Next LIVE rugby on TV
to be announced
Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:30:05 +0000
  • Switch Edition
ESPN SCRUM / ESPNscrum Columnist
Greg Growden
Greg Growden | Columnist Index
After more than 30 years with The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media in Australia, Greg Growden now writes exclusively online for ESPNscrum. Never afraid to step on toes, you can expect plenty of compelling insight from one of Australia's most renowned rugby writers.
Greg Growden writes ...
Australian rugby shooting itself in the foot
Greg Growden
February 14, 2014
Who is the man in the middle, Western Force? © Getty Images
Enlarge

After endless days of being told through the media that Australian rugby, New South Wales rugby, every type of rugby in this part of the world, has gone bung, you expected to be confronted by buskers and beggars at the Super Rugby tournament launch.

Thankfully those Australian rugby officials who have repeatedly provided "blame game" gloom-and-doom stories to the press opted against asking for donations at the mid-week launch. But the media still soon realised the gravy-train days were over. It was now very much no-frills, cutting away the fat and gnawing on a bit of gristle. We kept our hands in our pockets in fear of hearing Brother Can You Spare a Dime over the loudspeakers.

Australian Super Rugby launches not that long ago involved the best function room in town, Las Vegas-style entertainment, fireworks, plenty of whiz-bang, whooping and hollering. It was the moment when Australian rugby officials convinced all they had a product of the highest international quality, deserving of media saturation. This year, television, radio and print types were beckoned to an out-of-the-way Sydney surf life saving club, with some getting lost along the way.

No-one could complain with the fare on offer from the clubbies. The food, hospitality and the ocean view on offer were first-rate. But it wasn't exactly cutting edge, and attendance numbers were dramatically down.

The sombre tone also wasn't helped when one of the five Australian Super Rugby teams wasn't properly represented. On stage, for the Waratahs were Michael Cheika, Dave Dennis and Israel Folau; the Reds Richard Graham and Will Genia; Stephen Larkham and Ben Mowen were there for the Brumbies; as were Tony McGahan and Scott Higginbotham for the Rebels. In the middle of them all was a very tall man in a Western Force jersey. Only a dedicated Force trainspotter would have known who he was.

Russell Barwick and Greg Growden look at the Australian Super Rugby conference

Greg Clark, the function MC, tried to revive interest by saying the man in the Force jersey had a great story. He was actually from Tasmania. Was he related to Errol Flynn or Merle Oberon, we all wondered? Apparently not, so no media stampede only more puzzled looks. His name? Adam Coleman - one of the new Force breed. Check the official Super Rugby media guide for details. No, he didn't make the cut.

Well where was their coach Michael Foley and leader Matt Hodgson?

Apparently the Force were victims of the "tyranny of distance". Other functions, commitments, trial matches, etc. etc. etc., apparently made it too hard for the Force heavies to get there in time from the other side of the continent. Their media manager got to the launch, as did the main rugby writer from Western Australia, but not the public faces of the Force.

The no show was not a good look, especially at a time when Australian rugby is seriously asking itself whether it warrants five Super Rugby teams when a number of them are either crying poor or relying on the national body for financial support.

In the background at the function, several tournament overseers were muttering about how amateur it all looked, complaining that the Australian Rugby Union should have put more pressure on the Force to have their main men there. This was the tournament shop front window; without the full team representation, it was smeared.

The headlines the following day in the Sydney media?

Nothing rousing there. Instead more trauma and tragedy. The person who should be the code's biggest spruiker was dumping again.

The Daily Telegraph splashed with "We're Flat Broke "with the sub-heading "Rugby boss Pulver warns code must face painful financial measures".

Underneath, ARU boss Bill Pulver provided a gloomy outlook about how cuts, cuts, cuts were required to avoid Australian rugby going into receivership.

Again…. not a good look.


The top ESPNfootytips Super Rugby tipster at the end of the home and away season wins $A2000, with the runner-up claiming $A1000. We also have a pair of Gold Class movie tickets for each weekly winner.

Best of all you and a mate could be heading off to Game II of the Bledisloe Cup series between the Wallabies and the All Blacks in Auckland. The prize includes flight, accommodation, transfers and match tickets. Simply enter your tips WEEKLY to make another entry in the competition.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Italian GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Athletics - Diamond League, Zurich
    Cycling - Tour of Spain
    Darts - World Series
    Golf - Italian Open
    Rowing - World Championships
    Tennis - US Open
    Triathlon - World Series Grand Final
  • Football

    Bayern agree deal for Alonso

    Bayern Munich have confirmed they have agreed a deal with Xabi Alonso over the Real Madrid midfielder's proposed move to the Bundesliga champions

  • Football

    Arsenal among top seeds for Champions League draw

    Arsenal have secured the last position in Pot 1 for Thursday's Champions League group stage draw, joining the other seven seeded clubs

  • Football

    'Everyone would have loved to sign Di Maria'

    Pablo Zabaleta says Angel di Maria will be a great signing for Manchester United and claims his Argentina team-mate is a talent who every club would have wanted

  • Formula 1

    Mercedes no longer a team - Webber

    Mark Webber says Mercedes is no longer functioning as a team following the contact between their drivers at the Belgian Grand Prix

  • Football

    LIVE - Champions League Draw

    Follow all the news as it happens as Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City find out their fate in Europe's premier club competition

Sponsored Links
Make $170 in 60 seconds!
Google Vs Facebook, 60 sec. knock out! Choose a champion, Become a Winner!
Make $25 in 1 Minute!
Start trading with the biggest broker! Register now to receive $25 for FREE!