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Thread: An Open Letter from He who can not be named.

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    An Open Letter from He who can not be named.

    I found this here - Try not to shoot the messenger. I didn't write it. I am just reporting it.

    A letter to the Australian Rugby community
    15 Dec 2020
    by Rob Clarke

    On behalf of the Rugby Australia Board and the team here at RA, I would like to thank you for your considerable efforts throughout 2020 to get Rugby into the position we are in today. Without doubt, 2020 has been incredibly challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic shocking our game and community to its core.

    However, through great adversity, Rugby has emerged stronger; we are united, leaner, more efficient and ready for the opportunities that await us in 2021 and beyond.

    The sacrifices that have been made across the game have been incredibly tough, but it was the medicine we had to take in order to re-structure Australian Rugby for sustainable, long-term success. I am confident that the difficult but necessary decisions made this year will allow Rugby to flourish in the future and firmly believe that the best years for our great game are ahead of us.

    Despite the difficult year that we have encountered, it has also been a year in which we worked very hard and achieved so much together – and some of those achievements are worth highlighting.

    Professional Rugby Re-booted
    We salvaged and re-booted a new Super Rugby AU that stabilised the game at a time when the sporting landscape looked very gloomy – in doing so we navigated our way through COVID-19 bubbles, restrictions and quarantines, adapted to the closing of our domestic and international borders and re-structured nearly every facet of our business.

    103,594 rugby fans enjoyed the Tri Nations live in stadiums across New South Wales and Queensland – the first of its kind. Through the support of our State Government partners – in particular DNSW & TEQ, Tourism Australia, SANZAAR and under the guidance of RA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Warren McDonald, we were able to successfully host a six-week Tri Nations tournament that had the eyes of the Rugby world on Australia.

    I’d also like to acknowledge and thank our professional players, management and support staff for the sacrifices they made this year. Our Super Rugby and Wallabies players, and staff spent most of this year under strict COVID-19 protocols, in order to ensure that we got Rugby back on the park. They sacrificed being with loved ones, at times for months on end, had to endure constant COVID-19 testing and dramatically limited their interactions with the wider community, which allowed the game to continue and survive. It is a credit to Dave Rennie and his team, as well as our five Super Rugby programs that our game rose to the challenge and kept Rugby being played, as well as COVID safe.

    In Rugby Sevens, our teams adapted to the challenges of COVID-19 with the unfortunate reality of no international tournaments for them to participate in. Both squads have trained incredibly hard and have showed determination and true Australian grit in continuing their preparation for the delayed Olympic Games next year.

    Our High-Performance unit has been incredibly adaptive to everything that has been thrown at them in 2020, and I know the team are working hard to build-out our pathways programs to ensure we continue to produce elite athletes for our Super sides, and national teams.

    New beginnings
    We also said goodbye to our 25-year broadcast partner in FOX Sports with Rugby finding a new, exciting home in 2021 with the Nine Entertainment Co. I would like to acknowledge the enormous contribution from FOX Sports since Rugby went professional in 1996 and welcome the Nine Network and Stan Sport – an exciting and innovative partnership that I’m confident will re-energise the game and bring it to a new free-to-air audience for the first time.

    In partnership with the Nine Network and Stan Sport, Australian Rugby will have a great opportunity to be showcased with new voices and leading-edge broadcast production for the Wallabies, Buildcorp Wallaroos, Super Rugby, Buildcorp Super W and Premier Club Rugby. I know the team at Nine and Stan Sport see our game as the centrepiece of their future broadcast success, and we should all feel enthusiastic about our teams and competitions for 2021.

    Community Rugby stands tall
    In trying circumstances, I’m delighted to say that the community game has taken some significant strides forward in 2020. Rugby has also gone against industry trends with many sports recording declines in participation numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We congratulate the Northern Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania for growth in registered participation numbers this year with all achieving double digit percent increases. Crucially, across the board in registered female participation, Rugby has recorded 15 percent growth – another stellar performance. Getting more girls and women into our game is crucial to our long-term success, so you should all be congratulated for your efforts and these results.

    It is worth noting that despite our well documented financial challenges, which has seen RA reduce its cost base by $40 million p.a, with an overall head office staff reduction of 45%, there will be NO reduction in funding to the community game in 2021 and we will be restoring the same level of funding as we had in 2019.

    This will provide us with a great launchpad for further growth at the ‘grassroots’ next year and beyond when we hope to provide increased resources into the critical area of the game.

    Community Rugby is the lifeblood of our game and again, I wish to thank all your community teams and thousands of volunteers for the amazing work that you do in inspiring Australians to participate and enjoy Rugby, right across the country.

