Brumbies’ record can’t mask Aussie strife


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73 Have your say

    Already in a state of turmoil, Australian rugby faces a credibility test when dominant conference leaders the Brumbies host Super Rugby heavyweights the Highlanders on Saturday.

    The Brumbies’ 28-12 dispatch of the woeful Waratahs on Saturday night earned the ACT outfit a record ninth consecutive derby win and back-to-back triumphs on NSW territory for the first time in the competition’s 21-year history.

    But the Brumbies’ typically stoic start to 2017, in the face of speculation the two-time champions and six-time finalists could be cut as part of a SANZAAR shake-up, can’t mask Australia’s otherwise diabolical opening to the season.

    Australia’s five franchises are now one from 10 against overseas opposition following round-four defeats for the Melbourne Rebels and Queensland Reds.

    Hammered by the Blues and Hurricanes, the Rebels delivered a vastly improved showing but nevertheless remain winless after falling 27-14 to the table-topping Chiefs at AAMI Park.

    The Reds had five-eighth Quade Cooper sent off, winger Eto Nabuli yellow-carded, and skipper James Slipper and centre Samu Keveri injured in a disastrous 44-14 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg.

    Cooper faces a possible suspension for his high tackle on Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Slipper feared he either tore a calf muscle or Achilles tendon while Samu hurt his knee, leaving the Reds down on troops ahead of a gruelling trip from Africa to Argentina to tackle the Jaguares next Sunday.

    The Reds are languishing in 11th spot on the ladder, one point ahead of the 13th-placed Western Force, with NSW 16th and the Rebels last entering the Waratahs’ desperate derby in Melbourne on Saturday night.

    The Brumbies are fourth, but a home loss to the Highlanders would do little to ease the pressure or convince the competition’s rulers that Australia can sustain five franchises in a remodelled tournament format.

    Offended that the Brumbies are even being mentioned as endangered, coach Stephen Larkham refused to discuss his side’s fight for survival when asked if the rout of the Waratahs had sent a message to SANZAAR.

    Believing a decision on the Brumbies’ future had already been made – one way or another – Larkham said his opinion on the state of flux was irrelevant.

    “We’re celebrating a great victory in Sydney against the Waratahs. All those decisions are not ours to make so we’ll focus on our win here,” he said.

    Larkham’s focus was very much on trying to plot a rare win over New Zealand opposition.

    “We’ve got the Highlanders next week and they’re a very classy team. Coached by Tony Brown, they’ve got some very good players,” he said.

    “So that will be a test for us. Much like all New Zealand sides, they’ve got very good counter attack and turnover attack.

    “But they’re probably a little bit more set-piece oriented with a good kicking game.

    “It’s a week-by-week proposition when you come up against New Zealand sides.”

    The Force also face a tough trans-Tasman challenge, up against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday night.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (73)

    • Roar Guru

      March 19th 2017 @ 1:47pm
      sheek said | March 19th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

      If the ARU continue their well-known pursuit of economic rationalism, then the Brumbies, based in the smallest population & sports market of the five provinces in Australia, will be culled.

      Irrespective of this, whichever province is culled will be a disgrace & betrayal of everything Australian rugby has been striving for this past decade.

      That is, to primarily nationalise the footprint of rugby union in this country & build depth of exposure, players & teams outside of NSW & Queensland.

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 2:08pm
        Rob na Champassak said | March 19th 2017 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

        Well said, sheek.

        The irony is that their pursuit of the new markets has led to the dilution of Super Rugby and a subsequent loss of prestige which is turning people off (thus less revenue and higher costs). That they might even consider culling the Brumbies shows that they still don’t get it.

      • March 19th 2017 @ 3:21pm
        Darwin Stubbie said | March 19th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

        But as it has been said countless times – it’s not SR job to provide a fake national competition for Aust – that’s where it all started to go wrong … the culling of the ARC

        • March 19th 2017 @ 5:05pm
          Republican said | March 19th 2017 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

          ……true, however the code here struggles to capture the imagination our national sporting culture, so any NRC is unlikely to compete with the remaining footy codes for status and profile but would potentially grow grass roots Rugby.
          This is why Super Rugby is a double edged sword in respect of the game here.

      • March 19th 2017 @ 3:52pm
        Lostintokyo said | March 19th 2017 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

        I agree sheek, cutting a side will be greatly regretted in the near future. It will lead to the possible extinction of professional rugby in Australia with only the Wallabies justifying a gate. The answer lies elsewhere. Heavens only knows where?

