Donald Horne wrote The Lucky Country in 1964, and though the title has become an iconic phrase for Australians, it has been universally misinterpreted.
Horne’s ironic title was meant as derision. His book described a country rich in natural resources which survived because of its natural endowments despite having second-rate managers running the place. If it weren’t for our abundant natural wealth, Horne contended, we’d have bankrupted the place long ago. The lucky country indeed.
Horne may as well have been writing about the Waratahs. Vast natural resources, generations and depth of talent, history and wealth, yet never fulfilling their potential.
It brought me to consider one pre-season Super Rugby interview, which sheds some light on why some will succeed and thrive while others will merely survive – and survive because they are lucky and richly endowed despite second-rate leadership.
These cliche-ridden quotes, which aired in a short segment on Fox Sports’ Super Rugby Wrap, indicate abstract values and a lack of connection at a personal level. We have the same sort of leaders in the Wallabies too.
Michael Hooper had time to say something meaningful, but offered this instead:
“We’re a year further on with the main bulk of our squad. We’ve got some great experience and energy coming back; a couple of our older players bumping the average age up nicely. The core of the group that was around last year takes all that learning and that good feeling into the year. So you learn a lot. You know what works and can take it up another level from there and that’s what it is for us. Taking it up a level and living positively through the year – it’s a huge factor for us.”
Michael, that is utter nonsense.
Kurtley Beale, too, had the chance to add something meaningful.
“The squad we had last year has now got the experience of playing in big games, a lot of experience there that they can really use this year, and I think we have a lot of firepower in our roster this year so it’s up to us as a squad to take advantage of that.”
I beg your pardon?
Daryl Gibson added: “We want to play positively. We’ve always been a team that scores tries, but I think our challenge in 2019 is to be far tougher in defence – stop teams scoring. So while we’ve been known for nice attack, we want to be known in 2019 for defence.”
Then you have Dave Wessels, Dane Haylett-Petty, Quade Cooper and Will Genia. All of them exhibit a clear humanistic connection. They speak in words that show how deeply they relate interpersonally. They exhibit humility and vulnerability.
If anyone didn’t watch the Cooper-Genia piece, I urge you to view it on the Super Rugby Wrap on Kayo. I didn’t realise how strong their relationship truly is – they have a deep respect and genuine warmth for one another. This is why they will be successful. And why the Rebels will be successful this season.
Nothing in the past suggests the Waratahs will succeed with their cliche-ridden nonsense. But they will continue to be lucky – although, like Horne, I don’t mean that as a compliment.