CAMPO: Dear rugby fans, don’t shoot the messenger
Australia's David Campese escapes a tackle. AP Photo/Brian Little
I’ve been reading the comments on The Roar in response to my columns and it’s been interesting to see what people write into the site about. Some have been critical of my opinions, some supportive.
But it’s important to remember that I’m always motivated by a genuine love of the game, which is why I care so much about its future.
Whenever I give an opinion on how I think rugby should be played, particularly in Australia, it seems to be interpreted by many that I’m making it out to be the end of the world; a monumental crisis.
I’m not trying to suggest that at all.
What I do want to see is rugby played in a positive and entertaining manner, with the players going out there to play a style of rugby that will keep the crowd happy. And coming back for more.
That’s what it should be about: creating an entertaining product that can be enjoyed by the players and fans alike.
Unfortunately, as I’ve addressed in my columns, the current rugby hierarchy in Australia seems to be working against these principles and instead encouraging a bland, negative style of play for our Super and national teams that failed at the last World Cup, and if not careful, will see more of the same in 2012.
The message behind everything I’ve been saying is very simple: the basic skills of players in Australia are not where they should be.
Want the proof? Look at the Super standings. All Australian teams are in the negative. There’s not one team in the positive side of the For and Against ledger.
I was once a player who could have an impact on the way things went on the field. But now, as a journalist, I hope my point of view can make a difference. And I wouldn’t be giving it if I wasn’t passionate about rugby.
Why would I? I cop enough flack for it.
I also coach rugby to kids, showing them the basic skills and, hopefully, instilling a love for the game at an early age. I do this in South Africa, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia predominantly, because my contributions there are welcomed with open arms.
Why? Because I’ve got an opinion and I’m not afraid to express it.
Someone asked me on The Roar about the grassroots and what I would do to address that problem in Australia.
Well, the answer is straightforward: use some of the former players who the kids know and respect to promote the game here and go around to the schools and see who would like to win a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics.
Get the kids’ idols out to meet the stars and be able to interact with them.
This would build more excitement about the game amongst those youngsters who are increasingly being lost to league and AFL.
For me, the best opportunities for this are there in South Africa, the UK, and Asia. It’s strange that these are the countries who, when I played, loved the way I played the game and respect me both on and off the field.
But sadly, the same doesn’t apply in Australia.