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Thread: Rugby Australia board finally finds a voice and shows some backbone

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    Rugby Australia board finally finds a voice and shows some backbone

    Rugby Australia board finally finds a voice and shows some backbone

    WAYNE SMITH
    8:17PM MAY 8, 2020

    It was the man who unified Germany — with all the ramifications that flowed from that — who came up with the line that “politics is the art of the possible”.

    But even someone as iron-willed as Otto von Bismarck would surely have conceded that politics is also the art of making things impossible for those trying to govern.

    Rugby Australia is awash with politics. The organisation is drowning in it. It is one of the things that Rob Penney, a Kiwi, has most strongly noted about the sport in this country since coming to Australia to coach the Waratahs. “I’m not a political person,” Penney told me from his home in Christchurch, where he is sitting out the COVID-19 lockdown with his family. “But I just find it a shame that there is such a depth of rugby intellect in Australia and it just keeps ripping each other apart. Wouldn’t it be awesome if all of that ability was all pulling in the same direction?”

    Awesome. And utterly unlikely. Virtually nothing that has happened in Australian rugby over the past six or seven weeks has happened by chance. The letter of protest from the 10 Wallabies captains, the “impromptu” meeting of RA director Peter Wiggs with Australian skippers Nick Farr-Jones and Phil Kearns, the temporary (though very fleeting) elevation of Wiggs to the chairman’s role … all part of a co-ordinated plan. How do we know that? A little deductive reasoning based on Farr-Jones’ comments in the piece by Jessica Halloran in The Australian on Thursday. Buried away in the midst of Farr-Jones’ reasonable and measured comments was this line, referring to Wiggs’s remarks while in the chair at the RA board meeting on Monday night. In effectively his first address, Wiggs stated his demands: close friend Matt Carroll, CEO of the Australian Olympic Committee, to immediately be made chief executive and a place on the board for Carroll’s old boss, John O’Neill.

    “This is not a criticism of Peter, but he went off-piste, and that was disappointing. I thought we had a process,” Farr-Jones was quoted as saying. “I thought we had a process ...”

    So there was, in fact, a “process” which, in the manner of some people’s “freedom fighter’ being another man’s “guerrilla”, may be interpreted as “a coup”.

    It was the fourth significant slip-up by those plotting the downfall of former CEO Raelene Castle and the RA board. The first was in telegraphing the likelihood of Sydney University mentor David Mortimer, 74, coming onto the board as likely chairman. That story was certainly doing the rounds as early as mid-February and it gave Mortimer’s rivals time to manoeuvre against him, citing his age as a problem given the number of World Rugby meetings he would have to attend in Dublin.

    The second was allowing Kearns to sign the captains’ protest letter. Given that a not-unexpected outcome was that Castle might have been forced out one way or the other, the smart move would have been to keep Kearns completely out of the process. That way he would have remained blameless, bearing no part in her downfall. Sadly — because he still has much to offer as a potential CEO — his name has now scarcely been mentioned as her potential permanent successor, a job for which he had seemed a certainty just a month ago.

    The third was having the 10 dissident captains recommend, as their core suggestion to improve Rugby Australia, the formation of a board of 13. So, let’s get this straight … the solution to all of rugby’s troubles that are created by the RA board is to set up an even bigger board. Really?

    And now, the fourth mistake … here was Wiggs going for a run very much outside the designated slope. Telegraphing his management team was way too confronting for the board that, as it happens, was meeting by Zoom to avoid any social-distancing issues. And as far as they were concerned, Wiggs, as chairman, could not be relied on to keep enough governance distance between himself and his designated CEO, Carroll.

    It all got messy from there, what with threats of resignation, actual resignation, leaked emails and the weaponising of a $7m currency hedging “debt” which hadn’t actually crystallised at this point.

    All of the “freedom fighters” involved in this “process” were, wholly and solely, from NSW, Sydney to be precise.

    And just to emphasise the widening divide in Australian rugby, all of the states, bar one, were signatories to a communique expressing support for the job that the RA board, under acting chairman Paul McLean, was doing. Someone was clearly out of step and as far as NSWRU chairman Roger Davis was concerned, it was the rest of Australia.

    For months now, it has been all but impossible for Australian rugby and Rugby Australia to act, so paralysed has it been because of the politics. In a way, it was hardly surprising that the “freedom fighters” felt so emboldened as to lay their plans out in full sight, even if that wasn’t approved in the “process”. What could the RA board possibly do to stop them?

