It is time for Rugby to build a unity bridge

Rickety Knees Roar Guru

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    We are all aware of players such as Lloyd McDermott, the Ella Brothers, Lloyd Walker and Kurtley Beale, and what they have brought to rugby.

    I have a close connection with the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people of the Simpson Desert and have witnessed first-hand the wonderful programs the AFL are running for these indigenous people. They are producing a production line of top-class players for AFL Clubs.

    Sadly the majority of Australians have never met an Aboriginal person. Many of us largely see our indigenous people, living on the margins of our society, through eyes that have been ingrained with cultural and societal prejudices (prejudices we are unaware of). Witness Sydney University’s inability, over more than 100 years, to take rugby across the road into Redfern.

    Thankfully kids make friends easily and rugby makes brothers.

    So what can be done? Rugby can build a bridge between boys outside of the Northern Territory and boys playing rugby in the Northern Territory. The idea is for the Australian Rugby Union to facilitate tours up to the Darwin with the agreed purpose of inviting/hosting teams back next year.

    The idea is to build relationships that will, on a level, straddle the racial divide. On another level it will encourage Northern Territory kids to play rugby, as it provides them with the incentive of travelling and experiencing other Australians who will make them feel welcome. It will provide all young Australians with the opportunity to enjoy what rugby has to offer.

    In the process who knows what may happen: perhaps the next Mark Ella or Kurtley Beale will be discovered.

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 5:04am
      Matthew Skellett said | March 2nd 2012 @ 5:04am | ! Report

      Well good for you for speaking up about this issue Rickety , Rugby should like all national sports be about EQUITY JUSTICE AND TRANSPARENCY , BUT sadly it is for the most part despite all the nice words said about ‘inclusion'(ask the public school boys when it comes to rep selection)it is the EXACT OPPOSITE of these ideals .

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 6:06am
      mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 6:06am | ! Report

      australia is an embarrassment on how it treats its aborigines. RK, you think you can stroll into rugby and play? dream on, they dont even let public school kids into rugby. i was disgusted the way that aborigines were treated and talked about when i lived in aus. calling aborigines “lazy black b4stards” to the face of an islander was astounding. when i asked the protagonist whether they realised what colour i was he replied “oh but your not like those lazy c#$ts” i was stunned. unfortunately this wasnt a one off occassion.

      i’ve argued this for decades. until ARU gets off its a55 and losses this elitist mentality and starts by embracing the entire population instead of the upper class private schools kids then aus will always be a team that is almost at the top. after over a 100 years tho i doubt it.

      not saying tha nz has been lilly white. thru out the 70’s and 80’s PI’s and esp Samoans were seen as 2nd class citizens and frowned upon. dawn raids were prevalent and poly’s had the worst low paying menial jobs. Islanders were called fobs and racial disdain and hate were thinly vieled. this all changed post 1991 when suddenly Samoans were being looked at as hard humble workers and great value to the community. the big change? 1991 WC, Samoa put themselves on the rugby world map and became the WC sweet hearts. Poly’s started making the AB’s and NZ accepted and embraced its PI’s. this is a sad portrayal of NZ as a nation but a great indicator of how rugby creates brothers. i’m sad for my country in that it took something as simple and silly as rugby to be accepted in society, but i understand the power of rugby to unite people

      RK your right to want aborigines to be part of rugby. it creates a brotherhood that see’s through so much social barriers but in aus its not a brother hood. its an elitest, snobby old boys club. i said this when chris walker and anthony mundine didnt make the aus rugby league side, come to NZ we dont care what your colour is. if u can play your one of us.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 8:10am
        terry said | March 2nd 2012 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        samoans success in nz is a combination of strong church/christian values, good parenthood, strong cultural sense/pride, good leadership and being very good at rugby..

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:48am
          mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:48am | ! Report

          terry, have to argue there about the “strong church/christian values, good parenthood” though agree about the rest

          • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:55am
            Justin said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:55am | ! Report

            wells lets say they go to church and leave it at that…

            • March 2nd 2012 @ 10:11am
              mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 10:11am | ! Report

              from my experience they’re usually the worst. church one day party up hard the rest of the week. not saying that thats bad, more its a right of passage for island boys and girls.
              i believe the difference is, and i tell my kids this, that its all about,( and i quote terry here) “cultural sense/pride”.
              when i find out about guys like troyPolamalu, Mosi Tatupu, KingKapisi, BrianLima i feel pride. when i hear about PI’s that are negative in society i feel shame. i always tell my kids to remember who they are and that they’re representing a nation and the world is watching.

