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Thread: Rugby Australia on the cusp of the ‘biggest change since rugby went professional"

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    Rugby Australia on the cusp of the ‘biggest change since rugby went professional"

    Christy Doran from Fox Sports

    October 4th, 2021 4:50 pm
    from here

    In one of the most important moments in Australian rugby history, Rugby Australia is on the cusp of moving to a more centralised model.

    After years of being stalled by bureaucracy and political factions, the governing body has managed to convince the states of the necessity of becoming “leaner and meaner”.

    Rugby Australia will follow the lead of the Irish Rugby Football Union and New Zealand Rugby, who have for years operated under centralised programs.

    But Rugby Australia‘s own centralised program will be unique from both of the aforementioned nations.

    By doing so, duplication will become a thing of the past and Rugby Australia will be involved in all the appointments of head coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, player signings as well as have greater control around sponsorship and finance.

    Rugby Australia is also intent on making sure member unions don’t warehouse players, starving other sides of talent in key positions.

    The governing body also wants to ensure players move to other Australian franchises instead of taking up contracts overseas if relationships sour with their teams.

    Wallabies star Quade Cooper was frozen out of the Reds at the end of 2017 by Brad Thorn, who wanted to move in a new direction when he took over.

    Izack Rodda, meanwhile, wanted to leave the Reds in 2020 and ultimately left to go overseas before returning to the Western Force in 2021.

    The streamlining of the rugby programs will save the governing body millions of dollars.

    Rugby Australia chair and former News Corp executive Hamish McLennan is the driver towards the centralised model.

    “For the good of the game, we’re absolutely committed to doing it,” McLennan told foxsports.com.au.

    Rugby Australia is hoping to capitalise on the momentum forged from four straight Wallabies wins over the coming months.

    McLennan is supported by RA boss Andy Marinos and the board, including former Wallabies Daniel Herbert and Phil Waugh.

    Importantly he has the support of the Super Rugby franchises, with sources confirming they are principally aligned with the governing body.

    It was a little more than two years ago that Scott Johnson, who was announced as RA’s DOR in late 2018 and formally started in the autumn of 2019, poured cold water on the idea and said “we are not a copy cat country.”

    “The big part of me coming back, we talk about centralised programs and models and then we talk about alignment. I don’t think we can as a country be centralised,” Johnson told Fox Sports, with RA having four Super Rugby franchises at the time.

    “We like the point of differences that the provincial teams bring. I do believe we should have an aligned system. One stick doesn’t make that much damage but if you put them all together it’s a pretty good weapon.

    “I think we have four really good provincial teams, and if we start working and working together, we can be pretty strong and formidable.”

    But the change of administrations, as well as the enforced ones from Covid, have seen RA re-evaluate its bottom line, while trust has been built between the various member unions.

    Although the intricacies of the centralised model have yet to be drawn out, sources believe an agreement could be reached by year’s end in what one official described as “the biggest change since we went professional”.

    “I think there’s more transparency and trust between ourselves,” one RA source responded, when asked why the centralised concept would get off the ground after years of being spoken about.

    “There’s nothing hidden.

    “There’s a sense we need to change.

    “We’ve suffered a lot as a code.

    “We’re committed to fixing the problems.

    “Whether that’s commercial deals, from hosting the World Cup and the TRC, I think they believe we’re very genuine.”

    Ahead of the 2019 World Cup, the IRFU brokered a deal to see rising playmaker Joey Carbery move from Leinster to Munster.

    The deal was done to ensure Carbery could continue his development wearing the No. 10 jersey where he was stuck behind British and Irish Lions playmaker Johnny Sexton at Leinster.

    By moving to a centralised program, RA would similarly be able to influence where players end up across the five Super Rugby franchises.

    A case in point would be Jordan Petaia, where Wallabies selectors are keen to see him play fullback but, at this point, the prodigious talent has played predominantly on the wing or at outside centre with Jock Campbell instead preferred in the No. 15 jersey.

    But with Campbell not in the selection frame at the Wallabies, Petaia has been denied the chance to play in his preferred position, with injuries also playing a strong part in Brad Thorn’s decision making regarding selection.

    Last month, Thorn didn’t guarantee Petaia would play at fullback in 2022 and said they rated Campbell highly.

    McLennan is resolute in his desire to make positive change for rugby in Australia, with their private equity pitch moving closer also.

    “We want to make meaningful decisions around structure,” McLennan said.

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    Champion Tazzmania's Avatar
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    WARNING!!!!

    This seems frought with "danger" for the lesser unions like ourselves.

    We appear to be building up our own head of steam as far as development structures are concerned why would we even contemplate letting Rugby Australia get their grubby paws over us again after what we went through previously under their "stewardship"

    We need to stay clear.

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    I guess I am going to be that guy again.

    In my humble opinion. I believe that the actions of the current board of RugbyAustralia at the very least deserve enough rope to prove me wrong.

    But I think that they have proven that arent the same board that was lead by Cameron Clyne. That they are doing their very best to lead Rugby out of the doldrums of the previous decade.

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    Champion Tazzmania's Avatar
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    They may not be the same, however I believe the governance rules remain the same and the points of priority will also remain unchanged.

    Lets create a hypothetical if they control the selection of head coach as they say they want to. What happens when say us and the Waratahs happen to be looking for a head coach at the same time, who do you think they will allocate the better head coach to, and exactly the same will happen with player allocations?

    Case closed

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    I've seen this one before.

