If Australian rugby can be broken, it can be fixed (Part 2): The next leader

El Cao Putrido Roar Rookie

By El Cao Putrido, El Cao Putrido is a Roar Rookie


7 Have your say

    Rugby has to break free of the perception that it is an elitist, private schoolboy game.

    Iconic companies embody the values of their leaders: Virgin is Richard Branson, Apple is (was?) Steve Jobs, Amazon is Jeff Bezos, as Donald Trump is The Apprentice (let’s avoid all the Trumpisms of making rugby great again – rugby is great!).

    Many of these big companies, while running huge profits, don’t pay a dividend. Instead, they reinvest their earnings back into new projects and rely on the capital appreciation of their stock.

    Why can’t rugby reinvest in its own grassroots? After all, by name and definition, it is a union. Profit, TV rights and results are an outcome – important yes, but a union is run for the benefit of its own members, contra to a market.

    A white male with career experience in banking, while ‘qualified’, isn’t exactly going to break the shackles of rugby’s perception that it’s an elitist game. It isn’t really going to sell to a kid growing up in western Sydney, who dreams of playing in the NRL.

    Let’s find someone who inspires confidence – no nonsense, willing to get their hands dirty, and work from the ground up. Whoever takes over will also have to address the Sydney dilemma, where everyone seems to give a generic excuse not to do something.

    Someone who embodies core values which is just confined to rugby union, but sport in general, would be an exemplar candidate.

    The case for centralisation and transparency
    A divide exists between club rugby and the ARU. The fundamental reason a team breaks down is due to an absence of trust and, as it stands, neither the ARU nor administrators seem to be responding to one another.

    For the game to succeed, a collaborative approach is required from all key stakeholder, where we unite on a common objective. Costs can be streamlined, value chains compressed, profits reinvested in human capital. This is sorely lacking where there isn’t a mechanism that allows a decentralised chain of command to take ownership of the game’s future.

    Both clubs, states and the ARU have a reciprocal role to play in making this happen – the case for centralisation of rugby union couldn’t be more needed.

    As it stands, club rugby doesn’t have a material scorecard where the ARU knows how to monitor or track performance. There is sufficient data systems and technology out there to facilitate this, but there isn’t anyone really out there thinking differently on how to marry the clubs, states and national body, and how to thoroughly track all of the talent.

    So why don’t clubs compete for the fundamental reason why any sport prospers: human capital and participation rates.

    In sport, access to talent is your currency, so make clubs compete for juniors and participation rates, providing initiative to take ownership of participation.

    In return, the ARU can grant new territories or zones for the clubs that are growing the game to have a bigger share of the talent pool. We’ll help everyone evenly with financial grants in hosting school camps, paying scouts – finances are distributed evenly assuming the ARU can stump the cash.

    As a substitute, have a correction mechanism for such as a player draft. This may be a restraint of trade, however at least it ensures the game remains competitive and we don’t see cricket scores like we currently have with Penrith in the Shute Shield.

    Resources need to be centrally allocated, but power and decision-making processes must be shared. Clubs can also compete internally for grants or funding – it doesn’t necessarily have to be monetised.

    Clubs can be incentivised for participation rates, contracting players from other codes or establishing networks with clubs in the bush – look at the AFL and how they allocate resources, it works!

    Hesitation and bureaucracy are costing both parties time and money, which is having a precipitative effect and dominating the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

    A ground-up approach could grow the game. Clubs can be rewarded or incentivised based on a mechanism where they compete for resources – have clubs being responsible for developing and growing the game independent of funding of the ARU.

    A mark of a great company is how they turn around problems. There isn’t any point lashing out on social media, nobody can do anything at that point. A governance model and the case for a centralisation, similar to that of England or New Zealand, is pivotal for the game to prosper and inspire a sense of can-do-it-ness for all member unions.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • October 6th 2017 @ 8:17am
      Not so super said | October 6th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      A strong leader will hardly make any difference

    • October 6th 2017 @ 9:46am
      bluffboy said | October 6th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      Absolutely spot on Tahriffic.
      What you have stated is reinforcing what the massive percentage of Roarers and the general public have been saying.
      How can it be so oblivious to so many and yet it is allowed to remain the Status Quo.
      Its the Solution….. What is it and how is it implemented.
      People are fickle creatures, wanting change, but its all to hard, so just complain about it and then wanting change.
      Can anyone tell me how the ARU Board is appointed? Is it self governed? Any of the companies above alternately are responsible to the stake/shareholders, surely it must the be the same here. Surely even representation can be achieved across all the states. It should be up to each union to appoint there own representation.
      Professional sport has been around for a very long time and I’m sure that there is a suitable and viable structure that could govern and support Australian Rugby that be implemented. Clearly the structure in place is not the one for a sustainable future.
      To drag it out again change must be from the top down.

    • Roar Pro

      October 6th 2017 @ 12:39pm
      Crazy Horse said | October 6th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

      Centralization? So the clowns at the EARU can stuff up the community game as they have professional rugby. No thanks. Certainly not until a truly national organisation is put in place. The control of NSW/Qld has to end.

      • Roar Guru

        October 6th 2017 @ 2:29pm
        Timbo (L) said | October 6th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

        It can work, provided that the group has the best interest of all rugby. This includes SA, NT, Tas and country areas.

        There are multiple objectives:

        Winning Wallabies
        Winning Elite Competitions (SR, IPRC, NRC)
        Grass roots from u6’s
        Elite pathways from schools and club rugby.
        Financial viability – More fans, More Bums on seats and eyes on Screens
        We should also take the time to support our poor but very skilled cousins in the Pacific region
        and as Twiggy is doing, tap into the emerging markets.

        It needs a holistic approach casting wide, all inclusive net.

    • October 6th 2017 @ 3:20pm
      Dummy Scissors said | October 6th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

      I think the Board thinks they are the solution and not the problem.

      So we’re kinda stuck, with no external accountability and a system that rewards the ‘insiders’ we can all argue what ‘should’ be done, when all we ‘can’ do is buy tickets and pray.

      My kids got used to watching League over the last few weeks, after we switched off the WBs v Argy.

    • October 6th 2017 @ 5:50pm
      BeastieBoy said | October 6th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

      The ARU are not competent to run the International side of our game let alone domestic. They introduced a TAX on kids playing the game which has pushed away the non privates and many private families as well. I bet they will want to introduce another LEVY soon on club rugby. What we need is for Domestic rugby to be run by a separate body. The Australian Domestic Rugby Union. Club rugby is picking themselves off the ground. Don’t stuff them up now.

    • October 7th 2017 @ 10:39am
      Mal said | October 7th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

      While I agree with the idea of centralisation, it would be suicide for any team (particularly Brums and Rebels) to link with the ARU in its current form after what happened to the Force and their alliance with the ARU.

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