      • March 19th 2017 @ 5:39pm
        Hello Everybody. said | March 19th 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report


        The goal of the ARU is to improve the state of the game in Aus.

        Decisions and sacrifices may have to be made to get this.

        They also have an obligation to provide a quality product to NZ, Arg, SA and Jap.

        There are a lot of factors here.

        Dropping a team could/should lead to stronger fan and sponsor support for the remaining teams.
        Stronger quality product for TV deals.
        Greater chance of title success.
        Ultimately a greater chance of growth.

        You are all claiming its all going to go south. As if the ARU and its partners have no interest in growing the game in Aus.

        The decision is made for the benifit of Aus and Super Rugby.

        Lostintokyo, what on earth makes you make such a huge jump in logic?

        Many top rugby brains have stated that Aus needs to drop a team to benifit Aus rugby at all levels.

        Aus expanded too quick and it backfired.
        Now they are taking the logical steps to consolidate before moving forward.

        The goal of the ARU is to grow the game in Aus. You cant just start a whole bunch of teams to do that. You must take steps at the right time.

        • March 19th 2017 @ 7:35pm
          Rugger said | March 19th 2017 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

          Need to look at long term and not short term to meet strategic imperative – national footprint.

          ARU is averse to risk taking hence relying on Super Rugby to provide “national comp” and footprint.

          What ARU is lacking is not strategic intent but delivery.

          Force were never supported via foreign player signing until very late.

          Look to AFL on how to go national.

          If VFL remained aerial ping pong would remain just that but now its rated 2nd behind NRL in rugby’s heartland of NSW and QLD.

          Irony is we are measuing to best in NZ both at provisional level and national level and NZR have been benchnmark for as long as one can remember.

          For rugby to all of a sudden become on par with NZ is not understanding what drives success – grassroots – and by this I do not mean Papperworth precious Shute Shield, is wrong given we have pressures from other codes.

          Worst ARU can do is back in corner and continue with Wallaby-centric goal and success of Wallabies as be-all-and-end all.

          Sports has cycles and just as Highlander from NZ have turned corner from being average to Super Champions so too can others if we can structure and give time.

          Whatever they do they better do it quick rather than trashing the brand.

          • March 19th 2017 @ 7:54pm
            Hello Everybody. said | March 19th 2017 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

            I have no idea but you do?


            I am looking at it long term, thats the whole gist of my post.

            The ARU tried your model and it didnt work. They didnt think long term and rushed into something that wadnt sustainable.

            I guess thats why they are having to change it.

            You cant just start a whole bunch of teams without the ability to support them in the hope that one day you can.

            As I said, you take the right steps at the right time.

            Or should Arg include 6 teams because theyre thinking “long term” like you?

            I think they should think.

      • March 19th 2017 @ 5:52pm
        Hello Everybody. said | March 19th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

        Clearly Aus doesnt have the players money or interest to have 5 teams.

        Theyre struggling financially and with quality of product.
        They need to consolidate and solidify before expanding and spreading too thin and collapsing.

        Sponsors, fans and players will leave like rats on a sinking ship if the Aus rugby franchises remain the way they are.
        Look at the results.
        What fans, players, coaches or sponsors will be attracted to the mess theyre in?

        Drop a team, play better, move forward with purpose.
        Not keep 5, lose fans, lose sponsors, collapse and crumble.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 20th 2017 @ 1:49pm
          piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          We don’t have the players to field 5 teams?

          I disagree, but say you’re right, how do we grow that player base?

          Less players playing at the top level, less opportunities for up and coming players to compete?


          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 2:43pm
            Rob na Champassak said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

            The NRC. The people calling for an Australian team to get the axe argue (quite correctly, IMO) that Super Rugby should not be used in place of a domestic comp for developing players.

            Where they’re wrong is in assuming that cutting a team will inevitably lead to a significant strengthening of the other Australian teams. More than likely what will happen is a third of the players (and many of the most talented ones) will head overseas, a third will be absorbed into the remaining franchises and their development structures (which are not going to magically become better), and a third will be lost to professional rugby – even good players whose potential has not been recognised by Australian talent scouts who in the past have let talents like Nemani Nadolo and Scott Fardy leave Australian shores through lack of opportunities.

          • March 20th 2017 @ 3:09pm
            Hello Everybody. said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report


            You consolidate and then move on.