              • March 2nd 2012 @ 10:46am
                Justin said | March 2nd 2012 @ 10:46am | ! Report

                Essentially what I was alluding to above mania, we have both seen both sides of the coin.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 8:15am
        mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 8:15am | ! Report

        chris walker should be andrew walker

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 8:52am
          allblackfan said | March 2nd 2012 @ 8:52am | ! Report

          mania, does this mean you don’t consider maori to be Pacific Islanders?

          • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:02am
            mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:02am | ! Report

            no they PI’s, just the era didnt apply to them. maori have been hard done by a lot longer than the 70’s and 80’s

          • March 2nd 2012 @ 2:21pm
            Rugbug said | March 2nd 2012 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

            As someone of Maori decent no I would not class myself as a Pacific Islander, I am polynesian with a touch of Maltese / greek in me but I never see myself as a pacific Islander. Although technically speaking all New Zealanders could claim they are pacific Islanders as the Islands of NZ are in the South Pacific Ocean, Polynesian is a ethnicity, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Kiwi etc is the culture of the respective Islands
            My mother would have slapped you upside the head if you even called her a polynesian, she is very much of the old school where she is Maori and Maori only although we all know Maori are polynesians, then again many of my aunties / uncles and kaumatua would also baulk at the suggestion they are PI or polynesian I guess its a generational thing.
            I would not say that Samoan people were accepted because they were good rugby players it was because they were good people first and foremost, sure rugby helped however it was not the catalyst for acceptance.
            The Dawn raids were abhorent and it is a blight on New Zealand society but as Justin says there are two sides to every story and at the time there were a huge and disproportionate number of overstayers in NZ. I’m not making excuses for what the government did there really is no excuse for the way they conducted themselves and in hindsight could have done much better.
            What sets NZ apart is that it has and continues to accept the roles it has played in many of the dire situations culturally and racially within this country. I do find after returning to NZ after living in Australia how much more tolerant and accepting NZ is not just of race but of religion, sexuality etc.
            I have nothing against Australia but when it comes to tolerance it still has a way to go, if sports can help i’m all for it.

      • Roar Guru

        March 2nd 2012 @ 8:45am
        Rickety Knees said | March 2nd 2012 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        mania, the ARU is making great strides – we have just had a wonderful ARU run 7s Rugby tournament here on the Central Coast with 13 local high schools participating – 12 of them public. Around 180 13 year old boys played for the inuagural Jesse Parahi Cup (Jesse played junior Rugby for Avoca Sharks and now plays 7s for Australia).

        My article is about Rugby community to Rugby community engagement.

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:00am
          mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:00am | ! Report

          yeah RK i know i’m not being very constructive here, but it just amazes how after a century of rugby ARU is only jsut getting round to providing these kinds of tournaments to the people and the masses.
          i’m not just talking about the indigenous people i’m also alluding to the lower classes.
          when i played social rugby in aus i was surprised at the mentality of the private school educated populated clubs. i grew up lower class and felt out of place in a rugby club with all the spoilt rich kids who had no real life experiences. i went and played league instead for the time i was there. met a lot of aborigines in league and thats when i realised that i hadnt seen any at the rugby club or on the rugby field. this was back in 1997 to1999
          ARU making great strives? imo nowhere near enough. with the all the money they’ve made from SR in the last 15 years they should be doing more. with all the rugby over the last 100 years this tournament is shameful in that it should’ve happened alot sooner.

          • Roar Guru

            March 2nd 2012 @ 9:06am
            Rickety Knees said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:06am | ! Report

            mania – there is no denying history which hangs heavy on us adults. That is why we can start something new through the kids who are not shackled by what has been.

            • March 2nd 2012 @ 10:01am
              mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 10:01am | ! Report

              good luck RK. you have an up hill battle . start something new and better and hopefully the rest of populace will take notice and have pride in your achievements.

