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The Roar


Will the demise of Australian rugby influence the All Blacks' standards?

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Roar Guru
25th September, 2023
1309 Reads

If any New Zealanders are enjoying the demise of Australian rugby, they may not realise the ramifications of an under-powered Australian team affecting New Zealand.

I cannot get over how enthusiastic Kiwi supporters get when they beat a second-rate Australian team, it is not that great of an achievement considering the current Wallabies’ record. It builds an inflated view of the strength of New Zealand rugby, which compared to the standard of the Northern Hemisphere teams is inferior.

For New Zealand rugby to dominate the world scene once again, they need to be battling an Australian team in our corner of the world. If we are beating them by convincing margins, it will do little to boost the NZ game. If Australia slips to a Tier 2 team, they are probably already there, it will not assist the All Black desire to once again be the innovative leader we once were.

If New Zealand are eliminated from the World Cup in the quarter-final stage, we could potentially have the two neighbouring countries languishing outside the elite level of rugby. Tell this to the devoted Kiwi fan and the ‘she’ll be right’ mentality kicks in, but the reality does not invite positive thought. “We’ve been through this before and we will come out of it again” – but will we?

Australian rugby is in deep trouble with no apparent desire to restructure the game from the ground up. Changing the coach and paying for hopefully good rugby league players are the only current means of repair. I wrote a recent article about my thoughts on how to fix Australian rugby: treat it like the building of a house, start with the foundations and build up.

Former coach Alan Jones said in 2017, “we’ve got to go back to the floor of the game.” Speaking of Alan Jones, why is a rugby brain like his not being listened to for ideas on how to improve Australian rugby? I can hear the groans already; the much-maligned Jones does not exactly adhere to the “identity politics” brigade in Australian society.

Will Skelton of Australia tackled by All Blacks. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)


If egos were taken out of the equation, a suggested start for Australian rugby is to combine the best rugby minds to brainstorm how to rebuild what was once a proud rugby-playing nation.

For Kiwi fans of a mature age, memories of past epic encounters with Australia are a distant rugby highlight. Would it not be wonderful to get back to that again? And it’s necessary for rugby in both countries to aim for the number one and two rankings again.

Maybe the early exit of Australia, and potentially of New Zealand, from the World Cup will be the spark to take drastic action and lift both teams. If no action is taken, I can see both sides becoming the easy beats of world rugby. Doesn’t sound plausible? It is crystal ball gazing but if my prediction of early exits comes to fruition, a trans-Tasman movement needs to begin.

Eddie Jones deserves the flak he is getting and will get for his outrageous decisions, but if he is sacked and Hamish McLennan resigns, the wider rugby community needs to unite in a constructive mission to create better players who have the skills and the mental agility to rebuild Australian rugby.

It is no fault of the players selected as they are the best available, with a few exceptions! We will never know if Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper would have made any difference; I have a feeling not a great deal.

The two teams compete in a scrum during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Wales and Australia at Parc Olympique on September 24, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Wallabies compete in scrum during Rugby World Cup loss to Wales (Photo by Adam Pretty – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

When you have a story about your coach allegedly applying for another job prior to the World Cup it does not do a lot for morale! An outrageous decision to make if found to be true. They have said it did not affect them, but I have my doubts.


Fans will want Australian rugby to get better. Now it is not terminal but is certainly life-threatening, will a cure be found?

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Strong Australia makes for a stronger New Zealand.