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Thread: Wayne Smith calls out the RA and the Rebels

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    Wayne Smith calls out the RA and the Rebels

    Time for rugby to stem the bleeding from a thousand tiny cutsWAYNE SMITH
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    55 MINUTES AGO JUNE 1, 2019
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    Whenever the big issues come along ó as in Israel Folau ó Rugby Australia tends to play them with the straightest of bats, its inflexibility in imposing its rules often costing it public sympathy and support.

    Itís the more mundane issues where it gets clouded with Rugby Australia, the lack of transparency, the special dispensations, the turning of a blind eye where itís convenient, the general looseness of policy, the wastefulness. When Rugby Australia pauses to reflect on why it is not winning the hearts and minds of ordinary Australians, perhaps it needs to consider the little issues along with the big.

    For starters, letís examine the report that Will Skelton wonít be headed home until the end of the 2021 season but will still be made eligible to play for Australia at this yearís World Cup in September-October. If this were true, it would be Ö. how shall I say this?Ö.wrong, wrong, wrong in every respect. Shamefully wrong. Skelton wants to have his cake and eat it too, taking a place in Australiaís 2019 World Cup squad ó at whose expense, incidentally ó but then not returning home for another two years, during which time he will make a small fortune playing two more seasons with Saracens.

    Seriously, is that where the game is headed in Australia? If the Giteau Law is going to be administered in that fashion, then throw it out. If Rugby Australia intends to make a mockery of the very law it put in place to protect the standard of rugby in this country, then letís be done with it entirely.

    Select players based in Britain, Europe and Japan. Make it open slather. The upside is that we will get to watch the best Australian players performing for the Wallabies, no questions asked. Of course, the downside will be that almost none of those players wearing gold will be based in Australia. Why play in Super Rugby for $200,000 a year when $400,000 a year or more is available in the English Premiership or Pro14 or the French Top 14?

    To be scrupulously fair, Rugby Australia is insisting that it has had no contact with Skelton or his manager, that it knows nothing about these press reports and that it is not bending any rules for him or anyone else.

    Thatís not entirely true, of course.

    Matt Toomua played nine Tests in The Rugby Championship and on the spring tour last year yet didnít return from the Leicester Tigers to play for the Rebels until mid-May. He made his starting debut last night for Melbourne against the Waratahs, in the third-last regular fixture of the season. Yet my understanding was that exemptions were granted only to players who would be playing the entire domestic season the following year.

    One final thought on the Giteau Law. In my opinion, it actually is working. A domestic-based Wallabies is still an extremely formidable side. Ask yourself this: which overseas-based players who fail to reach the 60-Test threshold for automatic selection could possibly strengthen it? Skelton? Nic White? Toomua?

    All excellent players, for sure. But consider this: all three left for overseas because they couldnít command a regular Wallabies Test spot. They have been playing in a competition that certainly is physically tough and demanding but how would the leading sides in the Premiership perform against the Super Rugby leaders?

    Consider this as well: for those players to be selected in the 31-man World Cup squad, they must take the place of some other players whose form has been on display week in, week out while they have played for their Australian franchises. So are Australians prepared to drop Rory Arnold or Rob Simmons for Skelton? Tate McDermott or Jake Gordon for White? Quade Cooper or Christian Lealiifano for Toomua? We will learn a lot about the character and standards of Australian rugby when the World Cup squad is announced on August 23.

    This episode also shines a light on the influence of player agents.

    By and large, they are acting honourably but a handful of agents most assuredly are not. They are acting for themselves, sending players interstate or overseas, wherever they can get the most money.

    They are giving no consideration to how that move will impact their clientsí careers nor what damage they are doing to Australian rugby.

    It irks me, this constant and slavish mimicking by Australia of everything they do in New Zealand rugby.

    But the Kiwis do seem to have sorted out this problem and only do business with agents who operate in the best interests of both the player and the game.

    Rumour has it that Scott Johnson, Rugby Australiaís director of rugby, is working on this issue. Certainly it is one entirely worthy of his time.

    And when will Rugby Australia address the question of the salary cap? Rightly or wrongly, everyone assumes it is being rorted, that Melbourne are being given an unfair advantage. Rugby Australia were so desperate, so the story goes, to make sure Melbourne didnít fall over after they were spared ahead of the Western Force that it granted the Rebels all manner of gifts, most notably a star-studded side. Indeed, some say Rugby Australia actually created the problem itself by notifying everyone during that turbulent 2017 that the salary cap would remain in play, and then abandoning it when the Force were culled.

    Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson absolutely rejects the thesis that Melbourne have been done any favours and insists his books are there to be seen. And, of course, they are investigated, by Rugby Australia itself. The problem is that if anyone is caught deliberately breaking the salary cap, the fine is $250,000 ó and that would be enough to send just about every Australian franchise to the wall. Itís a toothless tiger, as a result.

    So, letís have a one-time only amnesty and send in some independent investigators to clear up the matter once and for all. And then letís keep the independent auditors on a permanent basis.

    Now, more than ever, the game must become utterly transparent. Surely Rugby Australia realises by now it is under the most intense scrutiny ever applied to an Australian sporting organisation. The big things will play out regardless. But it could be the small things that prove fatal.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Yeah great article. But the ship is already almost on the bottom.

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    Player lou's Avatar
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    Is it possible that Wayne Smith has had a falling out with Rebels management?

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    If he hadn't before, he surely has now.

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    What an independent review into the ARU and the Rebels. How dare he!

    How far Australian Rugby has fallen. The public donít trust the Administration that is supposed to grow and develop the game. Is it time to finally rip the bandaid off. That would require senior leaders on the board to realise what us average joes think and actually self reflect and self sacrifice themselves for the good of the game. Instead they drag it out entrench themselves and make the whole situation worse. What is it going to take, if this was the board of any business the shareholders would have booted them long ago as underperforming not given them selves a pass mark. Even if the Wallabies fail miserably at the World Cup I do not think it will be enough they will just blame the coach and new director of rugby. Not that they are blameless either!

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    Generally speaking you arenít learning much if your lips are moving!!!

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    Western Force open to invitation into restructured Super Rugby
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...uBPE__Yf2qpgao

    Well Wayne has certainly been busy..I'm sure John Edwards comments would go down like a lead balloon in Melbourne

    The Western Force would welcome an invitation back into Super Rugby but would demand changes if the opportunity arose, insisting that every Australian side be required to re-bid for their position, Rugby WA chairman John Edwards said yesterday.

    Edwards admitted it was an entirely hypothetical situation at the moment, with Rugby Australia showing no signs of changing with the make-up of Super Rugby nor its participants. Nor is Rugby WA turning its back on Andrew Forrest’s Global Rapid Rugby competition that is intended to kick off as a formal structure next year.

    Still, the economic climate around Australian rugby makes it conceivable even something as radical as the recall of the Forrest-backed Force, culled by the ARU in 2017, could become thinkable.

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    “If there was an opportunity we would look at it,” Edwards told The Australian. “I’ve said that to Rugby Australia CEO Raelene (Castle) right from the first day I met her, when we had freshly been turfed out. But as I look at it now, things would have to change.

    “It wouldn’t be someone goes out, we come in and off we go to the races. Because the fundamentals of the tournament are a basket case. There is not enough distribution from SANZAAR down to Super Rugby via the national bodies. The laws need to be looked at, like we are looking at them, to make the game more attractive.

    “We would entertain the idea but it would be conditional on things changing … the way they administer the game, who is in the competition. All this ridiculous travel, the Argentine story and how the financial model was put together, because they’re all bankrupt. Every one of them is teetering and it shouldn’t be that way.”

    It will be Edwards’ proposal all local franchises be forced to re-bid for their spot in Super Rugby that will shake Australian rugby. Indications are, as he said, that every Australian franchise is “teetering”. Last week, the Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson told The Australian Melbourne are struggling financially so much they could be embarrassed if they win the Australian conference and are forced to pay the $75,000 guarantee to the team they play in the quarter-finals.

    “If I am putting my own balance sheet at risk with a Rebels or a Brumbies, I want to know that they’re sustainable. I wouldn’t want to have their CEO say, ‘Yeah, we’re OK, we’re talking to sponsors’. I would want to know what do you have locked down, how is it going to work, what do your match-day numbers look like, what are your estimated crowds because this isn’t a charity. This is supposed to be a commercial arrangement — and it isn’t.”

    Edwards said Super Rugby in its present configuration was a doomed venture, despite Australia and SANZAAR having effectively committed to persevering it for the new broadcast deal which begins in 2021 — minus the Sunwolves. With the Japanese team removed, the competition will revert to 14 teams which makes possible a round-robin competition, with the complicated conference system being abandoned.

    Edwards said the provincial competition has to evolve without South Africa. “Something with Kiwis, Aussies and Pacific Island sides and then you try to develop some Asian nations in a second tier competition with a promotion-relegation program,” he said.

    “And then you’ve got what they have got in the UK, which is a successful model. People have to be more attached to the teams. Now, it’s easy for us to say that because we’ve got one city and it’s Perth but when you have a state team, like NSW, clubland doesn’t feel attached to that in any way.”