    A truly remarkable performance
    Rugby also made another small step towards reconciliation this year with Olivia Fox of Newtown School of the Performing Arts singing Advance Australia Fair in the language of Eora, which is spoken by the Gadigal people, and then in English on 5 December ahead of the Wallabies match against Argentina.

    The act itself was a beautiful moment and was greatly supported by the Wallabies who showed both respect and dignity in taking the time to learn the verse in the Eora language - and belted it out in full voice.

    Olivia’s performance was truly remarkable, and I genuinely believe we witnessed a watershed moment in Australian sport. It has started a meaningful national conversation and created a real sense of pride for many Australians.

    It was a small step towards reconciliation and for me, reconciliation is not one act, but thousands of actions which ultimately benefits all of Australian society and I am proud of Rugby’s involvement in this important journey.

    Looking ahead….
    2021 will be a massive year and one where we can build upon the momentum we have created, particularly in the latter half of 2020.

    We have an exciting Test calendar for the Wallabies that will be announced in the new year, including a full Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup series. We also have the Tokyo Olympic Games for our Men’s and Women’s Sevens teams and the Rugby World Cup across the ditch in New Zealand for the Buildcorp Wallaroos. This will be the first time that the World Cup for the Women’s game will be in the southern hemisphere and I know the squad are excited for their campaign.

    2021 will also feature Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Trans-Tasman – with weekly Saturday night matches on free to air television on the Nine Network. After so many years we will finally be providing a product that our fans have been calling for with regular local derbies, matches against the best provincial clubs in NZ and kick-offs in friendly time zones. Our Super Rugby clubs are well into their pre-season preparation with two championship trophies on the line starting on February 19.

    Australian Rugby has many opportunities ahead and I’m pleased to say our bid for Rugby World Cup 2027 is gaining momentum. I’d like to thank RA’s Chairman, Hamish McLennan for his passionate leadership since taking the reins in June and for appointing a first-class Rugby World Cup Bid Advisory Board that will guide us through the many challenges along the way.

    Rugby is fortunate to have so many captains of industry actively involved in our bid and I’d like to acknowledge Advisory Bid Chair, Sir Rod Eddington as well as General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK AC(Mil) CVO MC (RETD), Hon John Howard OM AC, John Coates AC, John Eales AM, Olivia Wirth, Elizabeth Gaines and Gary Ella - and thank them for their dedicated efforts already in 2020.

    Receiving an 8.8-million-dollar grant from the Federal Government is a shot in the arm for our bid and winning the hosting rights for the 2027 Tournament would be the jewel in the crown of an exciting few years ahead for Australian Rugby with the British & Irish Lions touring in 2025.

    In closing out the year, I would like to pass on my thanks to the Rugby Australia Board we thank them for their tireless efforts and oversight over the last 12 months. The countless Board meetings throughout challenging and often precarious circumstances tested everyone at some stage. It was through dedication, living Rugby’s values and a firm commitment to the cause that saw the RA Board provide courageous and prudent oversight, frequently having to make tough decisions that had a very real impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

    So much has been achieved in a year that will never be forgotten for so many different reasons. Once again, I thank each and every one of you for everything you have done for Rugby in 2020 and the significant (and often hidden) contributions you have made and wish you a very Merry Christmas, a restful holiday and I look forward to Rugby’s positive journey continuing in 2021 and beyond.

    Yours sincerely,

    Rob Clarke

    Interim Chief Executive
    Rugby Australia

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    Let's sacrifice him to our god

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    Polarising to the end....5th Paragraph up from the bottom...mentions everybody involved in RWC 2027 Bid except the CEO of the bid - Phil Kearns...

    Whether PK is liked or not, the fact Clarke makes no mention shows me there are still some big divisions in Rugby Heartland.

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    One can only speculate where the sport might now be positioned if they hasn't pissed away the $30M/yr windfall they got from 2016 onward, and still had the discipline to reduce its cost base by $40 million p.a without needing to reduce funding to the community game...!

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    Veteran Sheikh's Avatar
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    I'm glad that they're not reducing funding in the community game, it gets next to nothing as it is.

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheikh View Post
    I'm glad that they're not reducing funding in the community game, it gets next to nothing as it is.
    Except in WA where Twiggy donated $5m to grassroots rugby if I recall correctly

    https://twf.com.au/showthread.php?t=...ght=grassroots

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Heard on the radio this morning that Andy Marinos from SANZAAR is in the box seat for the permanent CEO role. Not sure if that’s good or bad

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    Let's sacrifice him to our god

    Unfortunately he doesn't accept human sacrifice - just bring beer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Heard on the radio this morning that Andy Marinos from SANZAAR is in the box seat for the permanent CEO role. Not sure if that’s good or bad
    Well, that will be amazing, a RA CEO or Chairman, who did not go Shore School and Sydney Uni! We all know what happened to the last one, who did not tick at least one of those two boxes on her/his CV. I wonder if he now at least has an home address in Mosman in Sydney?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Heard on the radio this morning that Andy Marinos from SANZAAR is in the box seat for the permanent CEO role. Not sure if that’s good or bad
    Incompetent and doesn’t generate money.

