The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that Eastwood scored a cumulative 454-0 against Penrith in the Sydney club rugby union round on Saturday.
This included a score of 129-0 in the Shute Shield first-grade match at T G Millner Field.
The Tele gave the debacle a big splash. The Sydney Morning Herald gave the Emus a similar splash in May, breaking out their run of embarrassing results for the season.
This is what the Emus are now; a sad joke to be highlighted for public amusement.
NSW Rugby senior manager, Western Sydney rugby, Michael Doyle, said that a review of rugby in Western Sydney commenced in February when asked about Penrith’s plight recently. He added that the area provided Australian rugby with its greatest opportunity for growth.
This can be seen as a black joke, and that’s hardly Doyle’s fault.
Parramatta were on their knees five years ago and there was a push to get rid of the Two Blues. Yes, that Parramatta. The club more than a century old, the one whose players have included Eric Tweedale, Rod Phelps, Ray Price etc etc; the one with the huge junior area.
The club that elements of the heriarchy wanted to boot out, the one who through the vision of a new administration was back in the Shute Shield finals a couple of seasons later.
Meanwhile, Penrith won their first game in over a year last season. There’ll be no wins this season. The score reads 71-947 in the for-and-against column. Penrith’s problems – administrative, coaching, location, development – have been known for years.
It’s all a bit late, but begs the question: what is rugby officialdom’s philosophy for the game?
The time is long gone since the likes of Randwick v Sydney University were glamour games, when the media gave extensive coverage to Sydney club rugby, when the late Cyril Towers gave his Saturday-night report on the ABC news.
Club rugby only rates a mention when a club like Penrith becomes a joke. Not so long ago rugby union was second to rugby league among the football codes, in NSW and Queensland, at least. In the age of professionalism, it’s a long fourth behind league, football and AFL. That’s the age of Super Rugby, World Cups, Tests seemingly every five minutes and no more tours, of countries here or Wallabies overseas.
If that’s the game now, put Penrith out of their misery. There’s no point in humiliating hapless players; it’s cruel. Make Penrith’s matches a bye round, let the first-graders have practice matches against lower-grade teams until an investigation of the Emus is done and a decision made about the club’s future.
Taking a Kurtley Beale out of Mt Druitt and putting him in a private school doesn’t count as development. He’s one player, he’s not the game. His talent would have stood out in any environment. If there isn’t the structure to give a Beale the discipline to accompany his talent in the local environment, then there’s something wrong with the game.
The Parramatta experience gives no reassurance about the game’s grassroots future.
Is officialdom fair dinkum? Does it care?