    Importantly too, he said, the Super Rugby competition also needs its own distinct administrative structure. At present, SANZAAR runs The Rugby Championship at Test level, which is the main money-maker, while also looking after Super Rugby.

    “There is no governing body that is responsible for its own P&L,” Edwards said.

    “The unions themselves decide how much they want to keep for themselves and how much they want to distribute to Super Rugby. There are no hard and fast rules.”

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Speaking of transparency in attendances, a few from the austadiums site for the weekend...

    21,645 31/05/2019 NRL: Eels v Rabbitohs
    53,195 2/06/2019 AFL: West Coast Eagles v Western Bulldogs
    11,226 2/06/2019 NRL: Titans v Cowboys
    9,412 2/06/2019 AFL: St Kilda v Port Adelaide
    7,213 1/06/2019 NRL: Bulldogs v Raiders
    10,634 1/06/2019 AFL: Melbourne v Adelaide Crows
    7,581 1/06/2019 AFL: GWS Giants v Gold Coast Suns
    7,981 30/05/2019 NRL: Panthers v Sea Eagles
    12,473 31/05/2019 GRR: Western Force v Kagifa Samoa
    8,756 1/06/2019 Super Rugby: Reds v Jaguares

    And in looking a little further into attendance numbers, all Australian SR teams have plenty of TBA's. Rabble have proved to be dodgy as usual as well as dumb enough to think TBA fools anyone, by only publishing 1 attendance all year.

    01/06/19 Super Rugby: Jaguares d Reds 8,756 Suncorp Stadium
    31/05/19 Super Rugby: Waratahs d Rebels TBA AAMI Park
    25/05/19 Super Rugby: Jaguares d Waratahs 13,885 Bankwest Stadium
    24/05/19 Super Rugby: Brumbies d Bulls 6,311 GIO Stadium
    18/05/19 Super Rugby: Waratahs d Reds 12,236 Suncorp Stadium
    17/05/19 Super Rugby: Bulls d Rebels TBA AAMI Park

    If you look at the season figures TBA has been published 12 times out of 29 matches played in Australia this year. Transparency Central aka Rugby Australia is the laughing stock of sport in Australia.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    I love the headline agility in that article. "Western force open to inclusion in super rugby" out of an interview which spent most of the time detailing how super rugby is a basket case and how the competition needs to change in every way before western force would consider returning

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    C'mon the

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    Player lou's Avatar
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    just to put that into perspective though, shasta, the Melb v Adelaide Crows game, which accounted for over 10,000 people was played in the Northern Territory, not actual home game to either team. Just shows you that people will watch a good game over a crap game at home.

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    Champion andrewg's Avatar
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    Interesting comments from John Edwards when the Western Force isn't under RugbyWA.

    Can't imagine that Minderoo is happy with this article

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewg View Post
    Can't imagine that Minderoo is happy with this article
    Have to remember he was responding to a questions from a journo. I thought he was pretty guarded, listed everything that was wrong with the idea but left the door open for what might follow after Rats Arse implodes. Just Wayne trying to add a little more to his article suggesting the Rabble are basically insolvent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewg View Post
    Interesting comments from John Edwards when the Western Force isn't under RugbyWA.

    Can't imagine that Minderoo is happy with this article
    Twiggy is open to combining with Super Rugby to keep the RA and NZRU onside as they need him more than he needs them.

    There is a big difference with the Rebels and Brumbies. The Rebels finances have been hidden since 2015 so only the directors and presumably the RA know what they are. The Brumbies make public their balance at the end of each year and forecast whether they are going to make a profit or a loss the following year.

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    Last edited by Bakkies; 03-06-19 at 14:35.
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    Can't see how that can be helpful in any way! When next year still doesn't seem locked in, telling everyone involved you might only be treating GRR as a placeholder can't possibly be a good thing. Doesn't matter that he probably doesn't speak for the Force any more, who is going to understand the subtleties of that in Japan or China? Bloody, bloody stupid not to play a completely straight bat!

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    I have to agree with Andy S and Andrew G on this one. Minderoo are the ones putting the many $$$$ behind GRR and the new force and any descion to do with GRR or the force or any statements to do with GRR or the force should come from minderoo not Rugby WA (who are not in charge of either).

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    John Edwards has some good points but I would hope that a stipulation any negotiation in the future would be with a completely overhauled RA Board. Next year will show how good GRR is . Take a look at the Chiefs Crusaders crowd in Suva . When the added spice of $1 000 000 comes into play the excitement will increase hugely. AF I believe is onto a winner here . I can see both NZ and East Coast wanting a side involved sooner rather than later . He (AF/,Minderoo) holds all the cards ..... Cmon Force !

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