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Bob Dwyer's scathing assessment of Rugby Australia

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Post by Recwatcher16 on Tue 07 Apr 2020, 9:22 am

In these distressing times, rugby politics and economics is a small distraction, but interesting nonetheless.
Bob Dwyer quoted in the media yesterday;

"What I see happening is that RA will be bankrupt, the board will have to resign and we can go back to having a board with proper representation of the people who are the game. 

What RA failed to understand is that they are Rugby Australia, not Rugby Wallabies, and if you don't get that then what do you understand about the game? You are supposed to be running the game in the country and the Wallabies are a product of how well you run the game. The absolute stand point is that the Wallabies are not Australian rugby – they are the pinnacle of Australian rugby."

"I have tried for years to explain to the senior members of RA that the Wallabies or Super Rugby are not the sport of rugby in this country – that is the outcome of the sport of rugby. Club rugby in the two strongholds of Brisbane and Sydney is currently going brilliantly. It's phenomenal with record crowds at the end of season matches plus crowds getting bigger. One of the Brisbane clubs had an open day for the new season from Under 7 to seniors had 2,500 kids registered.
"No matter what happens, rugby in Australia will never cease to exist."

Perhaps the penny will drop but even the RFU have now abandoned the rugby Championship to concentrate on the funding elite players in the Premiership. This SH centralised top down model (copied in the north) is eventually crumbling because it is a finite structure - unless you want test rugby every other week.
As far as the professional tier goes in the future, perhaps the English league should combine into a British league to fund Welsh, Scottish clubs etc rather than Union franchises. Not ideal but perhaps necessary.

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Post by tigertattie on Tue 07 Apr 2020, 10:00 am

Cant argue with Bob,

Its a general principle in many walks of life that you need to build from the ground up and not the top down. Build a strong foundation and you're set for years.

The issue with the correct way of doing things from the ground up is that it takes years and years for the improvement to show and rugby fans, like everyone else, wants to see instant results.

It's why businesses struggle to do it, crikey even countries struggle to do it. A Prime Minister can chuck some money at something to give a quick fix and is hailed a hero, but another Prime Minister could spend years funding education and child services so that the next generation prosper, but the current generation wouldn’t buy into it as they want to see the benefits now.

It's comparable to buying a multi million pound scanner for the NHS now or spending that money on education for the next generation of health workers.
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Post by Guest on Tue 07 Apr 2020, 11:06 am

Yes, very good point. It shows a vapid focus in the corporate world and irresponsibility towards the less 'glamorous' aspects of organisation. Grassroots rugby isn't 'sexy'. It also doesn't produce short term gains which can be rewarded with bonsuses. If you hand the reins over to purely corporate people, the life and soul gets torn out of the game and it becomes a zero sum game for whatever is most profitable. Like everything, it needs balance, and RA seems to have been totally mismanaged. The farce with Folau just tops it all off. The Wallabies need to be successful but as long as their Super Rugby teams are also-rans they don't really stand a chance, and that all starts in the schools and clubs.

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Post by Old Man on Tue 07 Apr 2020, 11:55 am

Recwatcher16 wrote:In these distressing times, rugby politics and economics is a small distraction, but interesting nonetheless.
Bob Dwyer quoted in the media yesterday;

"What I see happening is that RA will be bankrupt, the board will have to resign and we can go back to having a board with proper representation of the people who are the game. 

What RA failed to understand is that they are Rugby Australia, not Rugby Wallabies, and if you don't get that then what do you understand about the game? You are supposed to be running the game in the country and the Wallabies are a product of how well you run the game. The absolute stand point is that the Wallabies are not Australian rugby – they are the pinnacle of Australian rugby."

"I have tried for years to explain to the senior members of RA that the Wallabies or Super Rugby are not the sport of rugby in this country – that is the outcome of the sport of rugby. Club rugby in the two strongholds of Brisbane and Sydney is currently going brilliantly. It's phenomenal with record crowds at the end of season matches plus crowds getting bigger. One of the Brisbane clubs had an open day for the new season from Under 7 to seniors had 2,500 kids registered.
"No matter what happens, rugby in Australia will never cease to exist."