            Honestly, does it seriously make sense to just create more teams to you?

            If it was everyone would do it.

            But you cant improve by just creating more and more teams and acting as if thats the solution. That somehow improving your rugby is as simple as speading too thin and hoping the whole thing doesnt collapse before eventually the poor performing financially unstable teams you have will one day be OK.
            Thats not the solution. The solution is expanding when you can, not before you can.

            You strengthen, then expand when you can.

            You dont expand when you cant and expect everything else to catch up….eventually….you hope….one day.

            With all due respect, I shouldnt have to explain this, its pretty basic stuff.

      • March 19th 2017 @ 10:32pm
        kunming tiger said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:32pm | ! Report

        On this occassion I need to agree with you.

        The talent pathways in Victoria and WA will eventually produce enough quality players to sustain those franchises. The Rebels have blooded four local products in the past year. Coaching is another matter , they need to move towards a system adopted by the NZRU , central contracting, draft etc .It is not the players who are broken it is the system.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 20th 2017 @ 1:50pm
          piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

          Force had 1 local player their first year

          We currently have 10 in our starting lineup

          These things take time

        • March 20th 2017 @ 3:55pm
          Hello Everybody. said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

          Yes the system is broken.

          They need to adapt, consolidate and when the time is right, expand.

          Central contracting and the distribution of talent is not the issue in Aus this year. Imo the talent is quite evenly spread. Perhaps QLD and NSW are still ahead but all the teams are pretty even in comparrison to previous years.

          Get 4 teams up and strong, winning and playing exciting rugby. Bring in new fans, new sponsors. Then expand and repeat.
          To expand from a fairly weak position in hope that it will solve your problems…well it didnt work.

    • March 19th 2017 @ 4:50pm
      terry said | March 19th 2017 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

      the rebels and the force should recruit from the pacific islands..lots of talented players there..small investment big return..there’s not enough rugby talent in Melbourne and perth yet..

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 10:11pm
        sheek said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:11pm | ! Report


        I’m going to bite here, even though everything in my mind tells me not to.

        It’s great for Islanders & second-rate Kiwis to get professional contracts with Aussie provincial teams.

        Good for them. But it’s not good for Australian rugby.

        It’s not our job to be benevolent to players from other countries. But that’s what’s happening.

        And yes, I know it’s become incredibly difficult to separate the Aussie-born & raised Islander from the opportunistic Islander.

        In any case, I don’t know where the Aussie rugby player has gone. Maybe they’re going to Subbies in droves?

        Not only are we losing viewers, but we seem to be also losing players.

        But filling our provinces with opportunistic Islanders & Kiwis is not a satisfactory long-term solution either.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 2:42am
          terry said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:42am | ! Report

          opportunistic?’re looking at it all wrong mate..better to have a winning team of largely foreigners than a losing team of local boys..that’s why an aussie team/s is getting culled..Toulon was never a rugby town..until they hired from overseas and created a winning rugby culture..

      • March 20th 2017 @ 2:53pm
        Jock Cornet said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

        The rebels are basically Sydney uni. Without that nursery no rebels

    • March 19th 2017 @ 8:10pm
      Snake said | March 19th 2017 @ 8:10pm | ! Report

      I’ve been reading The Roar for some time now and have finally felt the desire to put forward my thoughts. Frankly, Aussie Rugby is in deep trouble and we are at a cross-roads to either a brighter future or more of the same stumbling, disappointing results. Several other contributors have pointed to the fact that we will continue to struggle financially (both ARU and SR franchises), and produce the same sub-standard product, if we don’t cull 1 team.

      What else can we do to turn around the fortunes of Aust rugby? I certainly don’t know of any other solution.

      And which team should be culled is anyone’s guess. I do not envy the people who have to make this decision.

      One positive I see and actually look forward to with the reduction in teams is the increased competition for positions in the remaining squads, and hopefully, the improvement in standard of player skills across the board. Lets me use Nick Phipps as an example. For a player allegedly of international standard his consistency of service to his outside runners is frequently very poor. Against the Brumbies on Saturday I lost count how many times Phipp’s passes were slightly high and behind his target receiver. In the majority of situations the receiver actually caught the pass but their momentum had been slowed and their posture become unbalanced. The result, repeatedly, was an easy tackle for the Brumbies, the Tahs unable to get over the advantage line and continually struggling to get ascendency. In my view, this is a consistent problem (and I say this as a Tah fan) but perhaps he may improve if there was stronger competition for his position.

