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Thread: Interesting theory.

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    Interesting theory.

    Dancing to the political beat

    By Wayne Smith
    April 05, 2008
    SO much for the theory that openside flankers never see the big picture because they always have their heads buried in rucks.
    New South Wales captain Phil Waugh demonstrated this week he is quite able to see beyond the white chalk. And what he sees is pretty ugly - a code so immersed in politics that the players have become almost peripheral to the main game.

    "At the moment, all the speculation about Ewen (McKenzie) and who's going to be the next coach is taking up all the space in the media," Waugh said.
    "We're all a bit sick of the speculation around the place. It's surprising how political it has become because it's coming from all angles at the moment."

    For what it's worth, Phil, most rugby writers are just as sick of having to devote their modest allocations of space to the politics of the game. This one is, anyhow.

    Who would know, for instance, that the Waratahs are playing the Blues tonight? By any measure, it's one of the match-ups of the season, but so heavy is the political atmosphere at the moment that any media discussion of Lote Tuqiri going up against Joe Rokocoko, Kurtley Beale matching wits with Nick Evans or Dan Vickerman exchanging pleasantries with Troy Flavell has been lost in the fog.

    Instead, the media focus has been on McKenzie going up against Blues coach David Nucifora. And not in the usual sense of their tactical contest, except in the off-field context that if the Blues spectacularly blow the Waratahs away, Nucifora might come dramatically into contention to replace McKenzie as NSW coach.

    Australian rugby, like Australia in general, is ridiculously overgoverned. All the states act as autonomous entities, each with their own boards. Throw in the Australian Rugby Union and that means there are nine boards involved in the administration of the game. And yet not only can this massive cohort of officials not get it right, they are getting it wrong on a scale that borders on the spectacular.

    At this point, let's bring the 500kg gorilla that's been hulking in the corner out of the shadows. The power in NSW rugby, which is the power in Australian rugby, is Sydney University club. Worryingly, its agenda is becoming Australian rugby's agenda.

    Now that's something of an accomplishment considering that from 1970 to 2000, Sydney Uni was almost an irrelevance, figuring in only a handful of grand finals, none of them the first-grade premiership decider.

    As a club, it was barely better than a rabble, unable to field teams at times and when it did get players on the park, they tended to be wearing an odd mish-mash of jerseys, shorts and socks.

    Small wonder there was desultory talk on almost a yearly basis about dumping the students from the competition.

    But then, to its credit, the club began to get its act together. It set up a foundation that generates a couple of million each year, it began seriously tapping into its alumni network.

    Most importantly, it began to offer such attractive packages - which is not necessarily to suggest monetary packages - that it began sucking players away from its rivals in such numbers that it has come to dominate the Sydney club competition. Indeed, it is now whispered that the main interest in the Sydney premiership is not in which club comes first (that's taken as a given) but which comes second.

    So far, all credit to Sydney Uni. But it's at this juncture that the conspiracy theories begin to kick in, as one Sydney University person after another begins to bob up in key positions of authority in Australian rugby. They're on the board of the ARU, they're in powerful full-time and honorary positions in affiliated unions, and their influence is being felt in every corner of the game.

    To be fair, there have been plenty of similar instances in the past, of one club dominating the Australian rugby landscape. Randwick springs to mind, although one is hesitant to talk of its influence in the past tense given the significant role it continues to play. There was a short period when all things Manly were fashionable, historically Easts were as powerful around the board table as they was on the playing field and even Brisbane's Brothers club has had its muscle-flexing moments.

    But this is different. It's one thing to be first among equals. It's entirely another to be first among intimidated survivors.

    Sad to say, but that is now the mindset gripping Sydney club officials, each of them wondering if their club will survive to take part in the Brave New World of self-interest that Sydney Uni is attempting to usher in. Having done its utmost to bring down the Australian Rugby Championship, and succeeding, it is positioning itself to run as a stand-alone entity in whatever tournament eventually replaces it.

    It would be taking the conspiracy theory way too far to say that all those officials with Sydney Uni backgrounds are actively aiding this process, just as it would be ridiculous to suggest the club has planted "sleepers" throughout the game in readiness for the day when they need to be activated.

    Nothing quite so sinister. Just lots of like-minded administrators getting elected or appointed because they had the numbers and then making vital decisions about the game's future that are coloured by common backgrounds.

    Still, there is a disturbing amount of benign passivity being displayed in high places at the moment.

    And when the day ultimately arrives when enough officials fearfully commit to the Sydney Uni vision in the fingers-crossed hope that their club will survive the cut, will the ARU meekly go along with "the will of the people"?


    http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,...-23217,00.html

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    Where did the newly announced CEO of RugbyWA come from?

    Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

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    Champion MI5_Dog's Avatar
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    my thoughts exactly Exile!

    He's done a good job at uni but will his loyalties now change to RugbyWA or stay with Uni?

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