Perhaps the penny will drop but even the RFU have now abandoned the rugby Championship to concentrate on the funding elite players in the Premiership. This SH centralised top down model (copied in the north) is eventually crumbling because it is a finite structure - unless you want test rugby every other week.
As far as the professional tier goes in the future, perhaps the English league should combine into a British league to fund Welsh, Scottish clubs etc rather than Union franchises. Not ideal but perhaps necessary.

Yep, and SARU allowed this top down approach to relegate the once revered Provincial Currie Cup to a watered down competition.

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Post by Brendan on Thu 09 Apr 2020, 12:26 am

I think RA has been poorly managed at the top.

The farce with the Force showed this easily.  The Rebels were the one to cut and should of allowed Forrester to fund the Force.  They would then of only had 3 teams to fund at the top level freeing up funding for the lower level.

To compound the mistakes they then wasted money they don't have into players to keep them at home.  This resulted in the Wallabies taking more money not only from grassroots but also SR.  Scotland have it done well, they have a max number they will pay to keep a player in Scotland and if you want more we will see you for internationals.  If a player like Folou or Kervi etc were playing in Europe but still representing the National team they could still be used for all the branding but not costing the massive wages.

Castle seems way out of her depth and her previous job at the Bulldogs she oversaw backending contracts (she had the final say as CEO but might not have been hands on signing the contracts).  RA under her have continued to spend money they don't have, signing big deals for players that they couldn't afford.

The SRU show what a well run union can do with the finances.  They like Oz were poor at all levels running out of money.  They had a strong leader who made the hard choices with a clear plan of where they were going to put funding.  Rugby is not that big in Scotland simillar to Oz but they now have a surplus while Oz has just run up more debt.

Questions have to be asked where all the Lions money and TV deals went.  It seems to have been wasted with no plan.

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Post by Recwatcher16 on Wed 15 Apr 2020, 2:58 pm

Even Oz journalist's who have made a good living following Test rugby and Super franchises over the last two decades are now saying, shouldn't this be the time we change to a domestic league ?

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/crisis-is-perfect-opportunity-to-change-rugby-for-the-better-20200328-p54eso.html

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Post by le_chat on Thu 23 Apr 2020, 4:31 pm

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/52399689

Raelene's gone.

Got to be honest, you can't get much closer to 'pantomime witch' and 'the book matching the cover' than her. Awful tenure, will be remembered for being useless - to have 10 former Wallaby captains come out and demand your resignation is a sign of where commerce and politics gets completely divorced from the game.

Less superficial, infantile-pandering, rainbow-coloured, corporate, self serving "inclusiveness" from the ARU please, and more getting to grips with what you actually need to do to save a sport that is being suffocated in a sport-mad market and nation. That would be ideal.

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Post by Old Man on Thu 23 Apr 2020, 5:12 pm

Yeah, nah, she wasn’t useless.

This is a case of got rid of her, who’s next for the chopping block
.

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Post by Brendan on Fri 24 Apr 2020, 12:59 am

She has not fixed any of the issues she was brought in to fix

Oversaw a drop in performance at both international and SR level including the season where the Sunwolves got more wins against NZ sides than all the Oz teams Because they lost every game.
At the same time she was overseeing bumper payments to top players aswell as the farce that was Falou who they ended up paying his wages for his new contract because of ineptitude.
She wasn't liked by Foxtel who had been a big financial backer which resulted in them offering alot less for the next TV deal that if accepted would bankrupt RA
Never shook the Bulldog's controversial financial issues which cast a cloud over her ability to change

They have administrator issue as the last guy messed up the Force drama by saying it was all about the money and then when offered the money refused it

She was given a near impossible task but she seemed more interest Iin the politically correct stuff rather than grassroots and she always seemed on the back foot out of her depth.

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Post by Old Man on Fri 24 Apr 2020, 2:45 am

You are very judge mental in regards to her.

On field performances cannot be attributed to her.

Who would have handled the Folau saga differently?

The Force issue had nothing to do with her.

She was given a sinking ship. She was at odds with Cheika who under performed, there was no money to pay out his contract. Etc.

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Post by Brendan on Sat 25 Apr 2020, 10:54 am

Old Man wrote:You are very judge mental in regards to her.

On field performances cannot be attributed to her.

Who would have handled the Folau saga differently?