      I think the positives will outweigh the negatives for Aust Rugby if we reduce the number of SR teams to 4., But as I said earlier – which team? Also, a message to the anti-Waratah readers – don’t bother suggesting the Tahs should be the team culled as I have no comeback considering the underwhelming performances they have put up lately.

      • March 19th 2017 @ 10:41pm
        In Brief said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:41pm | ! Report

        Sounds like you’ve been reading the Roar too much -reducing to four teams won’t lead to improved performance, guaranteed.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 1:21pm
          Hello Everybody. said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report


          Pffft. The whole idea of Super Rugby is to condense players in to ‘Super’ teams. But Super teams are no better than NPC teams? I think you will find THEY ARE.

          Reducing teams increases the talent available for each franchise and talent increases team performance.

          To say it doesnt is absurd. Its like saying turning the lights off at night wont make it darker.

          • Roar Rookie

            March 20th 2017 @ 2:17pm
            piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

            You can only put 15 players on a field at a time.

            Given that you don’t believe player development to be important, please name the players from the Brumbies (or Rebels, or Force) you would transplant and the players from the remaining sides you’d remove from Australian professional rugby.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 3:21pm
              Hello Everybody. said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

              I dont what?

              Please dont blatently put absurd words in my mouth.

              I understand people are angry but blatently making up things and saying they are my opinion is outrageous.

              Heres the facts. Stronger squads and player talent matters.
              To say that adding player depth and talent to the teams that remain wont make a positive difference is absurd.
              It does, thats a massive factor in what makes a team better.

              Are we seriously going to argue that condensing teams down so the quality is higher doesnt make any difference?

              Talk about clutching at straws.

              Whats next, saying the world is flat.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 3:35pm
              Hello Everybody. said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

              You know what the Wallabies are?

              Super Rugbys 5 teams condensed down to 1.

              But according to the logic that condensing talent down doesnt make a team better, the Wallabies are not any better than the Force.

              Its an absolutely absurd suggestion.

              • March 20th 2017 @ 5:09pm
                AndyS said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

                No, they are not. The Wallabies are one team selected from five, with those five still existing. If you selected the Wallabies and then eliminated the other four teams, then yes the Wallabies would very quickly be no better than a SR team (if that).

                Eliminating a team may result in a brief improvement as four teams are selected from five, but they will very rapidly go back to what they are now. It isn’t a sustainable improvement, unless the same process is continually applied. SR players are made, and the strength of the teams reflects their systems. Culling a team won’t change those systems.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 20th 2017 @ 5:40pm
                piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

                You seem to have this bad habit of assuming whatever your opinion is, that it’s common sense and anyone who hasn’t come to the same conclusion must be stupid.

                The Wallabies are not a super team – Andy has already explained it better than I can.

              • March 20th 2017 @ 7:35pm
                Hello Everybody. said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

                Yes its the talent from 5 condesed to 1.
                It will be the talent from 5 condensed to 4.

                But you say that the talent has increased in Aus since Australias golden era?
                So with 5 teams the Wallabies have improved?
                Why do you think that?

                The truth is, which you dance around, is that the amount of talent has NOT GROWN with more teams in Aus. Some would argue its dropped.

                I guess thats the point isnt it Andy, they DONT have enough talent for 5 teams. They have enough for 3 or 4. This talk of the Wallabies not having as much talent to pick is not backed up in reality.

                Maybe some talent will fall through the gaps. Maybe.

                But dont forget, the Wallabies were the best in the world with 3 teams, never with 4 and never with 5.

                So wheres the evidence for your theory?

              • March 21st 2017 @ 2:05am
                AndyS said | March 21st 2017 @ 2:05am | ! Report

                And we won the World Cup beating New Zealand and England back to back when we were amateur. Does that mean we should revert to that?

                The world moves on. Everyone is improving and growing, we are going backward. Maybe it is because we seem to spend all our time looking backward, instead of planning forward. Because that is the problem for mine – there has simply not been the planning and investment in systems to support the talent they have. And even now, rather than correct that the silver bullet is to reduce teams and that will somehow make everything good again and put us on the path to growth. It won’t…it is getting rid of the spare tire on your mis-firing car. It certainly won’t fix the problem, it just increases the risk you’ll end up with two problems instead of one and doubly stuffed.

