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ARU review will help game get its mojo back

MONDAY MAUL

"If we want to be the best rugby nation in the world - not just at the elite level but also as a community game - we can't circle the wagons" ... General Peter Cosgrove.

"If we want to be the best rugby nation in the world - not just at the elite level but also as a community game - we can't circle the wagons" ... General Peter Cosgrove. Photo: AFR

An Australian Rugby Union corporate governance review is long overdue and an important step towards convincing all that the game's administration at the top end is actually professional and no longer suffering from the hangovers of the amateur era.

Prompted by government threats funding could be cut if the ARU stuck with its antiquated ways, General Peter Cosgrove and Mark Arbib, the former federal minister for sport, will head the review, which is expected to lead to a major overhaul, including a fully independent board and each state being on an equal footing.

As numerous sports, particularly Australian football, have transformed themselves through an independent commission, Australian rugby has been laughed at. For decades, NSW and Queensland have been the big brothers. At last week's annual meeting, NSW had five votes, Queensland three, while the other states and territories had one each.

NSW and Queensland also have a major say on the ARU's nine-man board, each having two representatives, while the other states have one.

Knowing their power base is under threat, NSW and Queensland will provide some resistance to this review but it was clear from Cosgrove's tone a few days ago they won't succeed.

''If we want to be the best rugby nation in the world- not just at the elite level but also as a community game - we can't circle the wagons. We've got to be as creative and energetic as we expect our players to be. This is not a time for old men in blazers to say: 'Not on my watch.' It's quite the reverse,'' Cosgrove said.

Ever so slowly, the leather patch blazer brigade, the alicadoos, are being hounded out of Australian rugby. So too the backroom politicking that has marred the game's development, often leading to the ARU and the major states being suspicious of each other and working in opposite directions.

The archaic voting system has even led to left-field candidates winning the Wallabies coaching position and others being ousted.

In 1988, Alan Jones was hopeful of holding onto the Wallabies job, as the NSW Rugby Union had instructed its five delegates to vote for him. However, one NSW delegate rebelled, casting his vote for Bob Dwyer. That was enough for Dwyer to win.

After the 1995 World Cup, Queensland coach John Connolly was highly favoured to replace Dwyer, as his record was far superior to the other two NSW candidates - Greg Smith and Chris Hawkins. However, the NSW delegates ensured Connolly had no chance.

John O'Neill, then about to join the ARU as its new chief executive, was at that delegates meeting and explained what happened in his biography, It's Only a Game. O'Neill had been told before the meeting Connolly was a ''shoo-in'' and that it was a ''done deal''.

When it was announced that Smith had won the vote, ''pandemonium ensued''.

''Fists hammered on the table; there was a rush of noise; papers flew in the air,'' O'Neill wrote. ''QRU chairman Dick McGruther could be heard about the din claiming treachery. His fellow Queensland delegates, John Breen and Norbert Byrne, were finger pointing and the language was blue. [ARU president] Phil Harry called for order and the three Queenslanders simply stormed out of the room. They eventually returned, still seething, while NSW delegates sat there with heads down and the hint of a smile playing at the corners of their mouths.''

O'Neill was suspicious a deal had been done between NSW and one southern delegate to get Smith over the line.

Nowadays the appointment of the Wallabies coach is more professionally conducted. But elsewhere in its administration, improvements are required. It mustn't end there though. After this review, other crucial areas including player development, law improvements and commercial opportunities should be investigated.

Then, at last, Australian rugby, struggling for identity due to AFL and rugby league dominance, may regain some of its mojo.

27 comments so far

  • Let's hope so. Such reforms are long overdue and can only help the game. Let's also hope that the importance of a national competition, regardless of whether it is initially profitable or not, is strenuously emphasised. The lack of depth in Aussie rugby has really been highlighted this year.

