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Thread: SANZAAR is ruining people’s lives with its deafening silence

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    SANZAAR is ruining people’s lives with its deafening silence

    The Australian12:00AM May 13, 2017
    WAYNE SMITH
    Senior sport writerBrisbane
    @WayneKeithSmit


    SANZAAR met in Tokyo yesterday to work out how to ruin *people’s lives.

    It was, they tell me, just a *normally scheduled meeting, one piggybacking on a World Rugby gathering for the 2019 World Cup draw. On the agenda were discussions about the new eligibility rules, the global calendar and something else that I forget. Oh, and Super Rugby. Just a normal meeting, at the end of which *SANZAAR refused to release a statement telling anyone what the hell is going on.

    Make no mistake, SANZAAR is ruining people’s lives, the *Australian Rugby Union is ruining lives. For the past month now, it has been the Western Force family — and by that I mean players, coaches, support staff, their wives and children — who have been put through hell, not knowing what is to become of them. And then, *abruptly, the ARU has simply lost interest and is not hectoring them anymore. It was like having a heartless landlord hammering on the door every day demanding overdue rent and then, suddenly, he is nowhere to be seen.

    Why? Because now the ARU has found a new and potentially easier tenant to evict, the Melbourne Rebels. For months now, the Rebels have been told that they were impregnable, that they had an airtight contract and, besides, the owner wouldn’t sell the franchise if it meant closing down the Melbourne team. But now someone has lifted the lid, broken the seal and they have woken to find themselves contaminated. Does the ARU think there is no cost attached to this? Grown men and women are in tears.

    The ARU prefers to act in *secrecy to avoid having to tell lies. In fact, it has been both secretive and untruthful. It stated after its board meeting in February that it had not chosen “a fall guy”, a team to be axed in the event that *SANZAAR decided — as it actually did in time — to trim Super Rugby from 18 teams to 15.

    But at the SANZAAR gathering in London — don’t you wonder, by the by, how SANZAAR always manages to meet in supercool cities? — Australia reassured its joint venturers that it could divest itself of a team without major dramas. That was either code for the Western Force, which the ARU owned, or it was implicitly inferred. So the ARU either lied after its board meeting or it lied after London, take your pick.

    No one is suggesting that they lied for devious reasons. They feared anything they said could be misconstrued. Yet as this saga has played out over the past two months, surely the ARU must be looking back over its entire *strategy and admitting to itself — if to no one else — that it got it spectacularly wrong. The truth would have been awkward and at times painful, but surely it was the more honourable way of doing this.

    That’s been disappointing but, then, there have been disappointments all the way through this. Someone from Melbourne pointed out this week that it is the Aust*ralian Rugby Union. Well, where are the displays of unity? The rest of Australian rugby has cowered in the corner through all of this, as first the Force, then the Rebels were separated from the herd.

    Keep your head down, don’t *attract attention. And, hey, wouldn’t Reece Hodge look good in our backline?

    And where has the Rugby Union Players Association been? They are the players’ trade union and while it is understandable that they were deliberately lying low and didn’t want to poke the bear while it seemed the ARU would be forced to stick, after all, with all five teams, that boat, to totally mix my metaphors, looks to have sailed. They need to be on the ground in Melbourne, helping their people.

    One person who has been truly inspiring through all of this has been Rebels coach Tony McGahan. Though his heart is breaking, he has still been leading the charge to hold a national summit to try to get rugby moving again. Through all the turmoil, McGahan recognises that the game is in a mess on every level and is trying to do something creative to help, yet still the silent resistance from the ARU to a *summit is almost deafening.

    The idea of a summit was raised in this column on Monday but that’s no reason for the ARU to shy away from it. Other people have expressed precisely the same argument. It’s not a new idea and everyone who is not involved with the ARU or closely aligned to it *believes it necessary. Hell, when even the Super Rugby coaches are coming out and saying “We need this, we want this”, how can the ARU continue to hide behind privately organised meetings that may or may not ever take place?

    Everyone is saying that Aust*ralian rugby is dying. My experience is that it is just the opposite. There is tremendous energy flowing through the club system and observe how closely the Wallabies draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup was followed so closely. People are looking for a reason to get excited.

