CAMPO: Australian rugby needs to better support the grassroots

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Australian Wallabies Robert Horne is tackled during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. AAP Image/AFP, Franck Fife

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It was another bleak week of Super Rugby for the majority of the Australian teams, with the Reds getting carved up by a pretty weak Force side and the Waratahs going back into their shells again.

It really highlights the lack of depth in local rugby at the moment.

There just isn’t the talent pool here that there is in New Zealand and South Africa. If an Australian team loses a couple of key players, the back-ups they bring in generally aren’t up to the standard required to make an impact at this level.

The Reds are a case in point.

Without Cooper, the team is struggling. The players simply didn’t look interested on the weekend and I’d say, based on that performance, they’re gone for this season. What’s more, Genia’s form has slumped dramatically without that creative spark inside of him to take the pressure off.

The Force played well against a Reds side that have now been belted two weeks in a row, but they haven’t got the players to be a serious threat this season.

The same goes for the Rebels, who were thumped by the Highlanders and don’t have the combinations needed to perform consistently in Super Rugby.

And then we get to the Waratahs, who were disappointing, again, a week after the vocal criticism had woken them and encouraged them to play good rugby. They need to learn that a positive win the previous week won’t win them the game the week after.

They also need to understand that you can’t make mistakes, then just give any ball they do get straight back to the opposition. They’re just not respecting possession.

But it all comes back to the grassroots of Australian rugby.

It is being neglected by the administration who prefer instead to throw money at the top end of the game and forget about getting young players involved. As a result, we’re being killed by AFL and rugby league, who look after their grassroot player base very well by using ex-players to promote the game.

In rugby, the officials are threatened by us and don’t want us involved,

So Australian rugby is failing on two major levels: it’s not doing enough to encourage the kids to play and love the game, and the decision-makers are continually appointing foreign coaches to senior roles within Wallabes.

We got a further example of that this week when it was revealed that new coaching co-ordinator, Tony McGahan (who himself has just finished up a stint at Irish club Munster), is likely to appoint former Edinburgh and Scotland A coach Nick Scrivener as the Wallabies scrum coach.

Andrew Blades is the other option. Why not give it to him? Or better yet, get Ewen McKenzie involved.

Until Australian rugby gets serious about the development and promotion of the game in this country, the Wallabies will continue to struggle against the stronger rugby nations.

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