Perhaps your greatest lessons in sport come against your biggest rivals.
The Wallabies’ record again both South Africa and New Zealand hasn’t been a great one. The Wallabies have played these two rugby union powerhouses 229 times, winning only 71 matches, drawing six and losing 152 times, giving a win percentage of 31 per cent.
While these stats look unflattering, they are true gauges of where your game is at. Having played South Africa 47 times, the Wallabies have only won 11 times.
However, there is a saying in boxing that you don’t improve fighting lesser opponents.
Former All Blacks great Jeff Wilson has called for the All Blacks to start doing old-school tours, not the fly-in-fly-out style of today.
Maybe there is merit for the Wallabies to tour against South Africa or New Zealand to really test and develop their playing ranks.
Perhaps a return to the roots of international rugby is what the game needs. In order for Australia to really compete for the World Cup, it needs battle-hardened soldiers.
South Africa has proved that a strong, uncompromising pack is crucial to winning the greatest prize in rugby. In particular, their towering locks provide the corner stone of an impressive pack.
Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert and RG Snyman provide plenty of depth at the rear of the scrum. Etzebeth has the heart of a lion, taking no backward steps. Australia need to develop such players.
Reds coach Brad Thorn knows what it takes to develop such talent at the Super Rugby level, but the Wallabies must do better as a forward unit coming into the 2023 World Cup.
Having listened to a lot of media discussions over Rugby Australia’s lack of direction under Raelene Castle, it was disappointing that the RUPA CEO Justin Harrison’s best solution to start dates was to follow the NRL’s lead.
Really? Come on, that old chestnut again?
Rugby union must get out of rugby league’s shadows and make its own decisions. That’s what all the push for change was about.
That would be like Manchester United asking Liverpool what it should be doing.
When things go wrong in sport, it is easy to panic, turn on each other or come up with erratic ideas. At the moment, rugby is covering all bases here.
The media will dine out on sporting controversy and failure. It is up to all of rugby in Australia to lift itself up and present the code in a professional and unified manner.
Rugby Australia is in deep, shark-infested waters struggling to get to shore. It needs to get on and appoint a CEO and lock in Dave Rennie as coach because if he wanders off, it will set the Wallabies’ programme back at least a couple of years.
The rugby public should be able to have input on network decisions through club voting or through the various unions.
Is Foxtel really the best offer on the table? It is seen as the NRL channel.
And will it be the best for rugby at all levels, or does Optus have better things to offer?
With such an important decision, all of rugby in Australia should have input.
There has been a lot of talk about grassroots rugby and its importance. Why not involve the local clubs in such an important decision, not just a handful of ex-players?