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Retract or expand: Where to for rugby in Australia?

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Roar Rookie
19th August, 2021
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Gorden Tallis is a man known for being a loyal, tough as guts type of bloke, not to mention being a proud old boy of the GPS Gallopers rugby club in Brisbane.

Now he is not necessarily known for his logical opinions on the sport of rugby league, Tallis threw this up on Triple M’s Rush Hour program hosted by Ben Dobbin, “If we’re serious about being the NRL, we have to be national. We’ve got to go to Perth.”

It is still fairly applicable remark about the sport of rugby union in Australia. In any case, we should recall ‘the days’ when the Wallabies were very good.

The Wallabies used to win Bledisloe Cups and World Cups. They would be on big billboards on highways and on Weet-Bix commercials.

However, when the Wallabies were successful, the provincial rugby system in Australia was only three strong teams being the Queensland Reds, the Waratahs, and the Brumbies.

These sides were full of Wallabies players. Now some might ask as to why we should change a successful formula and yes there is an argument for that.

If there was no Melbourne Rebels and if Reece Hodge was at the Waratahs and Matt To’omua was at the Brumbies the current teams would be just as strong as the Reds, Waratahs and the Brumbies were in the late 90s and early 2000s – and would hopefully be winning competitions.

Would rugby be more of a minority sport than it is now or would it be stronger?

Ben Darwin, who is the founder of Gainline analytics and is a former Wallabies front rower, argues that throughout his research on Australian rugby, expansion would only hinder Australian rugby.


He says that three teams would allow the Wallabies a greater chance to win more World Cups.

He also believes that with only three quality teams, the Wallabies could have a more cohesive environment in camp.

But then again if we did not have a Melbourne-based team like the Rebels, we wouldn’t have the likes of Jordan Uelese, Pone Fa’amausili, Rob Leota, Trevor Hosea, Pete Samu, Rob Valetini, Christian Lealifano and Hunter Paisami who were all born and bred Melbournites.

Is it finally time to go on our own as a domestic tournament with seven teams in the competition? Is there a desire for more rugby in the West of Sydney or in Adelaide?

Is it in RA’s best interests to keep growing the game beyond its means?


I know its age old, but should we revert to the three-team model and hope that Wallabies success grows the game or is expansion required?