After what has been one of Rugby Australia’s most tumultuous periods, including the Israel Folau saga and our underperforming Wallabies, RA has decided to restructure their junior pathway further in a deliberate attempt to exclude schools rugby from their agenda.
They will further underwrite the schools rugby pathway by deciding to choose two academy teams from New South Wales and Queensland and a team each from Western Australia and Victoria to hold their own championships in July next year in direct conflict with the Australian schools championships, which would have occurred around the same time.
This year there was one team each from New South Wales and Queensland, from which they picked their under-18s team. It was not a schools team as it did not go through a schools pathway or selection process.
While they did have success in defeating the New Zealand under-18s, this is another flagrant attempt to completely undermine and reject any relevance of a schools pathway, even though such a pathway has successfully existed for around 50 years, affording almost 200 schoolboys each year the chance to further their development and represent not only their associations but also their state and country.
As far as I know, this decision was made without consultation, even though RA has always maintained that its priority is to acknowledge both the schools programs and their roles in identifying junior talent. Transparency has been lacking throughout the process, which appears to deny that teachers and schools have any role in helping develop schoolboy teams.
Rugby Australia is inundated with capable coaching and administrative personnel to go it alone and ignore the fact that for the past 50 years teachers have made a valuable contribution to developing our young players. There are a number of former Wallabies out there who could attest to the opportunity their school pathway and coaches gave them. For RA to completely ignore this is typical of the dysfunctional way it operates.
When will they realise that all rugby groups need to work together, not against each other?
Isn’t it time for a complete clean-out at RA? It is this arrogance and ignorance that continues to plague rugby in Australia.
It’s time to take a broomstick to RA and get some people in these positions who can bring the rugby fraternity together for the common good before it’s too late… if it isn’t already.