    A perfect fit for the job.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Putting aside the Machiavellian parts Clarke played in our 2017 demise .......it's hard to deny the thrust of this piece from SMH. Especially the assessment of AJ's character. I doubt I was the only member here who felt pretty uncomfortable having him on side at the time. Personally I think Jones' hate-filled rhetoric resonates to a similar demographic as Trump's supporters.


    ‘Bitter and twisted’: Outgoing RA boss slams ‘vitriolic’ Alan Jones


    Outgoing Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke has launched a blistering attack on broadcaster Alan Jones, labelling the former Wallabies coach “vitriolic” and “bitter and twisted” for his continuing criticism of rugby and the game’s leadership.

    Having trouble pasting a link to this. It's in the Rugby section of SMH today.

    FIXED.

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...26-p5766q.html

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    Good story, thanks Shasta.

    While I can't forgive Clarke for 2017, rugby seems better placed than when he started this latest role and he's kept his word to move on.

    Full text here in case it is behind a paywall for anyone:

    ‘Bitter and twisted’: Outgoing RA boss slams ‘vitriolic’ Alan Jones

    By Tom Decent
    February 26, 2021 — 7.30pm

    Outgoing Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke has launched a blistering attack on broadcaster Alan Jones, labelling the former Wallabies coach “vitriolic” and “bitter and twisted” for his continuing criticism of rugby and the game’s leadership.

    After stepping into the role of interim CEO at Rugby Australia following Raelene Castle’s ugly departure in April last year, Clarke finished up on Friday after a 10-month stint. He has handed the reins to new chief executive Andy Marinos.



    In an exit interview with the Herald, Clarke discussed a difficult 2020, why he believes the game is in a better position now than pre-COVID and how he attempted to calm down an agitated group of former Wallabies captains with strong views on the state of the game.

    But it was Jones’ repeated bashing of Australian rugby’s administrators, coaches and even media figures, in a weekly column for The Australian, that wore thin on Clarke.

    While the attacks never affected him personally, Clarke believes Jones’ views could not be taken seriously.

    “There are certain individuals, and I’ll mention Alan Jones as one, who I just think consistently takes the negative approach and the personal approach which I find very disappointing,” Clarke said.

    “Alan was one of the Wallabies’ most successful coaches and made a very significant contribution to rugby nearly 40 years ago. Yet the last decade or two, the focus of his commentary, in particular on rugby administrators, has been mostly playing the man, or in Raelene’s case, was playing the woman and not the ball or the issue.


    Michael Cheika and Alan Jones before they squared off as coaches for a Wallabies and Barbarians match in 2017. CREDIT:CHRISTOPHER PEARCE

    “Very often it’s based on incorrect and incomplete information, which creates and perpetuates false narratives. His tone in particular has become so predictably vitriolic and bitter and twisted that in my view he’s lost a lot of credibility. Many people have now switched off because he’s just constantly denigrating the game.

    “I personally have resigned myself to accepting each of his barbs as a badge of honour. Frankly, very few people I think now take them seriously.”

    Clarke is bewildered that Jones has already attacked Marinos, a Welsh international, for being born in Zimbabwe.


    Rob Clarke (left) and Hamish McLennan on the day Australia were awarded hosting rights to the Rugby Championship in 2019. CREDIT:GETTY

    “Look around our top sports at the moment in Australia: Andrew Abdo, CEO of the NRL – you can’t get more tribal and suburban-based competition – he’s South African. So is Craig Tiley, arguably in my view one of Australia’s most respected sports administrators. The interim CEO of Cricket Australia Nick Hockley is English.

    “At the end of the day, if they’re the right people for the job, why does their birth place matter? Australia is one of the most multicultural countries on the planet and rugby is an international sport played in over 130 countries.

    “For what it’s worth, I think Andy is an excellent appointment. I get frustrated with those sort of things where I think it’s negativity for the sake of negativity. I think that’s sad. They’re the sort of things I wish our game could move through.”

    Even Jones’ column from August 13 last year, with the headline: “Rugby’s new broadcast plan a ‘show bag’ of unachievable offerings”, irked Clarke, who alongside chairman Hamish McLennan helped seal a new multi-year deal with Nine and Stan Sport.