    Commenter
    harry
    Date and time
    April 30, 2012, 3:10AM
    • @Harry, the lack of depth in Australian Rugby starts with schools' and junior players. How many of those do we have compared to SA or NZ. I sat in front of a Saffie at the Tahs yesterday and listened as he explained to his companion how Rugby is virtually the only winter sport played at (white?) school. How many Australian schools play Rugby as their main winter sport? Naff all!
      Most of the mony comes from Super 15 but the provinces (such as they are) are generally appallingly run (like another commenter, I'm an ex-member).
      AS I watched the Tahs on Sunday I couldn't help but notice how much better drilled the Crusaders were. Not stronger or cleverer - so many things were automatic. They were patient too. So maybe either the coaching or the application of the players isn't as good as it could be.
      I wish the review well, but I find it difficult to imagine rugby surpassing AFL, or even League.

      Commenter
      Chris
      Location
      Kiama
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 4:26PM
  • And congratulations to Mike Hawker on his election as ARU Chairman. A worthy appointment.

    Commenter
    a don
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    April 30, 2012, 8:30AM
    • Hopefully a shore thing! Let's hope so.

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 9:51PM
  • Well what a surprise - when the ARU finally gets its act together, it may start to get the fans returning to teh game. The current situation is unfortunately laughable - it is a shame it takes the threat of withdrawn funding to get someone to take any notice.

    Too many old faces and closed doors. Get professional and you get successful. Don't lose the connection with the history, nor the great players - their role is essential. Just get them out of the administration of the game.

    Then I, and many others, will return to watching and having any interest in the great gme it is. When will someone finally fix the small things - eg, the time clock running while nothing happens, the scoring arrangements -these things are simply farcical and outdated. We may return to running rugby one day hopefully.

    Looking for excitement and thrills in the game - look to AFL. Shame to say it - just ask yourself - when was the last time you saw a match where it was at a "knife's-edge" for the last 20 minutes - tension is a rarity in rugby. Just boring, boring.

    Just an ex life-member lost to the game.

    Commenter
    TomTom2
    Date and time
    April 30, 2012, 8:44AM
    • Waratahs vs Crusaders - Sunday afternoon

      Commenter
      piru
      Location
      Perth via Rakaia
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 4:44PM
    • Oh please, are you serious or just seriously a pest. Sure there are issues but to say...'when was there a knife-edge in last 20 mins' is a nonsense.
      Yes you are 'lost' and it's questionable as to whether, ever, you were a true 'life-member'.
      Life is a journey not a given @ 2 Tim Tam

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 10:02PM
    • @TomTom2 Good riddance

      Commenter
      Phil
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 01, 2012, 6:26PM
  • Right with you 'harry'. Teh joke that led to WA getting the estra team in 2006 led to a sigh of relief at AFL headquarters where they couldn't believe their luck that the ARU had made such a stupid decision at a time the AFL believed a window of opportunity had opened for Rugby to make a serious in-road in Victoria at the expense of the AFL . That window had long closed by the time the Rebels were (most reluctantly by the ARU) given the go ahead.
    Go for it General - anything will be better than what Rugby has now

    Commenter
    Strineranger
    Location
    Victoria
    Date and time
    April 30, 2012, 10:47AM
    • 'the joke?'

      You mean that massive grassroots movement by the WA rugby community, culminating in a massive show of support by the fans, players and others in the community at Subiaco oval, shown on all the news channels and front page of the WA papers?

      I must've missed the punchline.

      Commenter
      piru
      Location
      Perth via Rakaia
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 4:43PM

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Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs HIG 17:35WS
BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
View All Fixtures
Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 3 2 1 0 47 10
Hurricanes 3 3 0 0 47 13
Stormers 3 3 0 0 26 12
Cheetahs 2 2 0 0 7 9
Chiefs 3 3 0 0 31 13
Rebels 3 1 2 0 -5 6
Highlanders 2 1 1 0 1 5
Sharks 3 1 2 0 3 6
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