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MDiddy

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Joined April 2020

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Writer, filmmaker and traveller. Lover of all sports, but rugby is #1. www.mattdurrantworks.com

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Yes I thought that at the time too. Part of why I’m conflicted over Giteaus Law. In some cases it could provide a short term solution but overall as a long term concept I think it will erode the consistency of our national team and potentially cheapen the Wallaby jersey.

Both Giteau and Mitchell had recent familiarity in Europe with the playing conditions and players in other teams, so I appreciate that was an advantage. But I would have much rather we had settled on a team two or three years out and not have had to resort to calling in the calvary that would have had less of a connection to the system and players around them.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

I’m working on this with the documentary that I’m making. The body of evidence that supports how a country can do more with less is out there already and I think it can directly apply right now to Australian rugby.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

Yes, we have to realise our place in what is a very competitive sports market place. But we should also remember that at one point in time while AFL and League continued to flourish, the Wallabies had no problems in selling out the MCG and Super Rugby had a strong following. There is no reason why we can’t fit somewhere in between it all and as the standard and interest grows, we lure in the sports mad fans who have no hesitation in following two or even three different codes.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

Might have been a slight advantage but only contingent on us actually playing them, which was not known given the draw.

Regardless, without him returning to Australia a year earlier to be part of the lead up and to reconnect with the systems he left at the Tahs and then the Wallabies, I’m not convinced he would have made that much of a difference.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

The implication being that he would have been more familiar with the English opposition?

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

This takes me back to when you’d break out of work at 5pm (AEST), get to the pub in time to watch the NZ match, then follow it with a Tahs/Brumbies/Reds game and lastly round it off with the Force match in Perth. As a Force fan, it was rarely a good ending but a great way to start the weekend.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

You’re exactly right, it’s hard to make direct comparisons. Both those codes have longer histories than SR with numerous internal rivalries that go back to famous matches, or just merely through geography. Bulldogs and Essendon come to mind, everyone against Collingwood, etc.

I was more making the point about them having a more friendly schedule, especially for the people with kids. Being able to turn the TV on at just about any time of the day on a weekend and have the same sport played by familiar teams is easy for an entire household to engage with.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

Would he have really made a difference?

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

I think one of the more common criticisms is that it is compared (in Australia) to the regular schedules that rugby league and Aussie rules enjoy, whereby spectators can watch games from Friday to Sunday continuously and at perfect time slots. While Australia can try to manage the schedule for their own Super Rugby teams, the product is fundamentally weaker because the engagement by rugby fans in non-Australian teams is incredibly low.

Contrast that with AFL or league and you will have a sizeable portion of audiences tuning in to whichever team is playing on Friday night or Sunday afternoon, irrespective of whether it’s their team or not.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

If you have built a team over a longer period of time, then the culture and shared goals are just a by-product. It can be sustained as long as you can keep the players together. So Erasmus had two years to get there and he did it by selecting as many of the same players as possible and using pre-existing combinations between players.

But this wasn’t a preference, this was his only option. Ideally you have all your best players locally playing together who can then transfer that effort upwards.

While I’m not favourable to selecting overseas players, guys that have been in the system for a long time, then go overseas and return for a WC will probably require less effort in fitting back in with the team culture, vision, dream, etc. Which is why Giteaus Law at least encourages that to happen.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

You need more than a few months. South Africa had to build that team over two years.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

Thanks for your article Geoff. Insightful as always. Can I just make a point of saying that anyone reading this article or these comments who hasn’t read Geoff’s book, would not be wasting their time in doing so. It accurately captures the evolving landscape that is global professional rugby and paints the picture of Australian rugby’s complex predicament around revenue models and the talent drain. Not trying to turn this into an Amazon review, but worth pointing out in case people read this article and want to gain a better understanding.

I would rather we stay hard line on “Giteaus Law” and believe it should only be enacted in desperate circumstances. Overall, it’s not a great long term option. Sure, we had Giteau and Mitchell brought back to boost the Wallaby squad in 2015 but were they honestly the difference? And wasn’t it just a band aid solution over the fact that we had had a fair degree of uncertainty in our backline play making positions around that time. The come down after that boost was that the gaps they filled were still there and the flaws were exposed immediately in 2016. Plus players like Matt Toomua, who were overlooked after playing locally, then decided to go overseas and was lost to our system for 2 years.

This is all part of the inevitable pain we are going to face. However if the right people are listened to and egos are put to the side, there is a chance Australian rugby can model itself to have the right balance of professional players in a domestic competition that gives spectators enough premium rugby while also laying down the foundations for a system that can increase the chances of Wallaby success.

The Wrap: Giteau’s Law must survive, but with a twist

Nice article mate, like a lot of us, you’ve obviously been staying up late and poring over calendars, schedules, union structures and making notes and diagrams.

I do like the idea of the rugby season being a calendar year build up, starting with a wide base of NRC teams, then switching to smaller representative teams and then into the International season. I suppose the leftovers from the NRC teams who don’t make the Tahs/Reds/Brumbies would return back to club rugby? Presumably these would be semi-professional players.

Like anything that’s being thrown up especially my own proposals, a lot of what ifs, given the unpredictable future of Super Rugby, the true motives of New Zealand and more importantly the financial situation of Rugby Australia to float such a competition. The focus on this latter seems to be getting closer and closer to being realised if recent news reports are to be believed.

