.Peter_Fitz: This reset might be just the thing to make rugby great again
Something has gone missing from rugby in the professional era: connection. The post-COVID-19 professional game must prize that most of all.
The first burst of professional rugby in Australia, basically until just a bit after the Eales era was over, went better than anyone could have imagined: the Wallabies started winning Bledisloes; lifted the 1999 World Cup; beat the British and Irish Lions; and crowds swelled as never before. The Waratahs regularly played before crowds of 40,000 at the Sydney Football Stadium and everyone in the wider rugby community felt a deep connection to their representative teams.
In the past few years, however?LoadingI know it, and you know it. The game in this country has lost its way, on and off the field. Both the provincial teams and the Wallabies more or less stopped winning, the crowds stopped coming and, most worryingly of all, there was a loss of
connectionbetween the rugby community and our highly paid stars.After the Wallabies miraculously made the final of the World Cup in 2015, I had to threaten management with holy hell to get five Wallabies to turn up at a Cauliflower Club lunch, where 800 of the rugby community were gathering to welcome them home.
I was told at the time the cause of their reluctance was because they were "tired, after a long World Cup".Ambassadors for the game? Not really. Raelene Castle had to threaten her own holy hell to get some of the 2019 Wallabies to turn up for a function at the Australian embassy in Tokyo during that year’s World Cup.
The same malaise was apparent at provincial level.Earlier this year, the fine rugby folk of Albury did a promotion on the morning of a trial match between the Rebels and the Brumbies, saying come and meet the stars, only to be advised by Brumbies management a short time before their scheduled appearance that they wouldn’t be coming because there was a bit of drizzle.
Tevita Kuridrani of the Brumbies is tackled by NSW playmaker Will Harrison during round seven of Super Rugby, just before the season was suspended.Credit:Whowasthere? Nick Farr-Jones and Tim Gavin, two Wallabies of the old days, still turning up to beat the rugby drum all those years on, for no reward.
My point?Rod Kafer is right in saying Australian rugby has been sick for many years, and we all know that. I disagree strongly, however, in attributing the slide to any person in particular or even a few people. Mostly the people you see at the top level are seriously good rugby folk – and I am thinking particularly at board and chair level – doing their absolute best for the game, with their only reward being endless headaches and bitter public criticism as everyone rips in. What ails the game in this country is not due to particular people making wrong decisions. The way back to rude rugby health will not be an easy one.
The coronavirus pause, however, is going to allow a massive reset of the game in this country. It's a time to recognise what has gone wrong and how we can come together as rugby people of good will to fix it, make it better.I say the starting point is we need to get back to the old values as much as possible, make players understand they owe the game far more than the game will ever owe them. Got that, you blokes?
While it is one thing for you to make a good living from it, if you don’t have a sense of privilege in wearing the jersey, you needn’t bother putting the boots on in the first place, and good luck in rugby league, or France, or wherever.LoadingIn the new age to come, we must build slowly. Cutting back players' salaries to rather more humble levels will be easy – the new cake to split up is going to be a lot smaller anyway.
But let us also look at what professional rugby can learn from the amateurs. Before the plague, it was the amateur game that flourished as people flocked back to the club matches, with beer and sausages on the hill on a Saturday afternoon to watch the local team go round.
Why, because they felt aconnectionto them. The new professional game must prize that connection most of all. A rough ride is ahead. Read more: The Sydney Morning Herald »
Peter_Fitz 10 Peter_Fitz Good article Peter. However, I can't let it go without digging out this wonderful letter to the UK Daily Telegraph back in 2015....... Peter_Fitz dreamin’... Peter_Fitz Totally untrue on the Tokyo embassy - the players were happy to go - Cheika had the problem! Peter_Fitz Lost cause
Peter_Fitz Dreamin’ Peter_Fitz Raelene Boils and bs Rugby Australia have completely destroyed Rugby is Aus!!!! It is now Harvey Norman Rugby!!!! Zeeero interest until 2080!!!!! Peter_Fitz But the game is crap to watch. Too many stoppages and the ball-in-hand time is getting worse. Make it watchable or let it die..
Peter_Fitz He calls himself an atheist but believes in a bigger lie Peter_Fitz Great rugby article! Cooler heads prevail Peter_Fitz Great article mate. I agree with a lot of the things you said. As an Argie, I believe The Pumas are going in the same direction. But I guess is a matter of the sport becoming professional, in countries where these sports have a very important amateur component..pride & belonging
drdavebond Peter_Fitz Point very well made! Peter_Fitz Hear hear Fitz. There are plenty of people, at all levels of the game, doing great work for the right reasons. We’ll come through this. Looking forward to when the theshuteshield kicks off again when we’re through all of this. Peter_Fitz Less woke bellends like Peter running the game in australia would be a good start
Peter_Fitz Bring back the Amateurs. Yes. The gane played in hell Peter_Fitz Need to change the rules back to 90s style to make it better again. Kick, scrum, scrum, kick is boring as Peter_Fitz Peter_Fitz More grass roots and less rock stars please. Peter_Fitz Doubt it - it’s a mugs game
This reset might be just the thing to make rugby great againSomething has gone missing from rugby in the professional era: conection. The post-COVID-19 professional game must prize that most of all. Peter_Fitz Never Peter_Fitz Peter_Fitz: Hmm Peter_Fitz But also probably not
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