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WHICH WAY ARE WE GOING WITH OUR GAME?

Posted by John Gates on

There is a lot of uncertainty in Australian Rugby at the moment - and Corona Virus is not the culprit - but it may be the catharsis for change.

As certain people in the world say, every crisis presents an opportunity.

There is very divided opinion in Australia as to whether Austrlia needs are best suited by continuing with the SANZAAR model of Super Rugby. Many people are saying that this crisis is the perfect catalyst to take up the opportunity to force much needed change.

On the one hand, there is this massive factional war going on. Rugby Australia was in the middle of negotiating its next 5 year broadcast deal with the major broadcasters. Fox has had the rights ever since day one of Super Rugby 25 years ago. However, there is a groundswell in Australia that Rugby is the poor relation, and nobody argues with that, but many are saying that Free to Air broadcasting is what Rugby needs. unfortunately, there is only one network interested in Rugby so there is no likelihood of a bidding war happening any time soon.

Leading the push is former Wallaby captain, and hard man, Phil Kearns, who, while being an employee of Fox, is also pushing back against RA's attempts to keep the game global. Kearnsey wants to be the next CEO of Rugby Australia, and that would be interesting, given that he is currently an employee of Fox Sports, but he does seem to be a man of his own strong opinons, so it might be interesting to see which way he leans. We are told that he may be an advocate for change, a change back to a grassroots revolution and, there is a major groundswell of support for change.

None of us really understands what agendas are in play, but it looks like the school of thought that Australia should look inwards and go its own way is garnering support.

There is also a school of thought that the Super Rugby setup just makes it easier for New Zealand to win the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby World Cups. That same school of thought thinks that we should revolutionise our own internal systems and structures to make us nationally stronger.

While Rugby Australia needs the revenue from inbound Tests, Super Rugby and TV rights, that same groundswell is saying that we should be looking inwards, re-focussing on our structures and re-building our game from the ground up.

Personally, yours truly would love to see a situation where we went back to our amateur roots, re-built and re-purposed the game to a top down or bottom up model that is uniform across the country, with selection for the national team at the apex, and for us all to play fewer test matches, to preserve the integrity and rarity of test Rugby

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