.
It’s hard to believe that disillusioned rugby followers, parents and players, would not feel the same way. And disillusioned applicants at all levels no doubt will decide they have better things to do with their time.”