    Right now, the body that should be channelling this energy, the body that indeed exists for no other reason, is short-circuiting it. The national summit was an idea. Good or bad, we’ll probably never know. But where are the ideas coming from the ARU? One official I contacted about the national summit told me when he took office a *couple of years ago that 14 separate papers were being prepared as part of a blueprint for Australian rugby. There had been enough talkfests, he indicated to me. I was flabbergasted … 14 papers prepared on the quiet. And I knew nothing about any of them! So I asked him what he had made of them. “Oh, I haven’t seen any of them yet.”

    Presumably they are yet to be written or they are gathering dust in the author’s outbox. They need to be brought out into the light to allow rugby luminaries like Bob Dwyer and Rod Macqueen and John Connolly and Rod Kafer to debate their merits. The ARU is like a stately old mansion, too long shut up. It needs fresh air and clear heads. In short, it needs a clean-out.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/spor...264ebf97382c07

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    Talk to the Irish who restructured the game a few years back.

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    Wayne seems just as frustrated as I am. Seems from his piece that there is more heat on the Rebels than anyone now. But I don't take any joy from that at all.

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    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/spor...44b-1494800776

    "If there is one thing this drawn-out saga of culling an Australian Super Rugby side has done, it has been to lay bare the character of people and teams, good and bad. Yesterday morning in Buenos Aires, the character of the Western Force was on display — and it was magnificent to watch.

    For months now, the Force have feared — and with good reason — that they would be the team cut from Super Rugby. Rather than roll over and play dead, they have come out fighting with every pitchfork and sledgehammer that came to hand.

    It takes some gumption, suing your own boss, but that effectively is what the Force have done, taking the Australian Rugby Union to court. Suddenly, too, their press releases have lost all semblance of neutrality. They’ve become bold and assertive and, while it might just be my imagination, the fighting words they’re putting out to the world do seem to bear the imprint of Malcolm McCusker, the former West Australian governor who has taken on the Force’s case pro bono.

    But while the legal avenue seems to be working and indeed looks to have deflected the ARU’s focus away from the Force and on to the Melbourne Rebels, nothing speaks of their determination quite like performances on the pitch. Coach Dave Wessels was bitterly disappointed with last week’s effort against the Sharks in Durban, but that only made him and the team doubly determined to defeat the Jaguares in BA.

    It rolls off the tongue easily enough, doesn’t it, beating the Jaguares at home? But the fact is that of the five sides that have played at Velez Sarsfield this season, only the Sharks have enjoyed any success there. And when you consider that coach Raul Perez selected a virtual Pumas-strength side, with a Test-quality bench to boot, suddenly the magnitude of what the Force achieved shines through.

    The fact is that the 16-6 scoreline is actually misleading. The Force should actually have won by more. No 8 Richard Hardwick should have scored twice, once in the first half when he reached out over the tryline and dropped the ball; the second time when, presumably having learnt his lesson, he kept the ball close to his chest and didn’t reach out for the line.

    But the real travesty was when referee Ben O’Keeffe disallowed a try to James Verity-Amm just after the break because of supposed interference by tighthead Tetera Faulkner.

    Really, what is it with New Zealand referees and Buenos Aires? Kiwis are not only the best players in Super Rugby but the best referees as well, but put them in front of a crowd of passionate Argentinians and their brain turns to mush.

    The Reds complained bitterly about Paul Williams after their match in Buenos Aires — as I’m sure the Brumbies also wanted to do after the Lions match on Friday night — but certainly O’Keeffe’s ruling that Faulkner had provided obstruction for winger Semisi Masirewa defied every known law — except perhaps for the quantum mechanics law that an atom can be in two places at once. No, bad example. The only way Faulkner could have avoided a penalty under O’Keeffe’s logic was to dematerialise.

    Yet still the Force prevailed and the more the game unfolded, the more you realised how exceptionally well-coached this side is. Every player, be he a starter or finisher, played the same way, adhering to the game plan. They attacked the transition zone relentlessly and their physicality was, if not intimidating, at least highly unsettling.

    Adam Coleman surely must be the first player selected for the Wallabies this winter. It could be argued that no Australian controls a game quite like Bernard Foley or that no one has the work rate of Michael Hooper, but Coleman’s aggression is seriously scary. He hates losing and he’s indiscriminate about who he applies that trait to ... Jaguares, Pumas, All Blacks. He didn’t let up against the Jaguares and his aggression and physicality spread throughout the team.

