Former Aussie rugby coach and broadcaster Alan Jones says his country is no longer a major power in the game and must look to New Zealand to revive its fortunes.
In a column in The Australian newspaper, Jones said the Wallabies were being left behind. ”We don’t rate. It’s time for Australian rugby, for God’s sake, to confront its demons.”
He said many in New Zealand rugby were embarrassed and concerned about their transtasman neighbours.
”New Zealanders won’t mind me saying it, but they are a tough and arrogant lot. Nothing wrong with that.
”But it means the only way you win their respect is by beating them consistently on the playing field and, better still, on their playing fields. Victory has its own ability of subduing their brashness and cockiness.
”Success on the scoreboard brings with it domination elsewhere. As a result, New Zealand dominate at Sanzaar. They dominate at the tables of the IRB.”
He said that in 1996 Australia led the way in demanding that to be selected for the Wallabies, players had to be playing Super Rugby in Australia.
”New Zealand followed Australia on this, as New Zealand followed Australia on many things in the past that led to better coaching and better performance. Now Australia has been left behind.”
Jones wanted the ”Giteau law”, where players who have played 60 or more tests are eligible for national selection despite playing overseas, repealed immediately.
”Our players are well paid. We must reinstate the desire to wear green and gold as being the most powerful and dominant force to motivate our players.”
Jones said Australia didn’t have to look far for a good model to follow. New Zealand’s centrally contracted player system was responsible for making the All Blacks the No 1 team in the world.
”What the board of Rugby Australia don’t understand is that its real assets are not the 140-odd people who are employed at its head office doing God knows what; it’s not the fancy buildings that they build at places like Moore Park; and it’s certainly not the blazer brigade, who are presiding over this crisis, even though many of them give the impression that they think they are the game.
”The real assets are the players and the coaches and their support staff. And that is where the success or failure of the game rests.”
He said that after 39 defeats in a row by Aussie Super Rugby teams to New Zealand franchises, there was still not a murmur from anyone at the top about how this was going to change.
”Rugby Australia obviously don’t understand the gravity of the problem, and even worse, they can’t provide a single answer. The crowds are so bad these days, they’re not even published.
”Already, if you go to some schools in Brisbane and Sydney, private schools, they are fielding more soccer and AFL teams than rugby teams. Something has to be done before this becomes the beginning of the end.”
Jones said New Zealand faced its demons after the disastrous 2007 failed World Cup campaign.
”Only months after that defeat in the quarter-finals, New Zealand Rugby gathered together everyone who mattered. There was only one question that was asked — what must be the No 1 priority for New Zealand rugby?”
The answer was simple — restructure the management and control of New Zealand’s most vital assets — the players, coaches and support personnel.