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Opinion

The rugby media need to be careful not to kill the game they rely on

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Roar Pro
5th December, 2019
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Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne and CEO Raelene Castle have made recent comments about their desire for the media to talk more about the good things going on in rugby and less about Rugby Australia’s corporate woes.

Rugby Australia has been the author of its own misfortune in that regard over the last five years. There have been some terrible decisions made, which have been terribly managed in public. However, with the World Cup out of the way and the Israel Folau matter resolved, those problems are hopefully drawing to a conclusion.

This is great, because following rugby is supposed to be entertaining for the fans, who find sports pages full of tales of woe about Australian rugby’s off-field problems depressing and boring. Many things have needed to be said about the way rugby has been run, but it is time for the media to play its part in starting a new chapter in our game.

The media needs to be mindful that if constant boring and negative off-field content contributes to fans switching off rugby, the rugby media will be helping to destroy the game that they rely on for stories. For an enthusiastic amateur like myself, that would be a shame, because I enjoy writing about rugby for its own sake. But for those who make a crust out of this gig, a decline in rugby will ultimately harm their careers.

Wallabies lineout.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia chooses a new president in April and there is constant speculation in the media about whether Castle will survive what has happened. That was highlighted in her interview after the Folau mediation, when journalists aggressively questioned her about whether she thought she would be sacked, as well as one arguing on public interest grounds that she should disclose the confidential settlement with Folau.

It’s time for those journalists to give those sorts of questions a rest. The public interest when it comes to rugby lovers is that going forward, our teams are successful and that we all enjoy the beautiful game.

After the last five years of drama, I give zero damns about whether Raelene Castle stays or somebody else becomes CEO and I care even less about being kept up to date on the opinion of everybody who has one on the issue.

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There are no guarantees as to whether any prospective replacement for Castle will do a better job post 2020 and fans are in no real position to influence decision-makers on the matter anyway.

So how about we all commit to grinding our axes in private and concentrate on writing and talking about the rugby?

There is some amazing rugby to look forward to in 2020. Highlights include the Sydney Sevens coming up in February, which will build the anticipation towards the women’s gold medal defence at next year’s Olympics.

We also have an outstanding batch of young men from this year’s under-20s team coming through into Super Rugby and hopefully the Wallabies, who will be mentored by a new coach in Dave Rennie with a track record of success. I can’t wait to see whether Rennie can make the NZRU regret their indecisiveness about appointing a new All Blacks coach.

Season 2020 is the year that rugby journos should make a new year’s resolution to play their part in making the next decade the new ’90s for Aussie rugby.