ROAR EXCLUSIVE: John Eales explains his role in the rugby media

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    In this open letter, Wallaby legend John Eales AM responds to an article written on The Roar by resident rugby expert, Spiro Zavos.

    “Spiro, I was alerted to your article ‘Queensland Reds Fracturing over Personal Agendas‘ on The Roar, which in part makes reference to a column I wrote for the Australian Financial Review on April 23.

    I wanted to take the opportunity to comment on a few of your points.

    In the piece you mention that:

    I do not believe he should be writing about the [Richard] Graham switch, particularly with an ‘all’s well that ends well’ line.The reason for this is that he has shares in the business International Quarterback. This business employs [Chris] White, who manages Graham. This relationship needed to be revealed to readers of the article. Indeed, he should also reveal in his AFR columns that he is a member of the ARU’s board.”

    In reference to your comments, you are correct in saying that I am a shareholder of International Quarterback but the inference in your piece is that Graham is managed by International Quarterback.

    He is not.

    Chris White is a personal friend of Graham’s and has advised him from time to time on contractual issues, as he did in his move to the Reds, but Graham is not a client of IQ. Therefore, I did not stand to benefit, in any manner, from his dealings with Graham.

    It is also, I believe, important to note that Chris has never taken a cent from any coaching or playing contract in Graham’s career and indeed he has never taken a fee, either through IQ or personally, either directly or indirectly, for anything he has organised or advised on, on his behalf. Further, Graham has never been listed as a client on the IQ website or in any marketing collateral.

    It is true that Graham approached Chris for advice on his move to the Reds. Chris declared his interest immediately to all relevant parties, including the QRU board, and had no accountability in the Reds decision, he was advising a friend.

    Therefore, my inferred conflict as relating to my interest in IQ needs clarification on the website as I would take objection to someone believing that I used my article in the Australian Financial Review for my own personal, undeclared, gain.

    Also I don’t believe that it was necessary to mention my role as a director of Australian Rugby, but I appreciate that could be debated.

    From time to time I have declared an interest. Specifically I can remember declaring an interest in IQ in a piece about Michael Clarke some time ago. I have discussed my directorship previously with the AFR and it wasn’t deemed as necessary to declare for every article.

    I take your comments on board, however, as the last thing I want is to have people perceive that I am deceiving them and writing due to self-interest.

    This is what most concerns me about your article.

    I also hasten to add that I think my article was balanced and written from a ‘psychology of human behaviour’ perspective to try to explain why people behave as they do, rather than defending anyone’s specific choices.

    I felt I was not particularly easy on Graham and quite understanding, and supportive, of the Force’s predicament. I tried to look at it from many perspectives including McKenzie’s and the QRU’s, and also from the perspective of a fan.

    Accordingly, I don’t think it had the tone of an ‘all’s well that ends well’ article.

    As always Spiro, despite my comments above, I do appreciate your perspective and enjoy reading your writings on rugby.”

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    The Crowd Says (61)

    • Roar Guru

      May 3rd 2012 @ 1:50am
      all7days said | May 3rd 2012 @ 1:50am | ! Report

      Eales. You’re a true legend and I want to like you… But that kick. That @#$%in kick.

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 7:33am
        Riccardo said | May 3rd 2012 @ 7:33am | ! Report

        Man, that was a heart-breaker…

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 10:32am
        WQ said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        I was there and watched it live all7days and it was heartbreaking!!!
        From the moment he grabbed the ball and motioned that he was going to kick you just knew he would put it over. John Eales was not the devil on that day however it was Jonathon Kaplan and the number of penalties that he gave Australia at the death of the game, which at this stage was about 8 mins into supposed injury time to get them into a position for Eales to be able to do that.
        The real hero of the day was Norm Maxwell whom acted as a human shield to get Jonathon Kaplan off the field and through the tunnel as disgruntled AB fans tried to stone him to death with beer cans.

    • May 3rd 2012 @ 3:33am
      bluerose said | May 3rd 2012 @ 3:33am | ! Report

      good on you Mr Eales

    • May 3rd 2012 @ 3:42am
      King of the Gorgonites said | May 3rd 2012 @ 3:42am | ! Report

      It was widely reported that Chris white was Richard Graham’s manager. I never heard those two say otherwise. If it is as eales says, then why didn’t those gents say so?

      Remember eales was writing in the afr. That readership wants to hear that one should look at for themselves, put yourself ahead of the team, go against your word, and generally be a hypocrite. Basically every thing graham did.

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 5:26pm
        Armchair Sportsfan said | May 3rd 2012 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

        what a prejudiced view KoG… anyone that works in finance, or for that matter has an interest in reading the AFR is a self centered w@nker according to you?….pull your head in, and please refrain from making such broad judgements.

        There are dislikeable people and likeable people in every profession and pursuit.