I’m in favour of the reduction in three rep teams but the shorter season and decreased regularity of the rep teams playing together will mean that the combinations between players in contention for Wallaby selection will be limited. Same for the Kiwis, should they be involved, although some of their current franchises have strong alignment with their Mitre 10 feeder clubs so they would probably perform as well as they usually do.

I think the point has been made in these comments already, but the talk of World Rugby’s changing calendar continues to add another unknown element into the mix. If the July window for international tests was moved to the end of the year it would benefit the Southern Hemisphere teams who would have had a full year of playing and building consistency but you’d have to think a 10-11 month season would have a strain on the players at some point.

My blueprint for Australia's rugby calendar

That’s what I’m afraid of. I suppose this was always on the horizon. Perhaps the only positive in our position right now is that we have a large amount of Wallaby potentials who are early into their playing career and will be able to afford to stay around. As for the 500K plus group…hopefully some of them prefer our warm company and superior coffee.

Is it time for us to own the Wallabies?

Thanks Muglair, a very comprehensive and interesting comment.

The one point that sticks out to me is the blurred line between professional and amateur. I would definitely prefer to have this line demarcated but as we see with our premier first grade competitions, it’s hard to operate without some semblance of semi-professionalism.

I like the idea of club financial members having a vote that carries at a national level. It might actually encourage all members to pay their subs at the early end of the season.

Is it time for us to own the Wallabies?

It’s a fair point. But at least we could actually put our concerns to the board at an AGM rather than on an internet forum.

Is it time for us to own the Wallabies?

Aren’t we already heading towards privatisation? What other options are there? The money they will need is not going to come from the government, nor should it. World Rugby will only be giving a nominal amount to all the unions.

Is it time for us to own the Wallabies?

Yes, I was having this discussion with a couple of people this week with all the speculation around just how bad the financial hole we are in actually us.

Agree on the factional issues, but no system is ever going to be perfect. I would have loved to see that Own The Force proposal play out, could have been a good proof of concept for something that could be possible at the national level.

Is it time for us to own the Wallabies?

Fair point, definition accepted.

It hasn’t just been the All Blacks owning us in recent years though, has it? I feel a sense of inevitability that a loss to a team like Japan is just around the corner. The chink in our once might gold armour has been made bigger and now just about every team in the top 13 smells blood when they play us.

Is it time for us to own the Wallabies?

Appreciate your opinion. Hopefully you have something worthwhile to contribute. We have no shortage of punters screaming from the cheap seats.

Australian rugby: A blueprint for the future

Bit late to the comments on this one, but I think there is (and always has been) a general sentiment amongst even the most casual observers that Quade was a fruit we did not get all of the juice out of. Added to the fact he had his moments of madness that didn’t attract fans from home, and you had a player that drew equal parts frustration and excitement.

I like the missing Lynagh to Quade’s Ella theory you have put together. I feel that after 2011 the success of the Reds was partly down to McKenzie managing to extract the best out of him. Quade was a talent that had to be managed and to some degree not left alone to spin his magic.

When we were kings: Is there still room for rugby’s Quade Coopers?

It may work short term given the current crisis of travel restrictions and season upheaval but as soon as that levels out, the top end of Mitre 10 players would be snapped up by the European and Japanese leagues for at least double what they earn in NZ and you would have a competition that suddenly is not as valuable as when it started.

NZ’s saleable product isn’t just the brand of rugby they play, it’s the personalities involved in showcasing that brand.

The Wrap: No easy answers for Australian rugby

10 ex-captains sending a letter didn’t change the direction that the ship was sailing. The knives were already out and the wheels in motion for a coup.

By serving NZ interests they need to engage Australia, that is my point. No one is addressing the fact that a domestic NZ competition would not increase in value and compete with the European or Japanese leagues. Currie Cup fills a local appetite in SA where rugby is the number one sport, but the best players in South Africa don’t play in South Africa. NZ have to leverage off a provincial international competition if they want to stay afloat and ensure that their eggs aren’t all in the All Black revenue raising basket.

It’s not about being friends, it’s about looking at what is around you and how best to use the region otherwise we will get swallowed up by whatever is happening in the north.

The Wrap: No easy answers for Australian rugby

This is a great point. People argue that the lack of money in the PI countries would make teams based there completely unfeasible, yet they forget the diaspora of Fijians, Tongans and Samoans spread between NZ and Oz. Not saying they would balance out the entire cost of creating a team but when you currently have sub 10,000 crowds at Super Rugby games, the contingent of local PIs that would attend would be nothing to sniff at.

The Wrap: No easy answers for Australian rugby

I think it’s worth considering whether there is a greater good that Australia and potentially NZ need to consider. That being, are we better off as countries playing in our own backyards at the professional level and only coming together for Bledisloe, or, are we both mutually better off continuing to feed off each other and develop the top band of our talent in a SR type/Trans Tasman competition. I appreciate that Australia has dropped the ball in recent times in this regard (although 2020 form was looking promising) but a stronger Australia will also mean a stronger New Zealand. I think if the Kiwis decide to stay in their bubble they will start to lose their edge, not to mention they will not attract the broadcast dollars to keep a hold of their top talent.

At some point we need to consider banding together in true ANZAC spirit to stand firm against the barbarians from the northern hemisphere.

The Wrap: No easy answers for Australian rugby