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By Sam Wolfe | Published  03/9/2007 | Sports | Rating:
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The Downfall of Australian Rugby Union
Australian Rugby sure needs to take a good hard look at itself. The results over the last few years on the International arena have been poor to say the least.

In 2006 the formally mighty Wallabies produced dismal results against some of the world's lower ranked northern hemisphere teams.

The new coach John Connolly, who took over from ousted Australian coach Edie Jones, has managed to reproduce the same dismal results by doing more of the same.

It was clear to many a fanatical Wallabies supporter that every time they had thrown the game away and bought on the reserves such as Matt Rogers the team lifted and actually started scoring.

Why the coaching staff never picked up on this is beyond belief after all trying the same thing time and time again and expecting a different result is surly a form of insanity.

The team always manages to play as poorly or as good as the opposition it faces. If they are playing teams like the All Blacks or South Africa it brings out the best and the result, while not always in favor of the Wallabies, are at least respectable. Putting the team up against less fearsome competition such as Ireland usually results in the Wallabies being dictated to and not following a game plan, other than to let the other team gain confidence and eventually take any self belief away from the team.

The Wallabies' past track record in the modern era of the game has been impressive. Competing in all five of the Rugby Union World Cups the team won the World Cup on two occasions, in 1991 and 1999 and lost in the final match in extra time to England in 2003.

Rugby union in Australia has always taken a back seat to its big cousin rugby league. This could have been broken when rugby league went through turmoil in the 90s when the opposite code started Super League. After this, Rugby League was fragmented and its supporter base was left reeling.

Why did the ARU not capitalize on this and invest in heavy campaigning to convert these valuable fans?

To think it can't be done was naive to say the least. One only need to look at the rise and rise of Australian Rules Football (AFL) in what was once a Rugby League strong hold state, Queensland.

So what is needed at the ARU to get the results it surly deserves?

1. Don't bring in a coach that has not produced results. The Queensland Reds finished a dismal 12th in the Super 14 competition in 2006 under the watch of Connolly. How could he do any better with the Wallabies?

2. Don't put players in unnatural positions. Let the player's natural game shine through by enabling them to do what they do best.

3. Practice as they play. All the Wallabies are currently being rested from Super 14 matches to save them for the 2007 World Cup and in the past they have trained at half pace to avoid injury. Practice as you play or you will invariably play as you practiced.

4. Take away the stigma that Rugby Union is for toffee nosed wimps. In New Zealand everybody plays union, rich, poor, black or white.

5. Get Rugby Union on free to air television. Even if it's delayed coverage.

6. Convert New Zealand supporters to Australian supporters. There are some 1 million New Zealanders living in Australia and I would bet the majority still follow their New Zealand teams.

The Wallabies play a great game when they believe in themselves, they just need the backing from the coaching staff, ARU and the Australian public and they can pull another Rugby World Cup out of the bag.
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  • Comment #1 (Posted by MickCashman)
    good points I have been trying to find out about every teams form prior to the world cup and if Oz are really that much in turmoil how would you rate the chances of a semi final place, winning seeming to be out of the equation. Looking at it realistically if the kiwis turn up with their a game the rest are playing for runner up. Heart can be taken from their habit of shooting themselves in the foot. Last time Australia big underdogs for the semis and we know the outcome lost it mentally. Good luck anyway
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