There is an old saying in love that one should find someone who makes you stronger, not someone who tries to break you down.
As Australian rugby stares itself in the mirror during what is clearly something of a mid-life crisis, we collectively need to start examining those in our life that aren’t good for us. We’ve pushed away a coach, a CEO, now even our friends across the Tasman are no certainties to remain in our future.
But one character remains, conspicuous in its immutable presence throughout our decline; the tired old man that is News Corp.
There are countless factors that have contributed to the decline of rugby’s popularity in recent times, but the possessive shielding from public view by the Foxtel paywall is almost universally accepted as, at least, one of the significant contributing factors.
Then, as we began to recognise our self-worth lay in the public consciousness and not Pay TV rights, we attempted to separate ourselves from the relationship no doubt first consummated in a Sydney University Alumni Party in the mid-90s. It was at this point, as is so often the case, the true nature of News Corp was laid bare.
This “corporate partner” which had promised to love and support us immediately resorted to the scorched Earth tactics of a scorned lover. Utilising the full weight of a media empire that determines democratic elections across the free world, it embarked on a policy of destroying the value of Australian rugby until it had so little self-worth it would have no option but to come crawling back, a shadow of its former self and absolved of all delusions of independence.
Political strongmen are routinely brought to bend at the knee from fear of the Murdoch empire. I suspect every man and woman involved in the resurrection of Australian rugby right now fears the fate that was delivered to Raelene Castle for daring to look elsewhere.
But we must walk away. We must absorb the arrows in the back as we do. Now more than ever it is clear this company wants nothing of our success. It wants only to control us as a product.
Like anyone leaving a toxic relationship, the first few steps are the hardest. We don’t know where we will go. Who will possibly love us?
Get back to the mirror. Look at who is staring back. This is the sport that is growing around the world. This is the sport that used to sell out the Olympic Stadium. This is the sport with almost unlimited potential for expansion and international engagement beyond anything other Australian sports can muster.
We are worthy of so much more than every Fox Sports and Daily Telegraph article is designed to convince us of.
We can either believe in ourselves and grow, or we can sheepishly grovel back to the cruel partner that told anyone that would listen we weren’t worth having.
Please, Rugby Australia, for the sake of all of us… find the courage to walk away from News Corp.