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Thread: Teams are 'flouting' recruitment rules

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    Teams are 'flouting' recruitment rules

    Wayne Smith | May 29, 2009


    Article from: The Australian

    AUSTRALIAN Rugby Union protocols on third-party deals to recruit players are being widely flouted, according to the chief executives of the Western Force, Brumbies and Reds.

    The chief executive of Australia's fourth Super 14 team, NSW's Jim L'Estrange, dodged the question of whether contracting rules are being observed. "They're not being flouted at the Waratahs and I'll only comment on the Waratahs," L'Estrange told The Australian.

    However, he acknowledged that some of the recent offers made by rival teams to lure players away from the Waratahs included third-party offers - which of itself is a breach of the contracting protocols.

    Greg Harris, who stands down today as chief executive of the Perth-based Western Force, said Blind Freddie knew that teams were actively seeking third-party deals to attract players, in defiance of ARU rules that stipulated a player must be signed to a team before his agent was then permitted to seek private sponsorship on his behalf.

    Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan conceded that trust among the four unions had broken down.

    "I do think that over the course of the last three years there have been occasions when clubs have facilitated third-party deals," said Fagan, who raised the issue at a recent meeting of Super 14 chief executives with the ARU. "The sport cannot afford it. It can only be fixed if there is a real buy-in from the states that it's not in the best interests of the sport."

    Reds boss Ken Freer said he had no doubt the regulations requiring the provincial unions to stay at arm's length from any private top-ups were almost unenforceable.
    "I think everyone recognises you can drive holes through them," Freer said. "I have no doubt it goes on, which is pretty disappointing. And we (the Reds) have seen the impact of it. We haven't done that and haven't gone down that route. But can I put my hand over my heart and say others haven't done that? No."

    Freer was not critical of the ARU for failing to enforce its own regulations,
    acknowledging that it faced an almost impossible situation. "I have no doubt they ask the questions. But in order to prove it, you need video and tapes and that's very difficult to obtain."

    Indeed, even around-the-clock surveillance would be unlikely to detect breaches of the protocols because it is too easy for the teams to circumvent the rules. "Just say I've done a deal with a sponsor for $1 million," said Freer. "But I say to the sponsor, just give me $900,000 and then steer the other $100,000 to me whenever I need to recruit a particular player."

    The third-party issue has become the 500kg gorilla in the room, a presence every senior administrator in Australian rugby is aware of but no one wants to rile.

    The Reds, the bottom-placed Australian team for the past three years, believe their insistence on playing by the rules may have cost them the chance to recruit Rocky Elsom.

    According to QRU chairman Peter Lewis, the union was contacted by sponsors prepared to put up third-party money to help the Reds lure the Wallabies flanker to Ballymore but, rather than package those offers up into one tidy deal, it advised Elsom that nothing could be finalised until he had signed with Queensland.

    Even then, technically speaking, Elsom - who does not have an agent - would have had to do the rounds of the backers himself to lock in the third-party contracts.

    It's debatable whether this was what really scared Elsom away. Rather, the 40-Test veteran made it clear to the Reds he wanted to join a strong team, not a developing one. Still, it's hardly likely these unwieldy financial arrangement would have attracted him.

    The Force is the only Australian team to have been penalised for breaching the protocols, with Rugby WA fined $150,000 in 2007 for deals done while Peter O'Meara was chief executive. But Harris sympathises with the difficulties his predecessor faced, arguing O'Meara would not have been able to lure players from the east coast to Perth without stepping outside the guidelines to provide them with "extras".

    Those dodgy practices have come back to haunt the Force, with east coast unions - the Reds in particular, since the bulk of the players lured west were Queenslanders - now unwilling to cut the Perth club any slack to help it offset the difficulties raised by its geographical isolation.

    Harris admitted the fact the Force was not permitted to offer Wallabies prop Matt Dunning any monetary incentive to uproot his family from Sydney and relocate in Western Austrlia was making it extremely difficult to entice him away from the Waratahs.

    "The best thing for Dunning and for Australian rugby would be if he came to the Force. But why would a married player with children and no overheads in Sydney come to Perth where he would have to meet all the costs of setting himself up because we're not allowed to make him an extra offer?" Harris asked.

    "I think the West (Rugby WA) has done a fantastic job. When you consider the resources the AFL is pouring into western Sydney and the Gold Coast to get them ready to host AFL teams and then you take into account the ARU (under then chief executive Gary Flowers) provided Perth with no seed resources at all, the previous Force administration had very little option but to engage in third-party deals to become competitive.

    "There is too much of a provincial mentality prevailing on the east coast. If we want to embrace a national perspective, we have to overcome that narrow-minded outlook."



    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au...-32102,00.html

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    The best thing for Dunning would be to stay exactly where he is!

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    Gee, the protocols are being flouted - there is some breaking news then! Giteau's contract openly demonstrated that the protocols aren't being enforced, but the ARU seems curiously disinterested...

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    The chief executive of Australia's fourth Super 14 team, NSW's Jim L'Estrange,

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    Posted via space



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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyS View Post
    Giteau's contract openly demonstrated that the protocols aren't being enforced,
    Which one?