The Force issue had nothing to do with her.

She was given a sinking ship. She was at odds with Cheika who under performed, there was no money to pay out his contract. Etc.

I referenced the Force issues to show they already had administrative issues and I said she had a near impossible task.

She is head of the organisation so ultimately the book stops with her.
While performance is not what she oversees directly it doesn't mean that her job does not include it.  What did she do to correct the issue.  Was there crisis talks between the 4 SR teams and someone she tasked with fixing it when all 4 teams failed to beat any NZ team.  Even small businesses would be having crisis meetings if they shops/branches etc were losing so badly to rival comdepitors.

In regards to Falou I do think other people would have dealt with it differently.  After the first time she signed off on giving him an even bigger wage which then resulted in the pay out being bigger than it would have been if they had said that it was unacceptable the first time.  By getting him to say sorrow for offence but it's what I believe they then set a precedent that saying sorry for hurt but not for belief was ok.  You also had the ridiculous situation were Chekia came out and said he would never pick him thus firing him from international duty before any tribunal.  As CEO why didn't she have a tighter control on him and issue a statement to say an internal review is being carried out and there will be no further statement.  Chekia could then of said we spoke about it move one.  Look at Sarries handling of Billy as a comparison.

Because the sponsers came out so strongly against Falou he was go rid of.  When Foxtel are constantly giving out about Castle and then they offer a 40% small tv deal she had to take the blame.

When Scotland were under massive financial pressure they brought in someone who made the hard choices and focused on core things and got the debt down and now make a profit with a more lean organisation.  Players were not kept because they were to expensive but they allowed them to play internationals so that they were as compeditive as they could be at the money making side of the game.

Castle on the other hand increased the spending at Super Rugby and internationals on player wages while there is no evidence that there was any increase in revenue (if anything with falling attendances there was less money).  The ARU could have said (like Scotland with Glasgow) we are putting most of our best players into these two teams so we can compete.

The Bulldog ran into financial issues because they had signed players they couldn't afford by loading most of the pay on the end of the contract.  After she and the coach left it turned out they had no money to make any changes to bring in players because all the future wages were already promised so the cap was full. She increased wages yet had no way to pay them (As opposed to Scotland who said this is what we can afford right now which is less than you were on, when things get better then we can pay you more)

Name one thing she did to reduce the debt or grow the income.  That is what she was brought in to do. The last CEO fell on his sword so that Castle would be able to start with we have no money let's make better choices to cut costs and grow the game. Part of her being hired was her getting good results with the Bulldogs but she obviously fail to mention the loading in the interview. If she didn't know than she was incompetent financially to not be able to see the contracts were being under paid. If she was financially incompetent she would have got the job.

As most people don't watch SR compared to the internationals would it of been better to have gone down the South African route of letting players leave but have your strongest squad possible for internationals. They don't have money to lure players home but that didn't stop them trying to spend money they didn't have.

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Post by Old Man on Sat 25 Apr 2020, 11:43 am

Sorry Brendan, but you are making a lot of general comments about issues where little proof is shown.

Look at Super rugby log from 2017 when Castle took over and the logs subsequent, there has been an improvement.

Regarding the Folau issue we live in a politically correct society where everyone wants to be woke, if sponsors force ARU to deal with issues like Folau then there is little choice.

She gave him enough chances to fall into line, he chose not to, she had no choice.

Many of the decisions she made were hard choices, obviously with advice from lawyers and executive members.

As for increasing revenue, it was in the middle of a five year cycle, what would you like to negotiate during that time?

Now she is being critisezed for not accepting a reduced deal from foxtel?

How does that make sense?

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Post by Brendan on Sat 25 Apr 2020, 7:24 pm

My issue is if you can't increase revenue then tell the players that you can't increase their wages. She carried on allowing big player wages over her tenure which is unacceptable especial at the same time cutting funding to the grassroots because there was no money.

The issue with Falou (I don't think he should have been fired) was either you cut him loose the first time or you keep him the second time. You don't give him a pay rise for the first one then sack him from international duty on the spot the second time.

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Post by Recwatcher16 on Sun 10 May 2020, 11:19 am

The sentiment to a bottom up rather than top down structure appears to be gathering pace in Australian media and strategic commercial thought.
If this develops and it comes off, this will only be good for the wider game rather than the current farcical elite game which has become totally removed from the sports base of players and fans alike.