    Well, as it turns out, the board showed the backbone its critics have long despaired of ever seeing.

    Except that when they finally did show it, it stopped the “freedom fighters” in their tracks. It’s not a perfect solution, by any means, but it may be a workable one.

    RA now has an interim CEO in Rob Clarke, although Carroll continues to have significant support for the permanent position, and it is soon also to have an interim chair, if all the speculation around REA boss Hamish McLennan pans out.

    After all of this, the silent majority of Australian rugby finally found its voice.

    It has “had it”, in spades, with all the politicking. It has had it with rugby being torn apart by glorified “dick-swinging” competitions, its once proud position in the Australian sporting firmament now reduced to court jester.

    Most of all it is fed up that RA has never been allowed to govern. If Monday night’s meeting is any indicator, there may actually be some spine in this RA board, after all.

    WAYNE SMITH SENIOR SPORT WRITER

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...d0ad55278fb1d2

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    All of which only really demonstrates the vanishingly small chance that there will be any meaningful reform without a total circuit break...

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    Well, it also clearly demonstrates which side of the divide falls Wayne smith

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    C'mon the

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ham105 View Post
    Rugby Australia board finally finds a voice and shows some backbone

    WAYNE SMITH
    8:17PM MAY 8, 2020

    It was the man who unified Germany — with all the ramifications that flowed from that — who came up with the line that “politics is the art of the possible”.

    But even someone as iron-willed as Otto von Bismarck would surely have conceded that politics is also the art of making things impossible for those trying to govern.

    Rugby Australia is awash with politics. The organisation is drowning in it. It is one of the things that Rob Penney, a Kiwi, has most strongly noted about the sport in this country since coming to Australia to coach the Waratahs. “I’m not a political person,” Penney told me from his home in Christchurch, where he is sitting out the COVID-19 lockdown with his family. “But I just find it a shame that there is such a depth of rugby intellect in Australia and it just keeps ripping each other apart. Wouldn’t it be awesome if all of that ability was all pulling in the same direction?”

    Awesome. And utterly unlikely. Virtually nothing that has happened in Australian rugby over the past six or seven weeks has happened by chance. The letter of protest from the 10 Wallabies captains, the “impromptu” meeting of RA director Peter Wiggs with Australian skippers Nick Farr-Jones and Phil Kearns, the temporary (though very fleeting) elevation of Wiggs to the chairman’s role … all part of a co-ordinated plan. How do we know that? A little deductive reasoning based on Farr-Jones’ comments in the piece by Jessica Halloran in The Australian on Thursday. Buried away in the midst of Farr-Jones’ reasonable and measured comments was this line, referring to Wiggs’s remarks while in the chair at the RA board meeting on Monday night. In effectively his first address, Wiggs stated his demands: close friend Matt Carroll, CEO of the Australian Olympic Committee, to immediately be made chief executive and a place on the board for Carroll’s old boss, John O’Neill.

    “This is not a criticism of Peter, but he went off-piste, and that was disappointing. I thought we had a process,” Farr-Jones was quoted as saying. “I thought we had a process ...”

    So there was, in fact, a “process” which, in the manner of some people’s “freedom fighter’ being another man’s “guerrilla”, may be interpreted as “a coup”.

    It was the fourth significant slip-up by those plotting the downfall of former CEO Raelene Castle and the RA board. The first was in telegraphing the likelihood of Sydney University mentor David Mortimer, 74, coming onto the board as likely chairman. That story was certainly doing the rounds as early as mid-February and it gave Mortimer’s rivals time to manoeuvre against him, citing his age as a problem given the number of World Rugby meetings he would have to attend in Dublin.

    The second was allowing Kearns to sign the captains’ protest letter. Given that a not-unexpected outcome was that Castle might have been forced out one way or the other, the smart move would have been to keep Kearns completely out of the process. That way he would have remained blameless, bearing no part in her downfall. Sadly — because he still has much to offer as a potential CEO — his name has now scarcely been mentioned as her potential permanent successor, a job for which he had seemed a certainty just a month ago.

    The third was having the 10 dissident captains recommend, as their core suggestion to improve Rugby Australia, the formation of a board of 13. So, let’s get this straight … the solution to all of rugby’s troubles that are created by the RA board is to set up an even bigger board. Really?

