Bill Pulver must take control of rugby’s fractured state

Phil Bird Roar Guru

By Phil Bird, Phil Bird is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    New ARU chief Bill Pulver needs to take the reins of rugby union in Australia, in the process disbanding state governance that has proven about as useful as a spoonful of sugar in a fuel tank.

    The state system’s very existence is an evolutionary appendage from colonial times, devised when a man couldn’t travel on horseback more than 2000 miles.

    The advent of planes and telephones has made state governance redundant, yet the nation’s passion with state identity seemingly prevents many from accepting the notion of nationally centralised governance.

    Rugby is no different.

    And each state, which manages rugby within its own borders, has displayed zero ability to integrate resources, grass roots competition and intellectual property.

    There’s dozens of local school competitions and none of them are playing against each other in a unified national comp.

    The member unions can’t even agree to a unified website structure, with some as sophisticated as you might expect from your local bakery.

    Contract negotiation requiring separate Wallaby and Super Rugby contracts got so bad in 2012 you’d think the ARU couldn’t organise a game of touch on a Sunday. Yet in fairness it’s an awkward scenario at best.

    Last year’s farce was underscored by Genia moving from the Reds to the Force and back again like a bovine escaping the prod.

    Quade Cooper, probably the best talent in the country and the most likely to bring back the Bledisloe Cup in 2013, was contractually manhandled, and it’s a surprise and a blessing to see him in the code next year after he finally managed to limp over the line and sign the ARU contract for 2013.

    We almost lost him to the game, and possibly forever.

    The great irony to all this is that in its current format the states already have no meaningful control at the elite level, a fact proven in 2011 by the Western Force being left at the altar by the ARU, swaying in the wind.

    All the while their former partner piled its energies into their new muse at the Melbourne Rebels.

    The Force was left without a coach and a talent base; they may as well have left them without power or water.

    This is a real shame for a bunch of genuinely passionate local fans who want nothing more than rugby to have a mainstream home in Western Australia.

    It remains to be seen what will happen following the ARU’s curious decision to appoint Bill Pulver as CEO.

    If he’s willing to make the bold calls, he may well push to centralise all levels of governance, cherry-pick the talent from state administrations, and get busy replicating his corporate success in this new venture of his.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • February 4th 2013 @ 8:32am
      tc said | February 4th 2013 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      PB this is a well thought out article an,and I hope for rugbys sake the change in governance at the end of last year brings good things for Australia . As for the Force they’ve been treated like a prostitute ,but here’s hoping the turn around has begun.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 8:56am
      formeropenside said | February 4th 2013 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Well, I can tell you those problems have very lttle to do with the States – well, at least with Queensland – and a lot to do with the ARU. If anything needs cleaning out, its the ARU.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 9:17am
      Happy Hooker said | February 4th 2013 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      Why was the decision to appoint Pulver “curious”? Seems an eminently good decision to me.

      • Roar Guru

        February 4th 2013 @ 1:21pm
        Phil Bird said | February 4th 2013 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

        Curious given his recent troubles. Nothing to do with his credibility, he seems like a good option on the surface of it.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 9:49am
      blind freddie said | February 4th 2013 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      Phil – perhaps you would like to tell us more about how this centralisation would work. Surely we need resources on the ground in local areas to actually do things like promote and develop junior rugby, organise and run competitions, raise revenue etc.

      • Roar Guru

        February 4th 2013 @ 1:24pm
        Phil Bird said | February 4th 2013 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

        Hi Blind Freddie,

        Absolutely you need men on the ground – that would be part of the plan, and you’d use the same people that are already there doing it.

        It’s just the ARU needs to ensure it’s a unified and complimentary plan. The system should be coming from the top, rather than 8 difficerent jurisdictions deciding what is best for their state. The national game is dependent on the states doing the right thing by the code, therefore the ARU has not only a vested interest but a duty to control it.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 9:55am
      Johnno said | February 4th 2013 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      Bill Pulver’s jobs:

      -Handling Super rugby expansion in 2016, and what to do with aussy super rugby expansion

      -Creating a competant 3rd-Tier comp

      -Junior rugby

      -Women’s rugby

      -Setting up a 7evens rugby strategic plan

      -How to get rugby to appeal to a broader and wider Audience in the 22 million OZ population

      -Scrapping the image that rugby is an elitist sport in OZ.

      -The wallabies are fine they are the end product. Well resourced, it’s the Top-down model level’s below the Wallabies that are a worry in Australian rugby.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 8:35pm
      Billy Bob said | February 4th 2013 @ 8:35pm | ! Report

      Johnno, OZ rugby is invisible. And being beaten to both fan and player markets by other codes.
      I suspect Pulver was appointed to fill rugby’s major vacuum – marketing.

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