Opinion

RUGBY AUSTRALIA’S REPORT CARD 2021

As the curtain comes down on our game, in 2021, it’s time to look at what is in store for Rugby, in Australia, next year.

The club scene is strong, with a host of players using Sydney’s Shute Shield and Brisbane’s Hospital Cup to launch their professional careers.

It continues to disappoint, though, that some clubs are still hiring average Kiwi coaches when there are talented Australian coaches on hand.

Our provincial game remains a huge financial burden to rugby.

I mustn’t be the only person disappointed that Rugby Australia has abandoned Super Rugby AU and opted to go back to a Super Rugby format that will be dominated by New Zealand teams.

Test rugby is in a much better place thanks to the virtual scrapping of the absurd Giteau Law.

The jury is out on the Wallabies and coach Dave Rennie.

They were outclassed by the All Blacks, but showed grit against South Africa; unfortunately, the season ended with a slump on the Spring Tour of the UK, but we didn’t have our best side on the paddock.

To his credit, Dave Rennie seems to have put together a happy side, with a sense of team.

But he has often failed on the selection front.

The first obligation of an Australian coach is to pick the best players, wherever they might be.

You can’t be a successful coach if you are not a successful selector; and that is where the problem still remains in Australian rugby.

Next year, we will host a three-test series against the newly minted England team, coached by Eddie Jones.

We can’t afford to be rolled at home like we were in 2016.

All eyes are on the Sevens programs.

I will write elsewhere about the latest on that front.

While the Women’s team did very well in Dubai, the Men’s team have not tasted success for a long time and Rugby Australia have pretended to address the problem by putting the same jockeys on different horses.

One of the great weaknesses of the Rugby Administration is that they have tin ears.

They seem unwilling to consult and equally unwilling to embrace ideas that they didn’t think of first.

So let me repeat the first and most important point.

We must democratise Rugby Australia to increase the engagement of rugby supporters.

Those same supporters must be given a say.

Follow the Barcelona FC model and vote in our leaders.

Shake the joint up.

Make them accountable.

Make leaders accountable; and the Administration can make a few bob along the way.

Second, the participation numbers remain artificially pumped up thanks to the big Independent Schools and their rugby programs.

The concussion issue needs serious consideration to ensure that parents remain committed to their kids playing our game.

And finally, we need to be tapping into the talent in Western Sydney and along the Brisbane/Gold Coast corridor.

There are gifted kids everywhere and we are not doing enough to attract them to our game.

The report card says, at year’s end, there is much yet to be done.

I am not sure that our rugby ‘leaders’ are on the job or up to the job.

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