Force and Rebels are paying the price for hapless ARU

Matt Simpson Roar Pro

By Matt Simpson, Matt Simpson is a Roar Pro

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    There has been a stench coming out of ARU headquarters for a while, and like a jerk that farts in a freefalling elevator, they are going to blame it on either the Rebels or Force.

    It was only April 14 last year when ARU journalist Beth Newman celebrated the ARU’s new strategic plan and released an article on the official website titled “ARU committed to Super Rugby expansion”.

    Head honchos Bill Pulver and Cameron Clyne were quoted, talking about hilarious ideas like supporting all Super Rugby teams and increasing participation at grassroots level.

    I am not sure if this was a lie, or whether in true ARU fashion they wanted it released on April Fools’ Day but couldn’t decide in time.

    Exactly one year, one month and five days on (and just over 25 per cent of the way through the strategic plan timeframe), the ARU seems to have decided that that was a silly idea. From now on, SANZAAR happiness is the only reason for their existence.

    The ARU set four key delivery areas in their 2016-2020 strategic plan:
    • Make rugby a game for all
    • Ignite Australia’s passion for the game
    • Build sustainable elite success
    • Create excellence in how the game is run

    Credit where it is due, an Olympic gold medal in the Women’s Sevens was great. It will be interesting to see how the University Sevens competition fares. That has gone some way to make rugby a game for all.

    As for the other three goals, well, they are failing dismally. In fact, if the decision to cut a team is followed through with (Michael Cheika has done the smart thing and said it might not happen, because we need more uncertainty), the strategic plan is a failure already. We will officially have no direction.

    Igniting passion
    The best outcome they can hope for is that either Perth or Melbourne still care by the time this whole drama is resolved (if ever). At least you can now see Super Rugby on free-to-air, at the prime time of 8am Sunday morning, right after home shopping. Which is difficult if you need to go to a pub to watch the games live and exclusive on Fox Sports.

    Sustainable elite success
    They are cutting teams that have recently provided the Wallabies with the likes of Adam Coleman, Reece Hodge, Sean McMahon, Lopeti Timani, and Dane Haylett-Petty.

    The NRC was launched in 2014 to bridge the gap between club and Super Rugby. With eight NRC teams feeding into five Super Rugby teams, the sums seem about right for elite development.

    If money is the issue, will this be cut as well? What will happen to the pathway from the Perth Spirit and Melbourne Rising? Does anyone notice that Perth won it last year and Melbourne have made all three finals series?

    Bill Pulver Cameron Clyne press conference

    Create excellence in how the game is run
    Erm… The Roar‘s own David Lord and Spiro Zavos have well and truly summed up, on multiple occasions, how well this is going. Even if these two esteemed experts are ever wrong, the ARU is completely incapable of managing bad press (or good press for that matter).

    Further, the Victorian Rugby Union and Rugby Union Players Association have called for an emergency general meeting. The ARU responded with ‘Oh, that’s easy, let’s have a meeting next week! Not an EGM though’. What was stopping this happening earlier?

    So we will have a game run by an organisation unable to achieves the goals it set only 13 months ago. Who is accountable?

    A city of current and future rugby nuts is going to suffer. I live in Ballarat, Victoria, and have always followed the Rebels. I have watched my own club, the mighty Rattas, go from not having enough players to field teams for finals, to this year running our first junior program, and it’s a similar story across the state.

    A large part of this has been possible due to the Rebels’ engagement (Sean McMahon introduced himself to me in Ballarat, and I swear I was so shocked I fainted a little bit, great lad!). I am sure the story in Perth is similar. Yet we are about to surrender an area with possibilities and evidence of proper growth.

    If we can achieve the ARU’s strategic goals, at local and state level, why can’t the ARU?

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    The Crowd Says (71)

    • May 19th 2017 @ 5:38am
      John said | May 19th 2017 @ 5:38am | ! Report

      Well said

    • May 19th 2017 @ 6:03am
      PM said | May 19th 2017 @ 6:03am | ! Report

      Great piece mate.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 6:29am
      rebel said | May 19th 2017 @ 6:29am | ! Report

      Sorry to buck the stereotype portrayed in another article today, but this AB supporter agrees with you 100%.
      You don’t expand by cutting sides. I’m sure the rugby community across this land can band together to come up with the vital 8 odd million that is the driver of the ARUs reasoning for cutting the game.

