There must be some positives about Australian rugby, right?

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    Finally a decision about Super Rugby has been made.

    One thing that really strikes me about the reaction to cutting the Force is that it’s the wrong decision, but very little has been said about the right decision to keep the Rebels. There is sure to be further legal action, but I find it pretty unlikely that the decision will be changed, certainly before 2018.

    But it’s time to put the whole sorry saga behind us and attempt to unify Australian rugby. Despite the negativity surrounding the game, there has to be something positive to look forward to, right?

    For starters, the biggest match of the year is just one week away. The Lions showed that the All Blacks are in fact human, so an opportunity exists for the Wallabies to claim their first major scalp in some time. One can hope, anyway!

    After the poor showing in the June series, the time is now for Michael Cheika to show his worth as a motivating coach and instil some belief in his charges. The game needs the boost of a respectable showing, so win, lose or draw, let’s hope the hard work we’ve been hearing about delivers some positives. And despite the Wallabies’ performances in the last two years, the international game in general is in great health.

    The NRC gets underway in a few weeks, which, despite minimal traction within the rugby community and indeed beyond, is a great competition achieving its primary objective of providing opportunity in a high-performance environment.

    According to Rugby Union Players Association, of the 53 players to debut at Australian Super Rugby clubs in 2017, over 70 per cent previously played in the NRC. Dave Wessels, Nick Stiles and Dan McKellar have all also been head coaches at NRC level prior to taking up Super Rugby head coaching roles.

    Having watched a bit of the Shute Shield on 7Two, I feel like there has been a step up in quality recently, which can only be helped by the NRC. It would be great to get some NRC games on free-to-air like they have with club rugby.

    I applaud the creation of a national coaching advisory panel, and let’s hope Rod Kafer can create a culture of high performance and inclusion among coaches nationwide. They must also ensure that Dave Wessels is put in charge of the Rebels immediately. He seems to be the best young coach in the country, so simply put he must take over at the Rebels.

    Securing Mick Byrne’s services will also be a major long term boost to the professional game. It will take some years for the effects to show, but his appointment is a change for the better.

    The clear out of the ARU executive also presents the chance for serious cultural change. Let’s hope they can appoint some independent, innovative sports administrators without ties to state-based factions.

    There needs to be clear two, five and ten year plans to solidify and expand the game, with key issues including stopping the player drain to Europe and Japan, re-engaging disenfranchised fans, building the national profile of the game – including greater media coverage and more free-to-air games – and perhaps hosting the 2027 World Cup.

    These are challenging times indeed for the game they play in heaven. As a rusted on fan, I need to think there will be some long term improvements – if nothing else, my own sanity depends on it!

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