            • March 2nd 2012 @ 2:27pm
              Rugbug said | March 2nd 2012 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

              All credit to you RK, everything has to start somewhere and it only takes one person to get the ball rolling.
              Does the Northen territory have any representation in any domestic leagues of any sports in Australia?
              i don’t ever recall them in any of the competitions when I was living there, NRL 0 AFL 0 SR 0 ANBL 0 A League 0

              • Roar Guru

                March 2nd 2012 @ 2:36pm
                Rickety Knees said | March 2nd 2012 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

                Thanks RB – Darwin has a strong Rugby community with – as far as I know – the only junior Rugby Comp in the NT.

                As Mao once said “a journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step”.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 10:09am
        nickoldschool said | March 2nd 2012 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        Agree 100% with what you say mate. there is this ‘private school boys ‘mentality around Oz rugby union. When i arrived here and said i had played union, first question most aussies were asking was “oh, did you study in a private school”? i didnt get it at first but then realised that most ppl here still associate union to being privileged/rich or studying in private schools.

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 10:14am
          mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          Nick is this recent? i was there playing in 97-99 and it was like that then and that was 15 years ago

          • March 2nd 2012 @ 10:24am
            nickoldschool said | March 2nd 2012 @ 10:24am | ! Report

            I arrived in Oz in 2000 and got that straight away. Even now when i meet new ppl through work etc and told them i played union, many still ask me the same question.

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 7:37am
      BML said | March 2nd 2012 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      Glad you stepped up to the plate Rickety Knees- good article. You can give credit to the Brumbies for their work with our 1st nations people in the top end. They go out promoting the game to schools and the communities when they are in town. As far as locally grown kids are concerned there is the Lloyd Mc Dermott foundation that annually brings Indigenous kids together to fight it out for selection in a national rep side. The issue of ‘not being” a private school rep is alive and kicking but what I have seen the issue is more about “who daddy is or which school he played for” is still alive and kicking with the old boys club. I hope all those people reading this column will support and assist our 1st nations kids to develop in Rugby

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 7:54am
      p.Tah said | March 2nd 2012 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      This starts today. From the ARU

      “The 2012 Gambling Help Ella 7s Rugby Tournament is set to light up Coffs Harbour this weekend when the fifth instalment of the two-day tournament kicks-off on Friday.

      The annual Ella 7s Rugby Tournament, established in 2008, is the marquee event for the Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team (LMRDT), which aims to promote Rugby among young Indigenous men and women.

      This year a total of 32 teams, 24 men’s and eight women’s sides, will compete over two-days for $30,000 in prize money and the chance to be crowned the Ella 7s champions in 2012.

      There is also the added incentive for players to perform at their best, with the 2012 tournament acting as a selection tool for the Men’s and Women’s National Indigenous Sevens Teams.

      The tournament and its association with Australia’s Indigenous Rugby stars is key to the development of the sport’s profile among Indigenous athletes, as LMRDT Executive Officer Tom Evans explains.

      “The Ellas are synonymous with running Rugby and Sevens and epitomise what this tournament stands for,” Evans said.

      “The aim of the tournament is to provide indigenous Rugby players an opportunity to showcase their talent and potentially un-earth the next Ella brother or Kurtley Beale of Australian Rugby.”

      In all, this year’s tournament will feature seven former Indigenous Wallabies stars, in the form of players, coaches and spectators. All three Ellas will be in attendance, with Mark and Glen coaching the Nambucca Neptunes and La Pa Lovelies respectively while brother Gary will be watching keenly from the grandstand.

      Former Wallaby and Australian Men’s Sevens player Andrew Walker and former Australian Men’s Sevens player Tim Cornforth will compete in the tournament as members of the Boomanulla Knight Riders.

      Former Wallabies Lloyd Walker, coach of the Boomanulla Knight Riders, Jim Williams and Lloyd McDermott will also be in attendance along with former Wallaroo Selena Tranter, who has been named head coach of the National Indigenous Women’s Sevens Team.

      Evans is pleased with the support shown to the tournament by some of the greats of the game, as it provides perspective to the young, up-and-coming Indigenous Rugby players in the tournament.

      “It gives the whole thing context. It shows the history of the game and the Indigenous players that have been a part of it,” Evans said.