    Hope Fagan has better luck with third parties than O'Meara. If he doesn't there's always a bed in Cottesloe.

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    Exclamation Third-party deals undermine trust

    Wayne Smith, Rugby union editor | May 30, 2009

    The Australian


    IT'S like this. Either everyone is lying or some are lying and some are telling the truth or everyone is telling the truth but believes everyone else is lying.

    That's the sad state of affairs Australia's four Super 14 franchises have arrived at as far as third-party deals are concerned. No one is certain anyone else is playing by the rules, that's if they're playing by them themselves. Apply that mindset to society in general and pretty soon you have anarchy. Which is where Australian rugby contracting is heading unless something is done to restore trust in each other and faith in the system.

    As it is, not a single significant player move from one province to another happens without eyebrows being raised and accusing fingers pointed. Always the suspicion is that the clincher was third-party money and that the union luring the player away has facilitated the deal with private sponsors, in breach of the ARU's contracting protocols.

    Yet how much of this is the unions jumping at shadows? How much is it a case of underperforming, unhappy teams hiding their own inability to keep their team intact behind the convenient excuse that the players must have left because of dodgy deals that contravened the protocols?

    Where all this will end is difficult to predict. Where it all began, however, is another matter. It was the Western Force that let the genie out of the bottle in its desperate attempt to pull together a competitive squad right from the start.

    The previous ARU administration of Gary Flowers regularly cops the blame at this point for not providing the Perth franchise with any seed capital and, in hindsight, it's a fair cop. But in its bid documents, Rugby WA never asked for any special help and indeed stipulated it could stand on its own two feet from day one.

    As it happened, it couldn't. First season, 2006, it finished last, and that's when the dodgy deals really exploded. Even though the Firepower fiasco has been put behind it, the aftershocks of that ill-advised adventure still reverberate through the club. No other Australian franchise remains as dependent on third-party support to recruit and retain players.

    From a Force perspective, the next question to arise is why the ARU doesn't cut it some slack and apportion it a slightly larger cut of the pie to offset its inherent geographical difficulties in attracting east coast players. But that doesn't cut it with the other unions, all of whom have their own unique recruiting problems: The Reds can't extricate themselves from the bottom of the Super rugby table, the Brumbies went and based themselves in Canberra where it is bloody freezing and as for the Waratahs, well, everyone knows they're just a nest of vipers so who'd want to play there?

    From everyone else's perspective, there is a broader question being asked about the Force's finances. If the club is heading towards a loss of $1.5 million to $2 million, would not the $400,000 its backers are putting up to keep the team strong be better allocated going into consolidated revenue rather than into the pockets of players who, on a per game basis, are already better paid than comparable AFL and NRL footballers?

    It's not that simple, of course. Some sponsors are interested only in assisting specific players they believe might gel with their corporate image and aren't interested in becoming a lesser light supporter of the club. So it's not strictly a straight choice between the money going to the player or the club. Besides, if the Force has a winning season at its new Members Equity ground next year, then the money spent on the players indirectly will bolster the Force coffers anyway.

    But having ventured down this path, let's explore where it might lead. What would happen if the ARU completely banned third-party deals, thereby removing the cause of so much suspicion and unrest?

    The knee-jerk response is that there would be an exodus of players overseas. But would there be?

    Every agent knows the value of spruiking "huge overseas offers" to drive up the value of their client but the reality is that the demand from Europe and Japan is not nearly as great as the myth-makers would have us believe.

    Certainly there will always be "write your own numbers" contracts awaiting the likes of Matt Giteau, George Smith and lately Rocky Elsom but for Wallabies of the mere mortal variety, the dollar difference between what they can earn in Europe and their present Australian salary usually isn't worth sacrificing the gold jersey for.

    Aside from Elsom, who was granted an exemption to play in Ireland because of private circumstances, the only fully functioning Wallabies who have headed overseas in recent years have been Dan Vickerman, who always had a hankering to go to Cambridge, 32-year-old Chris Latham, 29-year-old David Lyons and Rodney Blake who, for whatever reason, couldn't attract a half-decent offer in Australia.

    So for the most part then, the ARU has sealed off the overseas option for all but the golden handshake brigade like George Gregan and Steve Larkham.

    No, where third-party deals have really had an impact has been on the domestic front, being used to lure players from one franchise to another.

    What benefit has that bestowed on Australian rugby? None where the Reds are concerned. Indeed, it plunged them into a double jeopardy situation. Not only did they have the heart of their side ripped out by the Force, but that then tipped them into a slide they still have not reversed. So that even when their third-party supporters step forward to try to lure back the lost sheep - as in the cases of Richard Brown and Drew Mitchell - potential recruits simply don't want to associate themselves with losers.

    Ironically, it has undermined the Force as well, corrupting the club's culture right from the start and leaving it, even now, hooked on the drug of third-party payments. As for the Waratahs and Brumbies, which at the very least have strayed at times into the protocol grey areas, they now find themselves operating in an environment where wage demands now exceed their annual ARU allocation of $4.3 million.