      • Roar Guru

        May 19th 2017 @ 9:53am
        Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        You don’t expand by cutting sides

        Absolutely. The prospect of cutting a team is absolutely a negative result for Australian rugby. To get to where we need to be we need more teams which would feed more coverage.

        I’m sure the rugby community across this land can band together to come up with the vital 8 odd million that is the driver of the ARUs reasoning for cutting the game.

        I can’t help but feel that if this was the case, we wouldn’t be where we are now. Half the people complaining about this are the types like Squirrel who say they don’t even support professional rugby any more and have been calling for cutting a team like the Force for years.

        Part of the reason why there is so much support for 5 is because many like Squirrel just want a reason to complain about the ARU.

        • May 19th 2017 @ 10:08pm
          rebel said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:08pm | ! Report

          There are some seriously well off rugby people. We should not be in this position.
          What the game also lacks is a voice. We need someone in there getting the game heard.
          Hopefully a rethink of 3 6 team conferences gets a run. It may just work.

          • May 20th 2017 @ 8:16am
            Train Without A Station said | May 20th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

            Rebel I can’t help but feel that it would have been a much more appealing option.

            We do have a lot of well off people in rugby. But that’s the issue. These people didn’t get wealthy by making bad investments and that’s what sport generally is.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 3:48pm
        Rico said | May 19th 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

        Start with the ARU board,should be some savings there

        • Roar Guru

          May 19th 2017 @ 3:56pm
          Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

          Most are unpaid or earn as little as $20k per year.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 20th 2017 @ 1:32am
            DubaiKiwi said | May 20th 2017 @ 1:32am | ! Report

            then what the hell is the 14.5 million corporate expenses spent on.

            • May 20th 2017 @ 8:18am
              Train Without A Station said | May 20th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

              Rent, the other 100 odd employees, preparing national programs that all sports have, ensuring the maximise government grants, etc.

              Much like the IRFU, WRU, etc

              • May 21st 2017 @ 10:47pm
                Bakkies said | May 21st 2017 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

                What about the lunches and junkets?

    • Roar Guru

      May 19th 2017 @ 7:46am
      Who Needs Melon said | May 19th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      One of the best, most spot-on articles I’ve read for a long while.

      If they are reversing the ‘commitments’ they made 12 months ago, who’s to believe any commitments they make now?

      I know what the ARU response will be: One ARU staffer to another: “See I told you we shouldn’t be publishing anything definitive on our website!”

    • May 19th 2017 @ 8:30am
      ScottD said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      well constructed and written piece mate.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 8:36am
      Hannes said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      The ARU needs business and rugby sense. It makes no sense to cut rugby teams in areas where rugby is growing. Rather consolidate in mature markets by merging Brumbies and Tahs and fund the areas you are growing. Vested Sydney centric thinking is killing rugby in Australia.

      • Roar Guru

        May 19th 2017 @ 8:57am
        Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        But are they growing simply because of their smaller base to grow from?

        Unless we believe their growth will be sustained for long periods it’s not that useful.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 2:57pm
        Hannes said | May 19th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

        There is still a lot of growth left of you look at the difference between AFL and rugby union. The base is not that small anymore WA is 3rd after the declining player base.in NSW and QLD. This has been achieved with little media coverage, a team that consistently underperformed and an ARU that underfunded and undermined WA Rugby over more than a decade. Why would any good business man cut funding to a growing business to fund a declining business. It does not make rugby or business sense.

        • Roar Guru

          May 19th 2017 @ 3:16pm
          Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

          There is a lot of room for growth.

          What has the growth been like in WA from 2012 to 2017?

          • May 19th 2017 @ 5:49pm
            ScottD said | May 19th 2017 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

            Massive
            Junior team numbers have doubled

            I think there are 380 or so junior teama now
            The WARU game the exact number to Alan Jones on his show 2 weeks ago if anyone wants to dig up the transcript

            • May 19th 2017 @ 8:19pm
              Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:19pm | ! Report

              Since 2012?

          • May 22nd 2017 @ 4:01pm
            Hannes said | May 22nd 2017 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

            Also woman’s rugby is on par with QLD.

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