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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.
Ruck'n Maul
Waratahs courting London Irish and Narbonne
Greg Growden
May 2, 2014
Ruck'n Maul: Greg Growden tells Russell Barwick the ARU is in strife over the World Cup squad

The push for the cash-strapped Waratahs to be privately owned has intensified, with the strong possibility of those involved with British and French clubs taking control. Ruck'n Maul sources have revealed this week that the Australian Rugby Union is eager for the shaky Waratahs set-up to involve private equity as soon as possible. ARU officials have told their Waratahs counterparts that it is time to find a buyer. And the potential source of the financial help will surprise many.

 
One Australian province is all aflutter over two players caught on CCTV in a back lane of a red light district being passionate
 

Several New South Wales officials, who were lunching at one of Sydney's most fashionable Asian restaurants a few days ago, let the secret out by loudly discussing over several bottles of sauvignon blanc the London Irish club "buying the Waratahs". Those at the table would certainly know what is going on.

But there could be a second overseas bidder. Let's just say there are a lot of people with very, very strong Waratahs connections, including Bob Dwyer and Rocky Elsom, who are involved in the running of the Narbonne club in France.

Ruck'n Maul has been told confidentiality agreements have already been signed.

Expect a major shake-up in the Waratahs administrative ranks if the foreign owners come in, with several under-performing officials forced out the door. And not before time. Waratahs Rugby Limited on Thursday reported a $96,325 loss for the year ending December 31, 2013.

Australia and Argentina are strange bedfellows

As the Australian provinces continue to apply pressure on Bill Pulver and his crazy push for Super Rugby to morph into endless conferences and hundreds of teams, it is clear Argentina has become one of the ARU's best allies. International Rugby Board sources have confirmed that Argentina's Agustin Pichot was heavily behind the push for ARU chairman Michael Hawker recently joining the Rugby World Cup board. We are told that Pichot lobbied IRB head Bernard Lapasset. Maybe that's why the ARU has been so keen to advance the Argentina cause.

Waratahs fall foul of 'voodoo curse'

Super Rugby Preview: Round 12
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Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale won the R'nM Quote of the Year award last year when he said: "Them flick passes aren't really in our abattoir." And he is high up in the running to be a back-to-back winner with his explanation as to why the Waratahs have always struggled at Eden Park: "There's obviously a voodoo there for a lot of foreign players." I'd imagine the Eden Park voodoo dolls are big sellers at the ground.

Two tribes go to war

Club football may get forgotten at times, and gets little financial assistance, but the support remains. Around 6000 fans are expected to fill Manly Oval on Saturday for the top-of-the-table match between Manly and Warringah Green Rats. The rivalry between the neighbouring Northern Peninsula clubs is intense, and the matches always attract healthy crowd figures. That's why club rugby works. It's tribal. National Rugby Championship games aren't. One day misguided rugby officials will work this out.

Nemani Nadolo is a fine physical specimen © Getty Images
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How do you stop Nemani Nadolo?

A nice line from the Cheetahs Adriaan Strauss about the prospect of having to stop 125kg Crusaders and Fiji winger Nemani Nadolo. "I think you pull your hamstring as you get close so that they can't blame you," Strauss said.

Rumours of the Week

- We have good mail that beleaguered Waratahs chief executive Jason Allen is seeking legal advice over a punchy article by Rebecca Wilson in the Daily Telegraph that ridiculed him for his stance over the team's home ground. Allen should think carefully about heading for the courts. Taking on the News Corp machine is a very silly move. It's a long season.

- One Australian province is all aflutter over two players caught on CCTV in a back lane of a red light district being passionate … with each other. No wonder that province is currently enjoying a good form streak.

- Who is the very high-profile Queensland Reds player who has spoken to Waratahs team management over a provincial change? And the player leaving the Reds is no idle threat. He just does not get on with certain team officials. Waratahs coach Michael Cheika also remains tight-lipped about his future, but the lure of Buenos Aires remains attractive after he was slapped with a $A6000 fine and a six-month suspended sentence for his antics on the sideline in Durban recently.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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