It was Aesop who first said, “united we stand, divided we fall” – and fall we did. While there’s a myriad of factors that have contributed to the decline of Australian rugby, there can be no excuses.
After canvassing opinions throughout the community – some of which admittedly were more solicited than others – I’ve distilled what seem to be the common threads. So for all you failure apologists, let it be known – I’ve heard your voice. Now – in the interest of unity – it’s time for you to hear mine…
We don’t have the player base
While there may be some truth to this statement, it comes with an asterisk. Granted, South Africa has more registered players at 650,000 – followed by France’s 360,000, England’s 340,000 and New Zealand’s 150,000. Australia sits ninth on the list with only 100,000 players – which is broadly consistent with the Wallabies International Rugby Board ranking of sixth and their quarter-final exit.
However, raw playing numbers are only part of the story – it’s how these players are resourced that matters. For example, Sri Lanka has a similar number of players to Australia – but the Brave Elephants won’t be challenging for a World Cup any time soon. Our privilege is no excuse for mediocrity.
We don’t have the coaches
Current form aside, it’s hard to argue that the Wallabies have been historically under-coached. Since the last golden era – at the turn of the century – our clipboard-holders have been Eddie Jones, John Connolly and Robbie Deans. They’re all in the top echelon and were in-form appointments.
And look at the quality they beat out – with the likes of Jake White and David Nucifora never earning a cap. I’m pretty sure coaching’s not the issue.
We don’t have the pathways
While this has been true in the past, the National Rugby Championship is bridging the gap. A true second tier competition is a must. Just look at what the old Americas Rugby Championship did in one paltry year. Plus we’ve got academies, well-heeled clubs and a strong foundation at the school level. So with pathways now in place, this is a no longer an excuse.
And what’s my point? We have the player base, the coaches and the pathways – what we don’t have is unity. It’s time to come together and get behind a solution – with no more finger pointing, no more tribalism and no more excuses.
As a community, what we choose to accept defines what we can achieve. And it’s time to stand united.