                And I would have thought the truth of that was rather self-evident, but as a mental experiment try this. Take the Wallabies and All Blacks teams and mix them together to make two equal teams. Now, with the Australian half supported by any four of the Australian SR teams operating as they do now, how long do you think they will maintain that improvement?

                The flip side is that if they actually address the real issues at the root of the problem, the number of teams is irrelevant. But if we go down the path of cutting teams, you can bet the earth will be pretty much barren next time around. There was an article on Australian growth projections over the next 40 years just recently, with some interesting points on where and how that growth will occur ( It was looking 40 years ahead, which sounds like a long time. But the NRL had a crack at expansion into WA and then pulled out, and 20 years later and counting they still haven’t been able to return. So I would really hope that the ARU has some kind of actual concrete planning rather than wishy-washy visions, because the decisions made now will determine what sports all those people will be watching in years to come.

                Oh, and yes, the talent available has increased. But if it hasn’t, it must be because the amount coming out of the “heartlands” must be declining quicker than the new areas have added to it. So that would equally beg the question why you would be putting all eggs into the shrinking heartland basket for the future…?

      • March 19th 2017 @ 11:15pm
        kunming tiger said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

        The reason Phillips plays for the Wallabies is not necessarily because he is the best avaliable it is because being a Waratah he has first call on the position. Playing for the Waratahs enhances your chances of playing for the national team in a position where there is a lack of a stand out or at least that is the argument they use to entice players back. Unless there is an improvement in coaching I can’t see where the significant improvement will come from.

    • Roar Guru

      March 19th 2017 @ 8:35pm
      biltongbek said | March 19th 2017 @ 8:35pm | ! Report

      The ARU is at fault not for having 5 Franchises but for not developing the feeder system to those 5 franchises

      • March 19th 2017 @ 9:02pm
        terry said | March 19th 2017 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

        nz has a long rugby culture that is deeply embedded in all aspects of community and perth don’t..the force and rebels should’ve recruited more sensibly and extensively from outside as they build a winning rugby culture in their respective cities..

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2017 @ 9:12pm
          biltongbek said | March 19th 2017 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

          The ARU is accountable for not developing Australian rugby at grassroots over the same period

          • March 19th 2017 @ 10:38pm
            Hello Everybody. said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:38pm | ! Report

            No its not.

            You all act as if its simple, you just flick a switch do you?

            Aus rugby has a responsibility to look to grow the game long term in Aus.
            That is not simple.
            SA does not have 2 bigger full contact football codes that are culturally and financially far more established than union.
            So to preach from afar about what must be done is a bit rich for my tastes.

            The ARU are in a tough spot. They need money to grow the game but that does not come from grassroots. It comes from the Wallabies and to a lessor extent Super Rugby.
            Now you can bang on about funding the grassroots at the expense of looking after its money flow as a solution if you like but the truth is that that would not work.
            They must look after money flow whilst trying to fund grassroots and other levels of the game in Aus. Thats proving very difficult.

            So all you guys who think you have simple solutions to a very difficult situation need to stop, think and understand instead of acting as if these guys that are trying very hard to grow the game are clowns that cant run things like you could.

            I do understand this is the internet but seriously…can we please start reasoning instead of this constent bitterness about things we have little understanding of.

            Its not easy, its clearly extremely difficult.
            You dont just click your fingers.

            Imo Pulver is doing very well so far.
            You guys expect miracles.

            • Roar Guru

              March 20th 2017 @ 3:01pm
              biltongbek said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

              I am not blaming Pulver, I am talking of a long history and rugby culture being built over time. If the AFL en RL grew from 0, and we can safely say someone in each of these codes had a vision for the sport to grow, then why did the ARU not do the same thing?

              It is irrelevant what the situation is in SA. We are not talking about SARU and their problems.

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 10:04pm
        sheek said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:04pm | ! Report


        This is correct. A lot of people think culling one team is the silver bullet. but the problem is a systemic failure to support those five teams.

        Without correcting that systemic failure, guess what? ARU won’t be able to sustain four teams either, then people will be saying we need to cull another team.

        The problem is not the five teams, but the process.

        • Roar Guru

          March 19th 2017 @ 10:20pm
          biltongbek said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:20pm | ! Report

          Totally agree Sheek

          • March 19th 2017 @ 11:30pm
            riddler said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

            yep.. agreed with both bb and sheek.. needs to be an overhaul from ground up..

            but it won’t happen.. too much like hard work and too many self interest groups will get in the way..

            just like trying to making big changes in government, it is near impossible..

