Rugby Australia and the ‘F’ Word

The Wallabies have been thumped by Wales by 40-6 in the Rugby World Cup. To be honest, it really comes as no surprise. Ever since Rugby Australia sacked Israel Folau for expressing a personal religious opinion — which in the context of world history would have been totally uncontroversial until about five minutes ago — I have not been able to watch any of their games. Not. A. Single. Game.

And I am by no means alone. Most of the people I know have switched off, some even going for some other niche country. For example, amongst some buffs plucky Fiji seems more popular right now than  our national team.

David Campese—Australia’s greatest-ever rugby union try-scorer—tells the story of Russell Crowe coming into his Sydney in the early 2000s to buy a Wallabies jersey . Australian rugby was flying so high that Rusty exchanged one of the two original masks he wore in Gladiator for Campese’s signed 1991 World Cup jersey, the one he wore to beat the All Blacks, and the great All Black Jonah Lomu’s Test jersey.

What do you reckon the chances are of Hollywood movie star wanting to do something like that today? Yeah, pretty well Buckley’s and none.

What’s happened to us as a sporting nation? When I was growing up the Wallabies were living legends. They were role models the young ached to emulate. But at the moment you’d be hard pressed to find a kid who could name more than three players in the current team. As Jeff Messitt, secretary of the Bundaberg Waves Falcons Rugby Union club, was quoted as saying  back in 2021, “The grassroots are in a catastrophic state at the moment. Kids can’t name a current Wallaby … funny the only one that they know is Israel Folau. And he’s now gone.”

For me, the Folau disgrace was the tipping point that settled my decision to tune out and turn off. The way Rugby Australia dealt with the situation was appalling. They became so woke in the name of “tolerance” that everything was to be tolerated except for views deemed as being no longer en vogue.

In saying that, I realise the issue is much more complicated than simply what happened to an individual player. As David Campese explained in a podcast, The Breakdown, for The Australian:

I just think we just need to get the culture back. I think that‘s important. I think we’ve lost our culture, players have got no idea who we are, the kids have got no idea who we are, where we came from. I was taught that the only way to be the best is to aspire to win. It seems like the winning mentality has been lost. Mediocrity is accepted and normalised. 

If you talk about ‘winning’, people get offended and tell me it’s all about participation? How can you be the best with an attitude like this? We shouldn’t have to apologise for wanting to win and be the best.

Campese is obviously correct. A massive culture change is needed. And it has to start at the top of the organisation; Eddie Jones cannot be allowed to take all the blame. Alan Jones’ analysis over recent years of Australian rugby’s decline has been spot as can be seen here and here and here.

I reckon bringing back Folau would be a good start. At the very least it would make a powerful statement and, maybe, even win back the fans who, like me, have switched off. But sadly, they won’t do that for fear of alienating woke corporate sponsors and — shudder — being assailed and attacked on social media. The leftist paradigm of identity politics has become so ingrained that the sport’s administrators won’t recognise the obvious answer to what is in essence a cultural problem.

With every reason to expect the woke Wallabies will continue to wallow in their impotence and incompetence, maybe the time has come to buy a Wales jersey or a Fiji one


15 thoughts on “Rugby Australia and the ‘F’ Word

  • brandee says:

    Thank you Mark. Once again you have ‘powellised’ the woke. Certainly bring back Israel Folau to the Wallabies after they apologise to him.

  • Jack Brown says:

    Money corrupts. Well not money per se but the love of money and so many sports are about money in these times.

  • Lewis P Buckingham says:

    Speaking to a local club member his answer is ‘Just don’t get me started’,
    At least at the local level the game still survives, not so many schoolboy errors.
    It was notable when Panthers beat Storm a couple of weeks ago players from both teams joined together on the field in prayer and thanksgiving.
    Notably Panthers just won the national rugby league premiership for the third time,a modern record.
    Something to ponder for ARU.
    Maybe they need to go back to their roots, even if secular.
    As Aesop showed ‘Do not mistake the shadow for the substance’.

  • Daffy says:

    Perhaps the Australian team can get a participation trophy. That should please all.

  • regang says:

    Played Rugby all through school and after. There was a time when before a Wallabies international game, that my 10 year old son and I would stand up in our loungeroom when our national anthem was being played, because we had pride in the team that was representing our Country.

    As an 11 year old, my son had a Kiwi English teacher who wanted to teach the class the Haka. Being the proud Wallaby supporter he was, he refused participate and was the only one to sit out.

    My son is now 25 and he and I have not watched a Wallabies game together for many years – we won’t even spend the $10 per month for a STAN subscription to watch them.

  • Jock M. says:

    Unfortunately it is more than the woke that is destroying Rugby in Australia ; it is also the modern game itself.
    In the pursuit of the TV dollar,the people that have run the game since it turned professional have altered key laws i
    In regards to the breakdown and the line out ..
    There is barely a competition for possession and as a result the game is basically Rugby League on dope which is rather ironic because League broke away from Rugby over a hundred years ago.
    The Rugby that produced the Campisis and Ellas no longer exists as there is no space in the game where rather than compete for possession at the breakdown forwards retire to the back line and form an unbreachable defensive line.
    I was once a Rugby tragic but I now no longer watch the game.

  • Libertarian says:

    In my day rugby was played by private school boys who went on to be successful professionals in industry.

    Can’t have that can we.

    I also reckon the size and fitness of players increased to the point that new player’s mothers didn’t want their boys permanently injured and encouraged soccer instead.

    My brother played at high level schoolboy and permanently injured his shoulder.

    • Solo says:

      There is also a strong bent amongst modern mums to avoid head injuries/concussions. I’ve spoken to a few mums who are getting their children to play soccer instead to minimise potential concussion problems. It’ll be interesting to see how contact sports manage head impacts. I can’t see how they can, unless we all play touch from now on.

  • Jock M. says:

    I am not sure that players at the top level are any fitter or faster but they are certainly bigger because the game has more impact plays now (because it has become like unlimited tackle League).
    The game is an unmitigated disaster and the punters refuse to watch it ; they know something is amiss but I am unsure as to whether they know why.

  • Michael Evans says:

    I am a rugby tragic and it is a national tragedy to see the game floundering in Australia. The rot goes back to the early 2000s when complacency and stupidity joined hands with wokery to walk into the future. There is not a single Wallaby player today who would make a World XV.. A revolution is needed.

  • John Cook says:

    I grew up in an Aussie Rules state so rugby of either flavour was not a serious option.
    Most of us thought rugby was just a brawl.

  • Jock M. says:

    Rugby was once something special in its skill level but law changes have dumbed it down and in Australia with AFL especially it has little chance.
    People will not watch the rot.

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    Rugby went downhill after RA caved to the leprchaun and sacked Folau. Even his wife was considered bad medicine simply by association. The woke corporates do not realise that they alienate their clientelle in order to placate a vicious group who don’t buy their product anyway and who live on the taxpayer teat. When will they ever learn? Since RA disgracefully sacked the greatest winger they ever had I have been cheering their opponents.

    • Lawrie Ayres says:

      Reading some of the other comments about big men in a slugfest the magic of Folau made rugby interesting every time he got the ball. The half would kick and Israel would leap and score. Nowadays they just grunt a lot and attempt pushover tries. No flare at all. Thanks Joyce and woke RA.

  • David Inches says:

    Don’t buy a Wales jersey.
    They have banned the singing of “Delilah” because of woke concerns.

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