    Some states now are arguing they should be allowed total discretion in how they spend this money, free of ARU involvement. Maybe, but their track record with third-party deals has not been good and chances are that their desperate desire to retain their stars would see a handful of players lavishly rewarded while the bulk of their teammates played for a pittance.

    Would centralised ARU control be the answer then? Possibly. After all, it now controls the levels of contract top-ups for between 45-55 players a year, so it is already partially there.

    A fixed economy presumably would lead to four Australian teams of equal standard. But is that what the ARU wants, for the Waratahs, Brumbies, Force and Reds all to finish in a mediocre band from 5th to 10th on the Super 14 ladder each year? Or should the free market rule to allow one super team - like the Brumbies next year - to rear up at the expense of all the rest?

    Alternatively, the four franchises could go back to scratch and start trusting each other once again, at which point the third-party protocols just might work.


    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au...015703,00.html

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    All four teams list their sponsors on their websites.

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    I really would like to know how the Force are the cause of the demise of the Reds.

    After reaching the semis in 2001 the Reds seasons look like this.

    2002 - 5th/12
    2003 - 8th/12
    2004 - 10th/12
    2005 - 10th/12 then the Force came into being

    2006 - 12th/14
    2007 - 14th/14
    2008 - 11th/14
    2009 - 13th/14

    The were in demise for 3 years before the Force came into being and since then have never lifted their game.

    Looks like a Reds problem not a Force one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by travelling_gerry View Post
    I really would like to know how the Force are the cause of the demise of the Reds.

    After reaching the semis in 2001 the Reds seasons look like this.

    2002 - 5th/12
    2003 - 8th/12
    2004 - 10th/12
    2005 - 10th/12 then the Force came into being

    2006 - 12th/14
    2007 - 14th/14
    2008 - 11th/14
    2009 - 13th/14

    The were in demise for 3 years before the Force came into being and since then have never lifted their game.

    Looks like a Reds problem not a Force one.
    give me a break, QLD did have there own problems at the time and RUGBYWA magnified this by signing not only established Reds players(Sharpe, Tai, Junior, Drew) but the future generation as well(Ioane, Pocock, Brown, O'Connor etc)


    Regardless, thats all in the past anyway, i think its bullshit that some teams play by the rules and some arent which is creating a uneven playing field in recruitment and retention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOCC View Post
    give me a break, QLD did have there own problems at the time and RUGBYWA magnified this by signing not only established Reds players(Sharpe, Tai, Junior, Drew) but the future generation as well(Ioane, Pocock, Brown, O'Connor etc)


    Regardless, thats all in the past anyway, i think its bullshit that some teams play by the rules and some arent which is creating a uneven playing field in recruitment and retention.
    Good point and the Force admin have the face to cry about it... and call for equity... Doesn't sound to me like new CEO Vern Reid knows who their making offers to or not (AKA 1 Digby).... Didn't departing CEO Harris do a hand over or was Vern daydreaming about be the man at the time...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mudskipper View Post
    Good point and the Force admin have the face to cry about it... and call for equity... Doesn't sound to me like new CEO Vern Reid knows who their making offers to or not (AKA 1 Digby).... Didn't departing CEO Harris do a hand over or was Vern daydreaming about be the man at the time...
    And I don't know how you have the face to say you wish Rugby in WA well, at times. From your posts since you appeared here it seems more likely that you are a narrow minded spiteful troll. The establishment of a fourth franchise was universally accepted as a must if Australian Rugby was top develop enough depth to challenge NZ & ZA. That is starting to bear fruit. The mistake was not facilitating an orderly recruitment program so as to get the desired result without upsetting the status quo too much.

    Living in the past is for losers. You are welcome to it. Unfortunately the track record of Rugby politics in Australia demonstrates that there are some like minded people in positions of power. I just hope that there enough people of vision around to outmanouver them and move the game forward to a competitive future.

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    The Force worked with what was available to them, broke retrospectively applied protocols, were held accountable, and paid the penalty.

    Whilst I don;t think there has been any official (or unofficial) complaint from Western Force, the iniquities which some supporters are calling out lies in other franchises not being investigated and not being held accoutable.

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    The truth is the Force CEO got away with most of the shadow deals but still got caught out...

    And the Force continue to do so... perhaps others are but the Force created an environment of delusion…

    Its important the Force survives… That's why I think the province needs a new coach to bring credibility back to the province and sign good new players… All the past shadow deals and dealmakers at nearly all moved on…

    However I can understand the Force couldn’t afford to pay him out because someone did a ridiculous deal… Players should have been lined up six months ago, perhaps even last year…

    But the past blaming of players for issues is not addressing the real problems the province faces… TWF is a good place to have these conversations I would think...

    Giteau can no longer be the Forces straw-man he's moved on so who will we be blaming next season?

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    and where does this "truth" you declare come from? The same place that has reported that the Brumbies are currently being be investigated for recruitment protocol breaches in their negotiations dealings with Valentine and look like being heavily fined?

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