      “It provides an avenue for Indigenous people to have a link to Rugby. It’s a great opportunity to unearth talented players.”

      Following the tournament, National Indigenous Sevens Teams coaches Selena Tranter and Glen Ella will select their sides.

      Trantor’s mind will be on the inaugural Australian Rugby Union National Women’s Sevens Championships being held at Sydney’s St. Ignatius Riverview April 13 to 15.

      While Glen’s attention will be focused on a number of domestic tournaments in 2012, including Gold Coast, Noosa and Central Coast events toward the end of the year.

      The 2012 Gambling Help Ella 7s Rugby Tournament gets underway Friday at 6:30pm, with 12 games scheduled for the first day. Action resumes Saturday at 9am with games running until 12:30pm, before knockout finals get underway at 1:20pm. The final championship game is scheduled for 5:50pm Saturday.”

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 8:13am
        mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        not a lot of non-indigenous (read = white) rugby players involved are there?

        this line cracks me up from Tom Evans …
        “It gives the whole thing context. It shows the history of the game and the Indigenous players that have been a part of it,”
        classic, yeah the history of 8 players over 110 years of rugby in aus. those 8 players? Kurtley Beale , Gary , Glen & Mark Ella, Anthony & Saia Fainga’a, Andrew Walker , Jim Williams.
        the Faaingaa brothers i didnt even realise were aborigines, which is probably how they got past the selectors

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:13am
          Queen George said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:13am | ! Report

          the fainga’as are tongan/aboriginal..

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:29am
          Justin said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:29am | ! Report

          settle down champ, its a positive step and tournament and you are finding any which way to be negative.

          • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:52am
            mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:52am | ! Report

            yeah i agree. i get overly precious when a subset of people are being marginalised and neglected. i need to get over it. but my rants arent just about race its also about class. yes the tounament is positive, but why didnt it happen 50 years ago. can u imagine aus’ players depth if they had?

            • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:58am
              Justin said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:58am | ! Report

              Your passion is to be commended, just needs to be directed in the right way sometimes.

              And its hard to imagine what sort of legacy we would have if these things had been done long ago but it would be a darn sight better than where we are now for everyone.

              • March 2nd 2012 @ 10:17am
                mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 10:17am | ! Report

                like i said earlier in my reply to rickity knee’s “i know i’m not being constructive”. i’ll try to be in future
                i apologise

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:57pm
          p.Tah said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

          Fair bit of work to go Mania, but an interesting video from the IRB on the Australian Indigenous u16 team

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 11:04pm
          Jack Petro said | March 2nd 2012 @ 11:04pm | ! Report

          You forgot Matthew Hodgson from the Western Force (Avoca Beach Junior) – but I think Mr Evans was referring to the indigenous brothers (and sisters) that play rugby – not just the national ones. Yes, the majority on the eastern seaboard follow and participate in League, whilst those down south and over the west are AFL people.

          I don’t think you understand what RK is on about – engagement and building a culture from rugby that shows acceptance.

          The attitude of some here that rugby in Australia is just a “private” school culture is absurd – I played CHS and back then, in the 80s, it was all public school rugby thorughout Sydney. How do you think the Ella’s played – they went to Matraville High School – and they played along white fellas too – did that at Randwick as well!

      • Roar Guru

        March 2nd 2012 @ 8:53am
        Rickety Knees said | March 2nd 2012 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        Thanks p.Tah – great news! mania has a point though.

        My article is about Rugby community to Rugby community engagement. The ARU could announce a Rugby Community Development Initiative where it encourages NT juniors to tour the southern states and start to build “Rugby Brother Clubs”. The initial focus would be on connecting with NT teams – especially those that are recruiting and integrating indigenous players into their teams.

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 3:55pm
          p.Tah said | March 2nd 2012 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

          RK, yes I like your community engagement idea.

          • Roar Guru

            March 2nd 2012 @ 4:02pm
            Rickety Knees said | March 2nd 2012 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

            thanks p.Tah – if we create the avenue for this for the kids – it will get done – if we leave it up to the oldies to prevaricate it will never get done. As I said in the article “Thankfully kids make friends easily and rugby makes brothers” Community is on the wane – especially in this digital age where kids are losing their ability to interact with each …..