    There was, as usual, no shortage of passion from the Argentinians but they looked uncomfortable when the Force returned it in kind. When outside centre Curtis Rona slung Test prop Ramiro Herrera to the ground and then was awarded a penalty because Herrera retaliated, it showed perfectly the absurdity of rugby laws sometimes — but also the effectiveness of the Force’s “take no prisoners approach”.

    The stunning victory has thrust the Force right into the mix for the Australian conference title and a home final but Wessels is content to leave those discussions to the media pundits. All that he is concerning himself with is making the Force as competitive as they can be in Super Rugby. In his mind, the permutations and combinations about who finishes where in the conference can safely be left to others.

    To hear him talk about his side and how he intends approaching the next 18 months is to be taken back in time to 2010, with Ewen McKenzie discussing the Reds — though without Wessels’ South African accent.

    There is no talk of wins and losses, only of performance and whether the Force have achieved the correct “trajectory” or are on the right “flight path”. McKenzie spoke precisely that way in 2010, the year before the Reds won their title.

    Technically, they play like Billy Meakes, their inside centre, times 15 ... neatly, precisely. Under Wessels and forwards coach Joe Barakat, they outscrummed arguably the greatest scrummaging nation of them all, and from there played simply but with purpose and pace.

    The Michael Foley legacy in this side is unmistakeable but Wessels has added another layer to it, a sense of soul, perhaps. The Force have taken over the old Brumbies’ role, where outcasts and rejects went to find a home. And flourished.

    It’s way too early to suggest Wessels could become a future Wallabies coach but, hell, where’s the fun of writing a rugby column if you cannot predict such things. The ARU and its chief operation’s officer, Rob Clarke, have come under fire lately but one thing they spectacularly got right was appointing Wessels as Force coach. The sceptics, myself among them, believed he had been chosen as a convenient and cheap last coach of the Force.

    He never saw himself in that light, however, and convinced his players to come with him on a wild and tumultuous ride."

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    Bugger me I have fallen off my chair.

    Two down right positive articles from the east that don't have any superior attitude contents contained in them. Just respect! Well done to the boys, the coaches, the board and of course the supporters. It seems that the disgusting situation that the ARU has landed Australian rugby in has polarised even the established school tie Media to break ranks and call it what it is.

    If the Force can keep on playing the way they have minus the Sharks game they will continue to get support and admiration.

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    Generally speaking you aren’t learning much if your lips are moving!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by blueandblack View Post
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/spor...44b-1494800776

    "If there is one thing this drawn-out saga of culling an Australian Super Rugby side has done, it has been to lay bare the character of people and teams, good and bad. Yesterday morning in Buenos Aires, the character of the Western Force was on display — and it was magnificent to watch.

    For months now, the Force have feared — and with good reason — that they would be the team cut from Super Rugby. Rather than roll over and play dead, they have come out fighting with every pitchfork and sledgehammer that came to hand.

    It takes some gumption, suing your own boss, but that effectively is what the Force have done, taking the Australian Rugby Union to court. Suddenly, too, their press releases have lost all semblance of neutrality. They’ve become bold and assertive and, while it might just be my imagination, the fighting words they’re putting out to the world do seem to bear the imprint of Malcolm McCusker, the former West Australian governor who has taken on the Force’s case pro bono.

    But while the legal avenue seems to be working and indeed looks to have deflected the ARU’s focus away from the Force and on to the Melbourne Rebels, nothing speaks of their determination quite like performances on the pitch. Coach Dave Wessels was bitterly disappointed with last week’s effort against the Sharks in Durban, but that only made him and the team doubly determined to defeat the Jaguares in BA.

    It rolls off the tongue easily enough, doesn’t it, beating the Jaguares at home? But the fact is that of the five sides that have played at Velez Sarsfield this season, only the Sharks have enjoyed any success there. And when you consider that coach Raul Perez selected a virtual Pumas-strength side, with a Test-quality bench to boot, suddenly the magnitude of what the Force achieved shines through.

    The fact is that the 16-6 scoreline is actually misleading. The Force should actually have won by more. No 8 Richard Hardwick should have scored twice, once in the first half when he reached out over the tryline and dropped the ball; the second time when, presumably having learnt his lesson, he kept the ball close to his chest and didn’t reach out for the line.

    But the real travesty was when referee Ben O’Keeffe disallowed a try to James Verity-Amm just after the break because of supposed interference by tighthead Tetera Faulkner.

    Really, what is it with New Zealand referees and Buenos Aires? Kiwis are not only the best players in Super Rugby but the best referees as well, but put them in front of a crowd of passionate Argentinians and their brain turns to mush.