    “He ridiculed what he termed a show bag of rugby content that we took to the market as having so little value that no broadcaster would ever invest serious money into it. Stan and Channel Nine proved him wrong,” Clarke said. “We secured a very attractive five-year financial deal with free-to-air exposure for Super Rugby for the first time. In round one of Super Rugby we’ve seen a 200 per cent increase in ratings over the same game last year. That’s early days, I get it, but it’s a great start.”

    Whether or not Jones is able to see the light in rugby’s future, there is no denying the code is not out of the shadows yet.

    COVID-19 effectively dismantled Super Rugby as we know it but Australia was able to get players back on the park, host a Tri-Nations tournament and secure a broadcast deal that has given a degree of financial security for the next few years.

    Clarke, a former chief executive of the Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels who had two stints as chief operating officer of the Australian Rugby Union, had to deal with “fires burning everywhere” when he returned to rugby administration.

    A three-month stint turned into six months and ended as 10. Clarke has left on his own terms, something few bosses of Australian rugby can say they have done.

    “The enormity of those issues was pretty daunting at times,” Clarke said.


    Interim Rugby Australia boss Rob Clarke (left) and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson at the end of 2020. CREDITTU WALMSLEY/RUGBY AUSTRALIA

    “We have a solid foundation in place now. It wasn’t there 12 months ago. The opportunity is there to work on a plan to maximise and leverage a successful Lions tour in 2025 … then, fingers crossed, we win the bid for the 2027 World Cup.

    “It was action packed and fun-filled. I don’t think it will ever be mission accomplished because our game is on a journey. Will you ever reach Nirvana? Probably not. But I’m certainly satisfied that the last 10 months has addressed fundamental issues the game was facing and had to deal with the uncertainty COVID was throwing up. I think it was a wonderful team effort by everyone in Rugby Australia and around the states.”

    While it might be short-lived, rugby appears more united than it has been in the past. Angry former players demanded change just before Castle’s resignation and attempts to repair fractious relationships have gone on mostly behind closed doors.

    “I think many of the former players feel the game might be on a more positive trajectory now and hence why they don’t feel the need any longer to be beating the stick in the media,” Clarke said.

    Clarke and his wife Kylie are waiting to get their COVID-19 vaccines before restarting their sailing adventures around the world.

    Will we ever see Clarke involved in rugby again?

    “I’ve fulfilled five different roles in rugby, I don’t know if there is enough for a sixth,” he said. “But you never say never do you.“

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    Here are my thoughts - I am sure that they are predictable.

    IMHO in 2017 Clarke was instructed to do a job, part of which was the sacking/rorting/screwing of the Western Force. Sure, in a perfect world, he could have refused and been a hero to the masses. But martyr doesn't always get paid, and he has a family to feed.

    When Clarke was appointed CEO - he was employed to do a different job - He had a different boss. He along with Hamish McLellan brought the Western Force back into the fold. Yes - there may be an ulterior motive. The Forrest Family Platinum American Express card. But the end result is that the Western Force are back in Super Rugby. We have a very good broadcast deal for Rugby in Australia - including Free-to-Air. and Clarke left just like he said he would - the majority of TWF members held the belief that he would stay.

    I think his role as CEO was a job well done under difficult circumstances.

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    Putting aside the Machiavellian parts Clarke played in our 2017 demise .......it's hard to deny the thrust of this piece from SMH. Especially the assessment of AJ's character. I doubt I was the only member here who felt pretty uncomfortable having him on side at the time. Personally I think Jones' hate-filled rhetoric resonates to a similar demographic as Trump's supporters.


    ‘Bitter and twisted’: Outgoing RA boss slams ‘vitriolic’ Alan Jones


    Outgoing Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke has launched a blistering attack on broadcaster Alan Jones, labelling the former Wallabies coach “vitriolic” and “bitter and twisted” for his continuing criticism of rugby and the game’s leadership.

    Having trouble pasting a link to this. It's in the Rugby section of SMH today.

    FIXED.

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...26-p5766q.html
    Agree with you 100% re AJ. I too was extremely uncomfortable with having him on our side in 2017. His views are abhorrent.

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    Don't call him AJ - there is only one AJ.





    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    Putting aside the Machiavellian parts Clarke played in our 2017 demise .......it's hard to deny the thrust of this piece from SMH. Especially the assessment of AJ's character. I doubt I was the only member here who felt pretty uncomfortable having him on side at the time. Personally I think Jones' hate-filled rhetoric resonates to a similar demographic as Trump's supporters.


    ‘Bitter and twisted’: Outgoing RA boss slams ‘vitriolic’ Alan Jones


    Outgoing Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke has launched a blistering attack on broadcaster Alan Jones, labelling the former Wallabies coach “vitriolic” and “bitter and twisted” for his continuing criticism of rugby and the game’s leadership.

    Having trouble pasting a link to this. It's in the Rugby section of SMH today.

    FIXED.

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...26-p5766q.html

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