    • Roar Guru

      May 3rd 2012 @ 3:44am
      Jiggles said | May 3rd 2012 @ 3:44am | ! Report

      NIce reply John.

      Rugby journalism in this country is in very dire straights. I believe the innuendo and rumours conjured by some members of the established press, including the intended recipient of this open letter, is a direct cause of low standard of rugby journalism we see today. It is full of hearsay and speculation which is reported as truth, when it is not. Spiro has been guilty of it many times, and so has Greg Growden. Such false accusations, which may tarnish a persons reputation, really show a level of unprofessionalism that begs the question, are these journalists really fit to report on rugby? More often than not I say no, which is a shame.

      Spiro – before you had implicated John Eales, in my opinons Australia’s greatest Wallaby Captain, in your half baked concocted conspiracy, would it have been hard to pick up the phone and ask John himself? If you “admiration for John Eales as a person is (as) strong” as you suggest, surely a phone call to John would’ve been warranted to clear any perceived conflicts of interest. It is hard to see any respect or admiration for the great man by you in your allegations towards him.

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 9:18am
        Sean Curran said | May 3rd 2012 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        I call typo (tongue in cheek of course)

        “Rugby journalism in this country is in very dire straights” did you mean “Rugby in this country is in very dire straights” ?


    • May 3rd 2012 @ 4:27am
      kingplaymaker said | May 3rd 2012 @ 4:27am | ! Report

      The details of this are somewhat beyond me, but without wishing to suggest Mr Eales’ integrity is in any way in doubt, it seems that in general rugby is run largely by insiders and ex-players, and old hangovers in their late 50s from the amateur era who are inevitably beset by conflicts of interests. Ex-players may very well bring a lot to running the game, but it is fundamentally a business in competition with other businesses in a brutal sporting market place. So I think many of those involved should not mainly not come from the world of rugby at all but should be hired simply on their abilties to run a business.

      Interesting to see how many invisible forces read the Roar: still hoping for an article on here from Wayne Smith if he’s watching somewhere…

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 5:03am
        Ben S said | May 3rd 2012 @ 5:03am | ! Report

        You keep repeating this, but a lot of top figures in rugby have been heavily involved at the top end of the business world.

        • Roar Guru

          May 3rd 2012 @ 5:33am
          Hoy said | May 3rd 2012 @ 5:33am | ! Report

          Maybe KPM forgets that the amateur rugby player had to work outside the game, and a lot were professionals in the business world.

          • May 3rd 2012 @ 5:53am
            The Other White Wendell said | May 3rd 2012 @ 5:53am | ! Report

            you’re putting facts in the story!

          • May 3rd 2012 @ 6:42am
            kingplaymaker said | May 3rd 2012 @ 6:42am | ! Report

            Hoy of course that’s true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are better at the particular business job they have to perform in running the game. It doesn’t mean they’re worse of course, but would they necessarily be selected for the positions against other businessmen in an even competition? Doubtless some of them but probably many would not too.

            • May 3rd 2012 @ 6:57am
              Ben S said | May 3rd 2012 @ 6:57am | ! Report

              ‘I think many of those involved should not mainly not come from the world of rugby at all but should be hired simply on their abilties to run a business.’

              You’re changing tangent now.

            • May 3rd 2012 @ 5:42pm
              nomis said | May 3rd 2012 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

              The radical expansion in the number of SR teams per country is not due to lack of business sense.

      • Columnist

        May 3rd 2012 @ 8:34am
        Brett McKay said | May 3rd 2012 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        KPM, given that Wayne Smith is employed by another media organisation, I’d suggest the chances of him writing to The Roar are similar to those of the Blues or Rebels scoring a home final this season.

        But you can be assured they all know about and from time to time read The Roar. I got the shock of my life earlier this year when one of Wayne Smith’s News Ltd colleagues introduced me to him, and before it could be said where I fitted into the landscape, Wayne came straight out with “yeah, from The Roar..”

        • May 3rd 2012 @ 9:15am
          David of Canberra said | May 3rd 2012 @ 9:15am | ! Report

          so that begs the question, Brett, which of our faithful Roarers are pseudonyms for well known rugby identities. Who really is John O’Neill, is Robbie Deans lurking behind a clever moniker, is Tim Horan cleverly disguised, perhaps even Ewen McKenzie is quietly slipping in the odd comment and why wouldn’t Danny Weidler be inside the Roar doing what he does best?

          I know that you’re real but how do we know that any one of our Kiwi Roarers isn’t actually Alan Jones!

          I’m sure that there are a few ex-Wallabies reading David Campese and Clyde Rathbone – but who are they?

          • Columnist

            May 3rd 2012 @ 9:40am
            Brett McKay said | May 3rd 2012 @ 9:40am | ! Report

            David, I’d love for one of the anti-Deans set to be Robbie Deans. Some heads would truly explode…

            • May 3rd 2012 @ 9:52am
              kingplaymaker said | May 3rd 2012 @ 9:52am | ! Report

              Brett I thought the Roar’s columnists were drawn from all organisations or those outside any organisation, a shame if it has to limit them because of this. Is that really so?