            • Roar Guru

              March 19th 2017 @ 11:47pm
              biltongbek said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:47pm | ! Report

              SARU is pretty much guilty of the same issues. Self interest and nepotism

        • March 20th 2017 @ 3:24am
          AndyS said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:24am | ! Report

          Absolutely agree. They don’t even have the cart in front of the horse, the horse is still eating oats in the stable.

          If form is anything at all to go by they will cull one team, tell themselves they’ve fixed the problem and do nothing else for another five years.

    • March 19th 2017 @ 9:02pm
      Jock Cornet said | March 19th 2017 @ 9:02pm | ! Report

      Exactly Billtongbek. The ARU and expert ROARERS always neglect the most obvious point. It is up to us not Sanzar to improve the quality of our players and develop them. The second tier are the existing clubs ie the Shute shield and Brissy equivalent. Why do so called experts ignore the obvious. Because they are ARU stooges that think to be a good journalist you push the wallaby centric propaganda

      • Roar Guru

        March 19th 2017 @ 9:15pm
        biltongbek said | March 19th 2017 @ 9:15pm | ! Report

        Agreed Jock, becoming world champions in 1991 should have been the wake up call for the ARU if there ever was one.

        Where would Australian domestic rugby have been by now if they heeded that call?

        • March 19th 2017 @ 10:10pm
          Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

          Biltong, OZ rugby has always been on shaky ground.
          Even when we had every cup in the cupboard in 99/01, we were on shaky ground.even in those years NRL dominated the Sydney and Brisbane press, and AFL dominated the rest of the country.

          We have been spread too thin for a hundred years. Strapped for cash for the same time. ‘Neglectful’ of the grassroots for the same period.
          Occasionally when we have enjoyed a spike in talent we have had our brief moments in the sun but overall we have done quite a lot with very little. Eighteen months ago we were rated number two in the world! Again that year we did a lot with very little.
          These days we also have the rise and rise of soccer to contend with.
          There is simply very little social traction for rugby in our popular culture. Think culture doesn’t matter? Try getting a sponsor when the people don’t have knowledge of what the code is, let alone an attraction for it.
          Whole swathes of Victorians and Western Australians don’t know that rugby and NRL are different sports.
          The NRL mouthpiece in Sydney aka Daily Telegraph actively buries rugby news under riveting tales of NRL DUI convictions, contract negotiations and WAG’s fashion preferences.
          Rugby simply doesn’t rate here.

          I don’t accept that this media treatment demonstrates a fair and level playing field. It isn’t. Quality rugby that would have more audience is dismissed by media beholden to other codes. Simply put three other codes have got a massive head start on us. Even our world champ and Gold Medalling Women’s sevens are buried under the pages given to WAFL and NRL women’s expansion.

          So it is true that the ARU has failed in the context of providing a current of finance and support of the grassroots and other basics to support 5 Super sides and a Test team. I am one of their critics. But they have traditionally done a lot with little socio-cultural traction.
          The boom in 99-2003 should have provided seed money to grassroots expansion. It didn’t. That was a big mistake. Even bigger in hindsight. But just another mistake on the slippery slope that rugby historically slides along in the OZ football landscape.

          • Roar Guru

            March 19th 2017 @ 10:22pm
            biltongbek said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

            Very sad when you consider how popular rugby are in those areas across the world that do get eniugh exposure to the sport.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 11:33am
              Jock Cornet said | March 20th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

              It could have been the 2nd biggest winter sport. ARU had plenty of money to develop the next tier but spent too much on leaguies and themselves

              • Roar Rookie

                March 20th 2017 @ 3:05pm
                piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

                ARU in general seems to be obsessed with marketing itself as ‘like league only less so’.

                The whole marketing department needs to be given the boot as they don’t seem to understand the game at all.

          • March 19th 2017 @ 10:33pm
            concerned supporter said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:33pm | ! Report

            Ken etc,
            Most of your posting makes sense except you say,
            “Strapped for cash for the same time”
            This is not correct. The ARU in 2003 pocketed AUD $45 Million profit. Then they had plenty of cash.
            Some may say the ARU squandered this cash, others may say they pi**ed it up against the wall.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 10:29pm
              Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

              cs, to my knowledge this has been the only time that the aru was so flush with cash in history. True?
              The mistake was to assume the cash would keep flowing, or
              that the grassroots would benefit from the ‘trickle down’ success of the wallabies? Or some other now obvious delusion.
              The 45million was spent in a mistaken direction. Some sensed it was a mistake at the time.
              Now no one could argue that it wasn’t a mistake. It was a big mistake that we are still paying for. As recently as last weekend.