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:26am
      allblackfan said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      Mania, granted maori have had it a lot tougher for a lot longer but I suspect you may just a little harsh! (My opinion!). If you want to argue that the situation for maoris is better today than it was 50 years ago then I’d say rugby had a role in making that happen. Not the only reason but one reason.
      The haka is a case in point. Up until fairly recently, the haka was a fairly lame affair. Eventually, a maori consultant took the entire AB team one year (maori, samoans, tongans, fijians and pakehas) and showed them how to do it. It at least made the maori happier that at least they were doing a decent, if not good, job of it (I still refuse to watch that 1973 AB team perform it!).
      A lot of people may question the relevance of the haka or the intensity but it’s a symbol of unity that has a place. During RWC 2011, the ABs made a formal visit to the Maori King and performed the kamate haka which was VERY well received; to see the likes of Thorn, McCaw, Nonu, A and SBW Williams, Kaino, Kahui, Weepu, perform it on the marae delivered a very powerful message).
      In any case, a few years ago (when that damn Aussie haka was doing the rounds), I was chatting with a couple of indigenous Australians and they were baffled by why white Australia seemed to be so keen to embrace PIsland players (especially the maori) given the indigenous talent that they said was being ignored by the ARU. They had a good point

      • Roar Guru

        March 2nd 2012 @ 9:39am
        Rickety Knees said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        Good point ABF – it is a fact that white societies do not value the indigenous people that they believe that they have conquered. In NZ there is the Treaty of Waitangi which has given the Maori something to work with. Australia does not have an equivalent.

        Australians as a whole have a fascination for Native Americans and Americans have a fascination of Aborigines – both indigenous cultures have a similar history and a similar marginalised reality living on the periphery of white society.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:39am
        Justin said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        Does anyone know the population stats for PIs in major cities in AUS v Aboriginals? Clearly we have a stack of PIs playing rugby and its the capital cities IMO that most rugby is played and where most development work is done. Hence their much stronger presence in the game.

      • March 2nd 2012 @ 9:57am
        mania said | March 2nd 2012 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        ABF, yeah the patter cake haka done in the 50 – 80’s was a crack up. just an aside, best lead haka IMO was by buck and taineRandel, best haka was done by Va’aiga Tuigamala.
        buckShelford was instrumental in getting the haka done properly. it was when he was captain that the haka was taken seriously and the history and mana was explained to the AB’s.
        fully agree that Aussie embraces PIslanders more than their indigenous people. i found it bizarre when comments about them were made to my face yet i was a brownie. weird

        • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:49pm
          AussieKiwi said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          How about this one!!

        • March 3rd 2012 @ 3:32am
          allblackfan said | March 3rd 2012 @ 3:32am | ! Report

          that’s a sign of the progress that maori culture has made, mania.
          In Buck Shelford’s day, he made it the responsibility of the lead maori to perform the haka to an acdeptable standard (and correct if I’m wrong but was only the Ab captain or a maori member of the AB allowed to lad the haka?). These days, EVERYONE ( Maori, pakeka, samoan, tongan, fijian or whoever) must perform the haka to that extacting standard.
          And it works: in countries where you wouldn’t expect it (ie Spain, USA) the haka has become identified with NZ. In their eyess, to see the haka on a rugby ground is to see a NZ team perform it!
          What the ARU needs to do is adopt a similar thing (we saw it during the Aboriginal-Maori game during the RLWC).

    • March 2nd 2012 @ 1:35pm
      Brendon said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

      U guys need to play rugby outside of
      Sydney/Brisbane!!! No class differences or anything for me. I’ve played in western nsw, coffs harbour and still in Newcastle.. All are very glad to get any sort of players and we all love to get on the beers together as a club. I played for the Uni club and as
      A student, most players didn’t hav much money so we all went about things to cater for all.. U guys must have lived in the unfortunate areas that are subjected to these things.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download The Roar’s iPhone App in the App Store here.

      • Roar Guru

        March 2nd 2012 @ 1:47pm
        Rickety Knees said | March 2nd 2012 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

        Agree Brendan – here on the Central Coast NSW we have a similar environment where all are welcome. It is a different story when we go to the State Championship and play the Sydney teams ….. again my article is about developing community to community relationships that include our indigenous brothers up in the NT.

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