Cue up Men at Work and the lyrics “I come from a land down under,” as we welcome Working Class Rugger to the RWU family. WCR is part of that special group of international Rugby Rain Men – a group that know way too much rugby. In addition, he often has articles up on TheRoar.com.au.
WOLLOGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA – For the average USA Rugby fan, the distinction between where the game is positioned domestically couldn’t be anymore removed than that of their Australian peers on the other side of the Pacific.
The United States are a developing Rugby nation, while Australia enjoys all the trappings of a Tier One Union. We have defined pathways, participate in arguably the best league structure in the world in Super Rugby and play against the best worldwide rugby can muster in The Rugby Championship and Spring tours every season. In comparison, we are chalk and cheese sharing very little if anything in common in terms of success and presence on the rugby landscape.
But are we all that different? If you look at both nations recent international records over the past year, you could argue that we are not that different and that in fact, we suffer from the same basic structural flaws that have led to rather lackluster performances on the international stage.
From an Australian fan’s perspective, our current season has been one of regret and disappointment. From six internationals played thus far, we have only emerged triumphant on the one occasion. Three of those losses have been particularly poor most recently just this past Saturday against the mighty Springboks.
So what is this structural flaw? Overlooking the developmental side of the game, I could write a completely different but similar article on that subject, which I might do down the line. Closer observation now, however, shows both nations suffer from severe deficiencies in our competitive structures. While our playing population is more mature in terms of performance, we lack the fundamental developmental tier to ensure that our players are battle-hardened leading into Super Rugby – and ultimately – the Test match arena. We are in desperate need of a national competition above our current club structures that feed our Super Rugby franchises, in much the same manner that the USA is in desperate need of a competitive structure to elevate the standard of play at the elite levels and clubs.
For both nations (once again overlooking the development issues), the need for structures to concentrate the best of the best of our domestic talent is essential for our future player development and overall competitive presence. The similarities are so… well… similar, that we even possess the same issues in establishing this crucial next step.
Back in 2007, the ARU launched the much contested Australian Rugby Championship only to condemn it to the scrapheap the very next season. While it produced some of the most entertaining Rugby I’ve seen and exposed many new prospects to Super Rugby franchises, it was deemed that the financial cost of the competition (it lost $8.7 million in its one and only season) was too burdensome for it to remain a viable and sustainable concept. This in the face of projection that essentially predicted the loss and subsequent but lesser losses in the coming seasons.
It was the expenses related to the ARC that made it such a huge money loser. The cost of such a premier competition was larger than most experts expected… And there, ladies and gents, is where I will stop here for now.
That is Part 1 of my analysis; Part 2 comes tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann and Declan Yeats, respectively.