    The Reds complained bitterly about Paul Williams after their match in Buenos Aires — as I’m sure the Brumbies also wanted to do after the Lions match on Friday night — but certainly O’Keeffe’s ruling that Faulkner had provided obstruction for winger Semisi Masirewa defied every known law — except perhaps for the quantum mechanics law that an atom can be in two places at once. No, bad example. The only way Faulkner could have avoided a penalty under O’Keeffe’s logic was to dematerialise.

    Yet still the Force prevailed and the more the game unfolded, the more you realised how exceptionally well-coached this side is. Every player, be he a starter or finisher, played the same way, adhering to the game plan. They attacked the transition zone relentlessly and their physicality was, if not intimidating, at least highly unsettling.

    Adam Coleman surely must be the first player selected for the Wallabies this winter. It could be argued that no Australian controls a game quite like Bernard Foley or that no one has the work rate of Michael Hooper, but Coleman’s aggression is seriously scary. He hates losing and he’s indiscriminate about who he applies that trait to ... Jaguares, Pumas, All Blacks. He didn’t let up against the Jaguares and his aggression and physicality spread throughout the team.

    There was, as usual, no shortage of passion from the Argentinians but they looked uncomfortable when the Force returned it in kind. When outside centre Curtis Rona slung Test prop Ramiro Herrera to the ground and then was awarded a penalty because Herrera retaliated, it showed perfectly the absurdity of rugby laws sometimes — but also the effectiveness of the Force’s “take no prisoners approach”.

    The stunning victory has thrust the Force right into the mix for the Australian conference title and a home final but Wessels is content to leave those discussions to the media pundits. All that he is concerning himself with is making the Force as competitive as they can be in Super Rugby. In his mind, the permutations and combinations about who finishes where in the conference can safely be left to others.

    To hear him talk about his side and how he intends approaching the next 18 months is to be taken back in time to 2010, with Ewen McKenzie discussing the Reds — though without Wessels’ South African accent.

    There is no talk of wins and losses, only of performance and whether the Force have achieved the correct “trajectory” or are on the right “flight path”. McKenzie spoke precisely that way in 2010, the year before the Reds won their title.

    Technically, they play like Billy Meakes, their inside centre, times 15 ... neatly, precisely. Under Wessels and forwards coach Joe Barakat, they outscrummed arguably the greatest scrummaging nation of them all, and from there played simply but with purpose and pace.

    The Michael Foley legacy in this side is unmistakeable but Wessels has added another layer to it, a sense of soul, perhaps. The Force have taken over the old Brumbies’ role, where outcasts and rejects went to find a home. And flourished.

    It’s way too early to suggest Wessels could become a future Wallabies coach but, hell, where’s the fun of writing a rugby column if you cannot predict such things. The ARU and its chief operation’s officer, Rob Clarke, have come under fire lately but one thing they spectacularly got right was appointing Wessels as Force coach. The sceptics, myself among them, believed he had been chosen as a convenient and cheap last coach of the Force.

    He never saw himself in that light, however, and convinced his players to come with him on a wild and tumultuous ride."
    A fine article and right on the mark. Smith is rapidly becoming our greatest voice in the East. Not long now I feel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne "surprisingly, I'm growing to like him" Smith View Post
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/spor...44b-1494800776The stunning victory has thrust the Force right into the mix for the Australian conference title and a home final but Wessels is content to leave those discussions to the media pundits. All that he is concerning himself with is making the Force as competitive as they can be in Super Rugby. In his mind, the permutations and combinations about who finishes where in the conference can safely be left to others.
    Let's not get carried away, we still have two Kiwi teams to play and we don't meet the Brumbies. There's a lot of work ahead of us.

    Playing Reds Rebels and Tahs should make it achievable to hit second though!


