Rugby Australia bubble desperate to survive, even if it kills rugby in Australia
By Sam Ryan
How the hell have we ended up here again?
For just a moment it almost looked like things might be set to improve. It almost looked like things might finally change.
But within days, we’re right back to exactly where we started.
With a group of overpaid executives and employees from within the Australia rugby bubble, desperately and blindly supporting one another to ensure they remain relevant and employed, while they drive the sport they’ve hijacked further and further away from anything that could be remotely considered relevance in the wider Australian sporting landscape.
It’s hard to think of many sports who could lose their potential future chairman, CEO and broadcaster all in one week.
But our mates at Rugby Australia have done just that. And they’re all still in control of our game.
Peter Wiggs had an immediate impact at Moore Park. He understood the challenges ahead and seemed willing to dig his feet in. He’d already broken the stalemate between RA and RUPA and had impressed pretty much everyone he’d come in contact with.
The Australian rugby community seemed to have found their new man and he seemed willing to work his tail off to turn this thing around.
To do that, he needed a CEO and quickly nominated Matt Carroll.
Yes, Carroll was his mate and there was certainly a conflict of interest. But a week ago, the Australian rugby community as a whole pretty much unanimously agreed that Carroll was the right man for the job.
Wiggs wanted him hired immediately which at first seemed strange. But not when you look into a little more.
Carroll is currently the boss of the Australian Olympic Committee. Apparently they were supposed to have a big event in Tokyo in a few months time, but it’s been pushed back until next year.
If he was going to jump shift and try to revive Rugby Australia, as the entire rugby community seemed set on a week ago, he’d have to do so pretty quickly to allow the AOC a fair amount of time to replace him.
He wasn’t really in a position to wait three or four months to make a call and as of last week, it didn’t seem like he’d have to.
Almost everyone you spoke to seemed to speak favourably of both Wiggs and Carroll. They were the right men for the job.
But Rugby Australia doesn’t like change. They also don’t like letting new people into their bubble.
Like eight year old boys, four long standing members of the Rugby Australia board decided it was too soon to let the new kid at school sit with them at lunch.
He’d need to wait a few months before that was okay, even though they all agreed a week ago that he would fit right in.
So Wiggs and Carroll were lost to the cause.
The two men who just days ago were lauded by most as the future saviours of Australian rugby were suddenly not the type of people Rugby Australia wanted to work with.
Did Wiggs, and in turn Carroll, spit the dummy when they didn’t get their way?
Or did they just get a better understanding of how resistant to change those inside the Rugby Australia bubble really are?
After taking a look below the deck and finding out how things really worked, did they simply jump ship before it sunk?
You can’t really blame them.
Particularly when the majority of the Rugby Australia state member unions, excluding NSW, released a joint statement during the week saying they fully supported the current administration who got us into this mess to start with.
Those in the bubble must always protect the others in the bubble.
And in all of this, it seems Optus’ interest in coming on board as rugby’s new broadcast partner seems to be disappearing. They don’t want to get tied up in all of this and again you can’t really blame them.
So to solve all these issues and to get our sport back on track, what did our bubble buddies go and do?
They went and hired Rob Clarke, the man who was second in charge of Rugby Australia for three of the worst years in the organisations history.
You really can’t make this stuff up and sadly, it seems nothing is going to change.
Nobody has all the answers at the moment but it seems anything but seismic change will inevitably lead to the death of rugby in Australia.
And those in the Australian rugby bubble seem desperate to ride that wave right to the very end.