    And now, the fourth mistake … here was Wiggs going for a run very much outside the designated slope. Telegraphing his management team was way too confronting for the board that, as it happens, was meeting by Zoom to avoid any social-distancing issues. And as far as they were concerned, Wiggs, as chairman, could not be relied on to keep enough governance distance between himself and his designated CEO, Carroll.

    It all got messy from there, what with threats of resignation, actual resignation, leaked emails and the weaponising of a $7m currency hedging “debt” which hadn’t actually crystallised at this point.

    All of the “freedom fighters” involved in this “process” were, wholly and solely, from NSW, Sydney to be precise.

    And just to emphasise the widening divide in Australian rugby, all of the states, bar one, were signatories to a communique expressing support for the job that the RA board, under acting chairman Paul McLean, was doing. Someone was clearly out of step and as far as NSWRU chairman Roger Davis was concerned, it was the rest of Australia.

    For months now, it has been all but impossible for Australian rugby and Rugby Australia to act, so paralysed has it been because of the politics. In a way, it was hardly surprising that the “freedom fighters” felt so emboldened as to lay their plans out in full sight, even if that wasn’t approved in the “process”. What could the RA board possibly do to stop them?

    Well, as it turns out, the board showed the backbone its critics have long despaired of ever seeing.

    Except that when they finally did show it, it stopped the “freedom fighters” in their tracks. It’s not a perfect solution, by any means, but it may be a workable one.

    RA now has an interim CEO in Rob Clarke, although Carroll continues to have significant support for the permanent position, and it is soon also to have an interim chair, if all the speculation around REA boss Hamish McLennan pans out.

    After all of this, the silent majority of Australian rugby finally found its voice.

    It has “had it”, in spades, with all the politicking. It has had it with rugby being torn apart by glorified “dick-swinging” competitions, its once proud position in the Australian sporting firmament now reduced to court jester.

    Most of all it is fed up that RA has never been allowed to govern. If Monday night’s meeting is any indicator, there may actually be some spine in this RA board, after all.

    WAYNE SMITH SENIOR SPORT WRITER

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...d0ad55278fb1d2
    Wiggs spent his own money getting his own staff to check the books and after what was found decided to pull the pin as he realised RA could not continue to operate legally

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    Veteran valzc's Avatar
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    He must’ve got a real shock at how bad the books are, and hightailed it out of there as fast as poss. Wayne Smith appears to now show where his loyalties really lie.

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    Clarke was just on MMM Sydney and claims that all the stuff about broadcast agreements that is in public domain is rubbish and he is going to sort it out as priority 1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The InnFORCEr View Post
    Clarke was just on MMM Sydney and claims that all the stuff about broadcast agreements that is in public domain is rubbish and he is going to sort it out as priority 1.
    Priority 1? No shit Sherlock ��*♀️

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    His attitude was a disgrace, almost laughing his way through the interview.

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    Clarke cannot be trusted. Came to Perth to give us "24hrs" said same had been given to Victoria, wouldn't answer questions on how our "confidential" agreement with ARU got to Victoria etc etc.

    Sadly RA is not hurting enough....Wiggs and Carroll would have brought some management, experience and credibility to RA... This is the time to dispense with process and do whatever is necessary to revive the sport. The current board has just taken RA off Life Support and placed it in Palliative care.

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    Worst thing is; I was just about to the point of putting the disappointment behind me, and just looking forward to GRR. Then they went and appointed that bloody snake and I'm feeling just as angry as ever. Bastards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hansie View Post
    Clarke cannot be trusted. Came to Perth to give us "24hrs" said same had been given to Victoria, wouldn't answer questions on how our "confidential" agreement with ARU got to Victoria etc etc.

    Sadly RA is not hurting enough....Wiggs and Carroll would have brought some management, experience and credibility to RA... This is the time to dispense with process and do whatever is necessary to revive the sport. The current board has just taken RA off Life Support and placed it in Palliative care.
    I dusted off my submission to the Senate Inquiry today. Reminded myself of the full horrors of Clarke’s involvement in Australian Rugby. The fact that he has managed to slither his way back in is such bad, bad news.

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    Now that Clarke’s involved again, I couldn’t care less if the Force decide to not play. I would rather just wait until GRR gets back up again. Would even prefer the scratch matches like the one with Eastwood or Shite Shield teams, rather than give Clarke the chance to squeeze money out of WA. Or maybe only agree to get involved on condition the IP gets given back if they’re serious about making amends. Without the Force or Sunwolves, RA wouldn’t have much of a comp to get any revenue would they?

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