    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne "surprisingly, I'm growing to like him" Smith View Post
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/spor...44b-1494800776To hear him talk about his side and how he intends approaching the next 18 months is to be taken back in time to 2010, with Ewen McKenzie discussing the Reds — though without Wessels’ South African accent.
    I think the real effect Dave has had is to get everybody bought into the vision. He's selected teams smartly, yes. He's put together clever game plans, yes. But in a team that has been crippled for years with players who don't follow coaching instructions, causing us to kick aimlessly and fall off simple tackles, Dave has turned the fringe players (like Verity-Amm, Newsome, Havili, Hardwick, Brache and a list of others) into players who genuinely look comfortable at this level, won't take a backward step and actually believe they're better than what is essentially the Argentine national side. (ps add Mitch Short to that list. he didn't even have a contract at the start of the year and I reckon he needs to stay)



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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne "surprisingly, I'm growing to like him" Smith View Post
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/spor...44b-1494800776It’s way too early to suggest Wessels could become a future Wallabies coach but, hell, where’s the fun of writing a rugby column if you cannot predict such things. The ARU and its chief operation’s officer, Rob Clarke, have come under fire lately but one thing they spectacularly got right was appointing Wessels as Force coach. The sceptics, myself among them, believed he had been chosen as a convenient and cheap last coach of the Force.
    I'll admit, apart from that "last coach" bit, I thought Dave's appointment was a cheap and lazy decision. It might have been exactly that, but in hindsight, I don't think I would have wanted anybody else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by General View Post
    A fine article and right on the mark. Smith is rapidly becoming our greatest voice in the East. Not long now I feel.
    As passionate as Alan Jones, but without the hint of self-interested dickhead?

    I know you can't say that, but I have nothing to do with RugbyWA apart from giving them money so I can watch their rugby team, so I can say what I want!

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Why do they keep referring to Dave's appointment as an ARU decision? Surely it was a RugbyWA decision that was simply endorsed by the ARU?

    It really bugs me that the ARU is being credited with the success for finding Dave when no-one blamed it for the total dud that was Richard Graham.

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    The best two rugby media articles I have read in years 👍👍👍

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    Quote Originally Posted by blueandblack View Post
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/spor...44b-1494800776

    "..But the real travesty was when referee Ben O’Keeffe disallowed a try to James Verity-Amm just after the break because of supposed interference by tighthead Tetera Faulkner. Really, what is it with New Zealand referees and Buenos Aires? Kiwis are not only the best players in Super Rugby but the best referees as well, but put them in front of a crowd of passionate Argentinians and their brain turns to mush.

    — but certainly O’Keeffe’s ruling that Faulkner had provided obstruction for winger Semisi Masirewa defied every known law — except perhaps for the quantum mechanics law that an atom can be in two places at once. No, bad example. The only way Faulkner could have avoided a penalty under O’Keeffe’s logic was to dematerialise.

    .."
    GOLD! Thanks Wayne

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Why do they keep referring to Dave's appointment as an ARU decision? Surely it was a RugbyWA decision that was simply endorsed by the ARU?

    It really bugs me that the ARU is being credited with the success for finding Dave when no-one blamed it for the total dud that was Richard Graham.
    "Despite the ARU having taken financial control of the club this year and the initial desire of some powerbrokers to appoint O’Connor, Force boss Mark Sinderberry is understood to have lobbied hard for the young coach."

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/spo...c86d81cb4551aa

    At the end of the day I think the one who should get the most credit for picking Dave is Mark Sinderberry, as he is the one that pushed hard for Dave to get the job

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    Let's not get carried away, we still have two Kiwi teams to play and we don't meet the Brumbies. There's a lot of work ahead of us.

    Playing Reds Rebels and Tahs should make it achievable to hit second though!
    Just checked the Brumbies' finish, they have the same road trip as us coming up (except they play the kings in SA) It would be reasonable to expect them to win both, but let's figure that they drop a game there and we pick up an upset against one of the Kiwi teams, both pretty long shots, but not impossible!

    After those two games we'd be 6 points behind them with us playing the Reds, Rebs and Tahs, the Brums will play Rebels, Reds and Chiefs. I think we can safely chalk the Chiefs game up as a loss for the Brums, and (all things being equal) I think we're both a good chance against the Reds and Rebels, so it will come down to the Tahs game, We need to win it to get 4 points up on them, but that isn't enough we need some bonus points as well!

    A win against the Highlanders, a Win against the Tahs, A 3 try bonus point somewhere and within 7 of the 'Canes? just to take it to differential?

    It's a really big ask, particularly when the Brums would need to lose to either the Kings or the Jags for that scenario to work.

    Of course if we beat both the Landers and the Canes, the maths becomes a lot easier!

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    Gigs the Kings are surely no walk over team specially in SA. The Brumbies can easily lose that game.

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    Had some time over the weekend to reconsider my stance on getting rid of a team.

    we should lose a team

    The Australian commentary team.

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    I STILL HAVE FAITH!!!

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