    It didn't end so well.

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    You'd like to think there was a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve, and don't just think that simply being centralised will somehow solve any and all problems. But I have to say that "Rugby Australia will be involved in all the appointments of head coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, player signings as well as have greater control around sponsorship and finance" rings just about every single alarm bell there is. Places a huge reliance on those in charge behaving with fairness, evenhandedness and equity across all of the teams without any fear or favour...I guess we'll see. Feels an awful lot like where we were in 2017 though...can as easily see it being used to shut down anything done in WA if they don't get to run it or benefit directly by it.

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyS View Post
    You'd like to think there was a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve, and don't just think that simply being centralised will somehow solve any and all problems. But I have to say that "Rugby Australia will be involved in all the appointments of head coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, player signings as well as have greater control around sponsorship and finance" rings just about every single alarm bell there is. Places a huge reliance on those in charge behaving with fairness, evenhandedness and equity across all of the teams without any fear or favour...I guess we'll see. Feels an awful lot like where we were in 2017 though...can as easily see it being used to shut down anything done in WA if they don't get to run it or benefit directly by it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tazzmania View Post
    They may not be the same, however I believe the governance rules remain the same and the points of priority will also remain unchanged.

    Lets create a hypothetical if they control the selection of head coach as they say they want to. What happens when say us and the Waratahs happen to be looking for a head coach at the same time, who do you think they will allocate the better head coach to, and exactly the same will happen with player allocations?

    Case closed
    I agree and accept all of that.

    And counter with...........

    • In 2017 Andrew Forrest wasn't a "known player"
    • IF NSW and QLD were chasing the same coach/player do you think that they would get away with the alleged outcome of NSW vs WA?

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    Veteran Sheikh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by .X. View Post
    “I think we have four really good provincial teams, and if we start working and working together, we can be pretty strong and formidable.”
    That was a telling line from the article. This centralisation model doesn't include us.

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    Not without governance reform. Too much vested interest in NSW.

    I am pro centralisation in principle, but agree with Andy that there is a complete lack of clarity about how equity would be maintained.

    Don't give people the benefit of the doubt, ask them what the built in accountability measures will be. It's not a lot to ask, particularly given how things have gone in the past (and not just in WA).

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Interesting timing isn't it?

    The tahs have a winless season and their worst two years on record and all of a sudden rugby Australia are looking to control every Australind players destination.

    I hope hodgo has briefed Tony Lewis in detail about this, because I certainly don't have as much trust as X.

    The board may have changed, but many of the vested interests, voting members and staff haven't.

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    C'mon the

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheikh View Post
    That was a telling line from the article. This centralisation model doesn't include us.
    But you overlooked another line from the article:

    "...Johnson told Fox Sports, with RA having four Super Rugby franchises at the time"


    My fear with this centralisation in the Irish mould is that Western Force becomes the Connacht of Australian Rugby: little more than a development franchise that becomes the perpetual bridesmaid to the stronger "traditional" clubs.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by .X. View Post
    I guess I am going to be that guy again.
    No surprises there X. You are frequently quick to ask people to elaborate or justify any position of doubt about RA/ES Unions motives. So I'd ask you to point to any concrete governance reforms that could give us any confidence in a real change of direction. AFAIK all that has come out of Moore Park is a lot of talk.

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    No surprises there X. You are frequently quick to ask people to elaborate or justify any position of doubt about RA/ES Unions motives. So I'd ask you to point to any concrete governance reforms that could give us any confidence in a real change of direction. AFAIK all that has come out of Moore Park is a lot of talk.
    I would like to thank you Shasta for asking me to justify my existence here. Always great to hear from "mates"

    I guess I am a glass is half full kind of guy and looking for the good in people, its always easier when the bad people are no longer running the Moore Park Asslym.

    Perhaps you haven't seen the news lately. Let me see if I can get you up to speed.

    Cameron Clyne is no longer the Chairman of RugbyAustralia. He got replaced.
    Bill Pulver is no longer the CEO of Rugby Australia.
    Raylene Castle is no longer CEO of Rugby Australia
    Rob Clarke is no longer CEO of Rugby Australia
    Hamish McLennan is the Chairman of Rugby Australia
    Andy Marinos is the CEO of Rugby Australia

    Interestingly enough - from my research - I don't believe that any of the Board or Executive were a part of RugbyAustralia in 2017.

    So the new board/executive:

    bailed on Super Rugby as we know it
    Established SuperRugby AU
    Invited the Western Force to participate
    survived COVID (?)
    offered the Western Force a short-term contract that was rightfully rejected.
    Established -along with NZRugby- SuperRugby Trans-Tasman.
    killed off the Giteau Law - or modified it. Depending on who you talk to.

    I am sure I have missed stuff. It doesn't matter anyway - you will say it wasn't enough or they did it for Andrew Forrest's money or any other excuse you are free to come up with.

    What would I know I live in Sydney. Im probably not even a real Force Supporter

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    FFS.

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    You hear a lot of people talk about the need for cohesion/combinations. You hear more people say, "A strong Wallaby team needs a strong <insert NSW/QLD here>." My worry with centralisation is that short-term interests (better performing NSW team, better performing Wallabies team) would override and exclude long-term interests (growth in non-traditional states, increasing depth of player pool, sustainability of 5 franchises, national footprint, etc).

    You can't look at where this model has worked elsewhere and compare because Australia is relatively unique in geography, lack of a formal "third tier", new markets.

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