          • March 19th 2017 @ 10:47pm
            In Brief said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

            I disagree that rugby doesn’t rate – I would say it doesn’t get coverage, which is a different thing. Having said that participation is looking good, so not all gloom and doom.

            • March 19th 2017 @ 11:26pm
              concerned supporter said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:26pm | ! Report

              Hi In Brief,
              In 2016 the AFL distributed AUD $255 Million to its 18 clubs, including AUD $21 Million to GWS Giants.Their Gross Income must have been between AUD $ 350 M to AUD $400 million.How can the ARU compete against this financial avalanche?
              You & others say it doesn’t get coverage. You are right.With this huge money chest would you think that maybe the AFL is paying journalists.., newspapers and other media outlets for AFL coverage.
              In 1960 Alan Freed (he invented the term “Rock n ‘Roll’) and other USA disc jockeys were investigated for Payola, which was the unannounced playing of records for which they were getting handouts from the record companies.Google Payola, Alan Freed.This repetitive exposure sold records.
              If the AFL had the funds to pay its clubs serious monies of AUD $ 255 Million in 2016, I would think that another million $ or two for positive publicity would certainly be money well spent.
              It would be called Marketing & Publicity by the AFL.
              Rugby’s Marketing & Promotion is minimal.The Roar”s journalists like Spiro, Geoff Parkes, Brett McKay and others are exceptions.

              • March 19th 2017 @ 11:33pm
                riddler said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:33pm | ! Report

                for an example of media coverage.. if any of u can get the chance to get the french sports daily.. get it.. especially before a french game.. the first 10-15 pages are rugby.. it is magnificent..

                and that is in a soccer mad country..

              • March 19th 2017 @ 11:45pm
                Alicesprings said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:45pm | ! Report

                Crikey. And for the record AFL revenue in 2017 was approx $520m.

                How the hell did the ARU get into such a pickle. It’s sad to see.

                Gotta make every dollar count.

              • March 21st 2017 @ 11:30am
                Bakkies said | March 21st 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

                The Irish coverage of Rugby is excellent too. So many various podcasts, radio shows and they have ties to the newspapers.

                The Roar is a great site but gee get rid of the geo blocking. All other Rugby sites I visit from various countries post videos from all other countries and you can view them regardless of where you are from

            • March 20th 2017 @ 10:22pm
              Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | March 20th 2017 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

              In Brief, I agree with you. The reason we dont rate is a lack of a fair share of oxygen in the media. The commentators of one code in particular go out of their way to either put rugby down or pretend that it doesn’t exist.

          • March 19th 2017 @ 11:43pm
            Lostintokyo said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:43pm | ! Report

            Ken’s Other Leg.
            You summed up the sad truth.
            Problem is it is going to get much worse.

    • March 19th 2017 @ 10:20pm
      DJW said | March 19th 2017 @ 10:20pm | ! Report

      5 or 4 or 3 teams, it ain’t going to matter until there is decent coaching in Australia. At one stage Australia was the innovators when it came to rugby. Now it looks like the coaching has stood still for years. The Australian super teams are highly predictable and easy to defend against.

      God help us if Larkham is the next Wallabies coach.

      • March 19th 2017 @ 11:28pm
        kunming tiger said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:28pm | ! Report

        ,maybe the problem with the coaching is the unwillingless to take calculated risks, the play it by the numbers kind of thinking, ,risk adverse and largely reactive.

        In terms of decision making the Australian franchises are light years behind their NZ counterparts, the same goes for a lot of other countries. A pre occupation with power and size over skill and speed with superior decision making.

        try this link

        There is a need to recruit coaches who can think outside the box who are not products of the existing system. , who are more flexible in terms of problem solving.

        • March 19th 2017 @ 11:33pm
          riddler said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:33pm | ! Report

          players.. managers.. administrators.. coaches.. refs.. the level of talent is sadly low..

          • March 20th 2017 @ 12:00am
            Lostintokyo said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:00am | ! Report

            The new colourful boots the players wear are pretty good.

            • March 20th 2017 @ 6:12am
              riddler said | March 20th 2017 @ 6:12am | ! Report

              yep they are pretty flash tokyo.. 😉

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