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The Roar



'Trapped in this recurring nightmare': My new plan to resuscitate rugby

Roar Rookie
27th September, 2021
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Roar Rookie
27th September, 2021
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This is my new plan to revive rugby union in Australia. 

Rugby needs to reduce ticket costs. When I was growing up, junior rugby players got free entry into the outer at Super Rugby. We need young fans. Let them in for free. It will be a worthwhile investment.

Sport is a category of entertainment. We are competing for people to spend their hard-earned dollars to watch rugby entertainment. Fans want tries. To score more tries, defences need to be fatigued.

Just as Eddie Jones suggested last year, we need to limit the amount of interchanges to six. It’s too easy for big guys to catch their breath and re-form the defensive line. Bring the little man back into the game by rewarding endurance.

I cannot understand why rugby would schedule a game to clash with the AFL grand final. There’s only ever going to be one clear winner.

No late games. Young kids cannot attend matches that kick off after 8pm. We are shooting ourselves in the foot here. I understand with COVID we are doing double headers but I’d ask the broadcasters to use a little common sense and move things forward by at least 30 minutes.

(Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

In cricket I always loved the Australia versus Australia A match. It was a fierce rivalry. Why not copy it for rugby. Have a televised match before the internationals start. Other options include Australia Pasifika versus the rest or a State of Origin-style match.

Even in this professional era, players do not need to be training every day. It should be mandatory for Super Rugby teams to have a half day per week in the community.


Nothing is more inspiring for junior rugby players than meeting their heroes. It may sound naïve but community initiatives should trump sponsorship requirements.

Media responsibility
When I pick up the newspaper, is there any danger of seeing a positive rugby story celebrating three wins in a row rather than the latest rugby league player to get arrested for misbehaving?

When you view some sports websites, rugby is the last listed sport. It is even behind boxing and NFL!

Could we please introduce a Super Rugby NBA-style combine or draft? It would nicely complement Rugby Australia’s proposed television of schoolboy rugby.

You could have a week-long camp testing sports biometrics. It would generate community interest in the game at a grassroots level. It would also provide another broadcast opportunity for a mendicant union.

Parochial, protectionist unions will argue this disincentivises local academies, but you can weight the draft picks to favour local products.

A general view of a lineout at sunset

(Photo by Richard Heathcote – World Rugby via Getty Images)

When it comes to gaps in play, the two rugby codes have gone in polar opposite directions. Rugby league has simplified things by essentially eliminating scrums and introducing the six-again rule. This has sped the game up and made it more exciting and easy to follow for casual fans.


Rugby union has gone the other way. Union has introduced more laws at the breakdown. More laws are subject to differing interpretations across the globe.

It has become so choked and convoluted that even rugby commentators often find it hard to understand some rulings. Referees should endeavour to avoid technical penalties like when players on the ground make a tackle.

I want to see referees facilitating the play rather than looking to penalise players. Rule confusion would have to be one of the main complaints from my friends when I try to lure them to a game.

Stoppages are a slow poison. The current verbose English referees in the Rugby Championship love a conference discussion with the TMO. I want these limited to 30 seconds. I felt the highly efficient TMO use during Super Rugby AU was a good example of the haste required.

Also, I don’t want referees having detailed chats with the players in the last 15 minutes of the game… just keep it moving. I want referees cracking down on players milking stoppages to do up shoe laces. I want a shot clock up for penalties, conversions and line drop-outs to speed things up. Ninety seconds would suffice.

I hate it when players milk penalties such as when scrum halves throw it at retreating players. After one warning, this could perhaps be a five-minute green card offence.

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Check your comms before play. It’s really annoying when at the first requirement for the referee to liaise with the TMO, the communication equipment fails.


Empower the referees to use a little common sense. Once a TMO check is referred for high contact, the first thing they do is put it in super slow-motion. Everything looks worse in super-slow motion. In every circumstance it ends up being a card until proven otherwise.

They will show replays ad nauseam to support a card decision. It reminds of when they replay catches in cricket to see if it has carried.

The replays often don’t help facilitate a verdict, rather they provide five minutes of dead space during the coverage. I would rather the TMOs intervene to eliminate a howling miss.

I know the Bledisloe is our big rivalry. However don’t blow all your promotion budget on this game as we usually don’t win.

It’s really deflating for new fans when they switch on to the Bledisloe only to see the Wallabies cop another flogging. When we attract fans to the game, we need a win. Save some of the budget for more likely wins against other teams.


I loved the Rupert McCall clip on the Golden Thread. I also love the Matt Nable promotional videos although I suspect with his acting success, these may be getting a little expensive.

It wasn’t that long ago that rugby almost bankrupted itself out of existence. For whatever reason it was trapped in this recurring nightmare, unable to progress towards recovery.

For so long Australian rugby was paralysed by bureaucracy and in-fighting. Australian rugby teams forgot how to win. The trophy cabinets were bare and the coffers were skint.

A willing team has now inherited this game and taken up the fight. A pulse has returned the domestic game but there is no silver bullet cure. Rather there are stages of recovery.

There are many things that we can do to assist the healing process.