              • Columnist

                May 3rd 2012 @ 10:03am
                Brett McKay said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:03am | ! Report

                there is a good mix KPM, you’re quite right, but aside from Spiro and Paul, who write for Fairfax as columnists, none of ‘us’ are regular journos for any other print media outlets..

              • May 3rd 2012 @ 10:22am
                kingplaymaker said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:22am | ! Report

                I see Brett, that’s good to hear-who knows Wayne Smith may even be watching at this very moment, planning an article…

              • Columnist

                May 3rd 2012 @ 5:29pm
                Geoff Lemon said | May 3rd 2012 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

                Ahem. Speak for yourself, B-Mac.

              • Columnist

                May 3rd 2012 @ 8:14pm
                Brett McKay said | May 3rd 2012 @ 8:14pm | ! Report

                You know what I mean GL!!

            • May 3rd 2012 @ 11:16am
              sheek said | May 3rd 2012 @ 11:16am | ! Report


              That’s hilarious – the thought of Dingo Bob bagging himself, & telling everyone he must go.

              Could be Johnny-Boy……….

              • May 3rd 2012 @ 11:43am
                kingplaymaker said | May 3rd 2012 @ 11:43am | ! Report

                sheek it makes sense that it would be him rather than a pseudonym supporting what he does because an anti-Deans poster would prompt all sorts of interesting criticisms which he could think about. Having said that there are so many anti-Deans posters that he would hardly need to bother, although few of them come up with any arguments and so don’t prompt many counter-arguments.

                I don’t think there are any coaches/players who post under pseudonyms actually because they would give themselves away through expert knowledge or knowing too much.

              • May 3rd 2012 @ 7:04pm
                AndyS said | May 3rd 2012 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

                Not according to most here. I’m imagining Bray and O’Brien bagging all the referees from every match too, and JO’N being rabidly anti-expansion/ pro-ARC…

          • Roar Pro

            May 3rd 2012 @ 10:06am
            sittingbison said | May 3rd 2012 @ 10:06am | ! Report

            not sure Tim Horans would be a “clever” disguise after his efforts in GeniaGate %)

    • May 3rd 2012 @ 7:07am
      sheek said | May 3rd 2012 @ 7:07am | ! Report


      Thankyou for clarifying your article as related by Spiro. It’s a good thing I held of writing an article on this because based on Spiro’s post, it suggested a lack of perspective on your part.

      Defenders of Richard Graham argue he broke no contract in exercising his option, by signing with the Reds. Nevertheless, his departure from the Force displays an appalling self-interested lack of understanding of the big picture of Australian rugby.

      As a head coach, there is more responsibility to ‘stay the course’ than be might entrusted upon a player.

      This, combined with the mid-season “will-he, won’t-he, he-has, he-hasn’t” decision by Will Genia to remain with the Reds, reflects poorly on the overall integrity & awareness of coaches & players (& their managers & officials) in their commitment to the future well-being of Australian rugby.

      But you’re still the greatest forward to pull on the Wallaby jersey.

      • May 3rd 2012 @ 7:43am
        Justin said | May 3rd 2012 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        Sheek I agree and disagree!

        Graham has exercised his right as you point out. He wont be the first or last coach in any code to do this. I think you are placing too much value and responsibility on Graham on the bigger picture. He is a small pawn in the whole business of rugby in AUS.

        What I think would have been more acceptable is that Graham never accepted the job as head coach if he was not willing to put in a longer term stint as coach. He may well have changed his mind but the “reasons” for his move back to QLD tell me that he probably wasnt ever thinking of being a long term Force coach and that is the disappointing part of all this. His statements in saying he wanted to return home after a long time away and moving back to a “rugby” state indicate his vision.

        He should have flagged he was to stay assistant and let the Force get a long term coach to take the club forward.

        • May 3rd 2012 @ 11:09am
          sheek said | May 3rd 2012 @ 11:09am | ! Report


          Fair enough, however the first sentence of your second para is equally pertinent. Make that the whole second para, in which case, Graham’s decision is even more reprehensible.

          Head coaches aren’t that small a pawn in the scheme of things. The head coaches of the Wallabies & super rugby provinces totals 6.

          They are directly involved in the recruitment of the playing roster, & they also direct the players how to play the game. They have a huge role in the business of Australian rugby.

          Right now, the best & most cost-effective way to improve the whole bottom line of Australian rugby is play a style that will attract new players, fans, sponsors & media interest. Not to mention increased revenue streams.

          Get people talking about rugby union instead of AFL or NRL. Bring back the “wow” factor. Make people care again.

          How many of these 6 head coaches, their support coaches & the 150 odd leading players they oversee, actually understand this (ALL or MOST of them)…..???

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