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/forget-the-kiwis-australian-rugby-s-future-is-local-20200508-p54r97.html

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Post by funnyExiledScot on Tue 12 May 2020, 5:14 pm

If you want Exhibit A for the failure of the "top down" philosophy, just look at Scottish rugby from the late 90s.

Bob is spot on.

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Post by Recwatcher16 on Thu 11 Jun 2020, 9:57 am

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/private-equity-giant-in-talks-with-rugby-australia-20200610-p5519e.html

Predictably another huge private equity outfit are now looking to buy into RA. Interestingly " Incoming Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan confirmed the firm's interest and said while Test rugby and the grassroots game were off limits, Super Rugby was ripe for a shake-up."

That suggests more of a domestic approach to make up for lost ground to the NRL who have a focus on access with both the numbers of teams and fta media for players and fans alike. NZ with their top down model may soon be on their own if they are not careful.

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Post by Brendan on Fri 12 Jun 2020, 4:27 pm

There is nothing wrong with Bottom up or top down (tough I think every country except France has a clear gap between the Professional Rugby and everything else)

Australia's problem is they are missing a few steps on their ladder.  They have international and Super Rugby.  Then only two Super Rugby teams have the next level while the other two are missing it.  It means that for most Australian players they can only come through schools so and the amateur set up feels no connection to SR. If they had a Mitre10 or Currie Cup type competition below SR they would have somewhere for "nearly there" people to play.  But now your choice if you get cut from a SR squad is go abroad or go get a real job.  Both result in a lost player for the SR teams in the future. Nathan Hynes is an example of someone not good enough for SR in Australia went to Scotland and played for fun. He didnt think he would be a professional player kept moving up the levels and becoming a professional and international.

RA seem to be finally waking up to the fact that wages to professional players is to high and that money needs to go to grassroots too.

It has always seemed strange to me that Australia and South Africa decided to have so few professional teams. Even Wales tried to run 10 professional clubs and when it didn't work they then reduced. If Australia had run an 8 team league maybe they could have built up their league instead of starting with 3 teams and give the other football codes a big head start in the other areas.

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Post by Old Man on Fri 12 Jun 2020, 4:49 pm

SARU Proffessional model

You can read this article which provides clarity on the professional model in SA

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Post by Brendan on Fri 12 Jun 2020, 9:03 pm

Old Man wrote:SARU Proffessional model

You can read this article which provides clarity on the professional model in SA

Great Article.  This came about because SARU and the provincial unions took action while they were still able to.  They also didn't set high caps that none of the Unions could have maintained and still been viable.  While the Griqas and Pumas budgets are small by European value it is grand for the local market.

It is also good to see the commitment to young players to guarantee 3 years so that they can have some stability and can focus on rugby rather than getting their next deal. South Africa seem to have cleared up alot of the mess from early professionalism that everyone has gone through, and is much more efficient with its finances.

I also like how they have given clear direction to the second Teir who can have professionals which will help late developers but still must be under the cap by also having semi-pro players. Stops the smaller Unions going bust but allows them to still have "stars" if they want.

I can't understand why people couldn't have had the same foresight in Rugby Australia.  It seems while SARU were worried about the drain and started drawing up plans RA where dealing with the pressing issue of changing their branding in 2017 because that was the real issue they faced. Cost a bunch of money and all they got was a logo that noone cares about and being called a different name. Genius

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Post by Old Man on Fri 12 Jun 2020, 9:05 pm

Yeah the Australian Rugby Union does things differently

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Post by Recwatcher16 on Thu 23 Jul 2020, 10:31 pm

Looks like the new RA management are playing hard ball with NZ proposals and rightly so too.

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/expression-of-no-interest-australia-to-rebuff-new-zealand-competition-invitation-20200723-p55ev4.html

Whilst Union has a lot of ground to make up on the NRL, the market potential is clearly there, it would just take time.

As an indication, the last NRL satellite tv deal for 2018-22 came in at A$1.8Bn for their 16 team domestic league competition.

The adoption of an elite centrally controlled and funded Super Rugby approach has been a disaster for RA and the club foundations of the game in Australia.

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