So where to now for Australian rugby?
The axing of the Western Force is a stain on the reputation of ARU boards, past and present, as well as a knee to the groin of Aussie national pride. What about standing up for the little bloke? Cheering the underdogs?
Wait a minute though? Underdogs? The team that finished 2nd in the Australian conference. Produced the most improved performances over the course of the season compared to last? A team with a solid fan base and a pathway for homegrown players to break into the NSW, I mean, Wallabies team?
As a Melbourne Rebels member, I am relieved that our team survived the cut, but I take no pleasure. The Rebels v Force rivalry was a growing fixture for the new boys. It was growing in stature as a fierce and competitive rivalry. A rivalry, that in time, would be akin to the NSW v QLD rivalry. The so-called states of origin [cough]… Sure we could claim a rivalry with the Brumbies, but they really are more like our bunnies then actual rivals.
And what of the Brumbies? If we were really to have only 4 teams, why not merge them with the Tahs? The aren’t that far apart geographically or culturally, and to be fair, the ACT isn’t even a proper state. Why should NSW invent a new territory, just so they can have another rugby team that, much like the GST it hogs, steals from the deserving people of the west?
So then, what is the way forward?
- Re-instate the Force as the 5th team. If not the 5th team, the 4th, and merge the Tahs and Brumbies.
- Build a national program for coaching, fitness and tactics.
- Stop paying players to retain them when they far cough overseas.
- Set up a full time rugby administration body that is run by sports administrators, not bankers.
Chase your kicks people