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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 player 'still visually and verbally fuming'
Greg Growden
March 14, 2014
What a week of gossip, and who better than Greg Growden and Russell Barwick to guide you through it

As the denials and counter-denials continue over what occurred when a large group of Wallabies players were carpeted after a late night in Dublin last year, it is time someone in authority explained what exactly happen. It is easy for those in authority to poo-poo certain media stories, including that players were supposedly dobbed in by team-mates. But everything would be far clearer, and the issue would settle, if someone from the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) who was involved in the process came out and stated step by step what actually occurred, including how the incident or incidents came to light. As ridiculous is for the Brumbies to believe this is just an antic by New South Wales Waratahs players to distract them before the Super Rugby match on Saturday. This issue has been festering for months, and it is known that players from other Australian provinces were similarly unimpressed with the leadership skills shown by some senior players on the Wallabies tour. It is a fact that Wallabies tour captain Ben Mowen struggled for some time to gain the respect of several of his team-mates. Even his spot in the Test team was questioned by others in the side. That cannot be denied. And no doubt the Waratahs-Brumbies match will be frothy. One Waratahs player is "still visually and verbally fuming" over what occurred in Dublin.

Keep calm and don't think of Dublin …

There could even be fun and games at the Brumbies-Waratahs after-match function: our Moore Park moles say that posted on the notice board at Waratahs HQ this week was a request for "calm" from all those affected while on the Wallabies tour; the notice lasted about 10 minutes before being made into a paper aeroplane.

Ben Mowen struggled for some time in 2013 to gain the respect of several Wallabies team-mates © Getty Images
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So much for the future given present funding

There is concern at junior level that the Australian under-16 championship - the first important stepping stone to representative football - is under serious threat this year. Again national financial dramas are being cited. We even hear Sydney Juniors will be approached to see if they can fund a replacement tournament.

Force players being trained to 'accentuate the positives'

Considering the pathetic 'we showed the critics' line pushed by Western Force management after their team 'did a Fine Cotton' and defeated Melbourne Rebels last weekend, one assumes it is all sunshine and light at the OK Corral. Not so. Our ever-reliable Perth snouts keep saying the Force aren't exactly happy campers. The latest whisper is that media training for the squad has begun, with players taught how to 'accentuate the positives'. Should be very interesting to hear what they say after a loss. The Force might think otherwise, but they have to suffer another loss some time. Probably as early as Saturday night.

'Sofa' not no good according to his players

Scene at one Australian province last week … the head coach was asked by his chairman at an after-match function why he was so upset following such a good start to the season. The president of another province butted in: "I imagine it has a lot to do with your pathetic administration which extends down from the board." The chairman was gob-smacked. At the same province, the players refer to the CEO as "Sofa" because the players believe he is in need of the psychiatrist's couch. At another province, there has been an official complaint made about the conduct of a high-ranking ARU official. Something about 'stand over tactics'.

He's not dead … he is just upset

A classic moment at the Bulls-Lions match, when there was a minute's silence before the game for a number of former Bulls players who had recently died. Shortly after, the daughter of one of the players mourned rang the ground to exclaim: "He's not dead, he's watching the game in his lounge room, and boy is he upset."

Rumours of the Week

- What's this about the ARU booking National Rugby Championship semi-finals and finals at Parramatta Stadium, paying a deposit, and now seeking a discount? This might have a lot to do with support for the championship diminishing by the minute.

- Interesting to see a Western Force official in deep conversation with several notable Waratahs coaching identities at a Sydney northern beaches cafe recently. New South Wales Rugby Union (NSWRU) officials were also sighted meeting a very influential former Wallabies player in the city during the week. Moore Park move afoot?

- A high-ranking NSWRU official, who was clearly tired and emotional while dining at the Rockpool restaurant in Sydney last week, was heard loudly saying that a notable ARU official was "the Mark Latham of rugby" - as in short term and loud.

Quote of the Week

"The wheel is turning, but the hamster has not entered the cage."

- Warren Brosnihan on the Cheetahs.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Join the conversation with Greg on Twitter @GregGrowden

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