More rugby sagas to share…!

Dear Friends and Readers (not mutually exclusive),
Soon I will expand on my views about “The Robbie Deans Saga” as part of a historical revision of where Australian Rugby lost its campus. Where “entitled” men guided the Rugby Caravan through unchartered waters? What was done? And what was not done at that time?
I am not comparing myself as COACH with people who have in their rights earned the position just like me in 423 test matches played! It is only a coincidental parallel drawn between the collective lives of 4 individuals that have dedicated energies and time, one way or the other to the services of Australian Rugby and in my particular case to Argentine and Tahitian Rugby too … yes, that’s another Saga, where ‘entitled’ men guided the Australian Rugby Caravan through unchartered waters? What was done and what was left to be done in those times?
It amazes me that when I start reminiscing and re-telling FACTS and FIGURES from 10-15-20 years ago? When I do so, real rugby followers and educated people start nodding, incessantly as if I was taking off their blindfold of so many years. In Spanish, we say: “there is no worst blind man than the one that chooses or does not want to see”…

So this rugby trilogy will read as: “The Robbie Deans Saga (2008-2013) + The Ewen McKenzie Saga (2013-2014)+ The Michael Cheika Saga (22/10/2014 to date, 24 months)”. A merely (9) years for three coaches to undo the success of 15 years from 1984 to 1999 (Alan Jones, Bob Dwyer, Greg Smith, Rod Macqueen) when we used to dominate the opposition including the invincible All Blacks, need I remind you of Eden Park 1986? or the mesmerising victory of the 1999 semi-final at Twickenham (the unbelievable Campo’s over-the-head-memory-pass to Tim Horan???

Now, you may draw your conclusions because I’ve drawn mine already. I’d like to conclude that Australian Rugby Administration has been The Sleepy Smurf @ the management wheel. 

Professional rugby started in 1995, so since then 21 years of mismanagement have replaced common sense, and common wisdom by wasting hundreds of talented players, and dozens of coaches, I’d like to know if I could get hold of that figure? How much money has been spent by the ARU in the last 21 years? Can anyone with a brain for numbers help me in this OUTING OF MEDIOCRITY AND SUBSTANDARD PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES?

“The Topo Rodriguez Saga”

I’ve been asking the “hard questions for the last 21 years, but I get no answers? Is it because a lot of high profile people were and are still involved as Directors of ARU? Or is it that my manners are uncouth? Or is it that migrants are not supposed to investigate wrong doings? Either way, I have a lot of friends that do not dare ask these questions because that inefficiency mantel of Australian rugby seem to be so far reaching that is not funny and doesn’t make JAN happy!

I was the guest of the ARU a couple of times when Argentina played here; I enjoyed the well-earned hospitality dispensed to friends and me. Nonetheless, I do not have to relinquish my principles or park my values at the parking lot and become a blind acolyte to all and sundry because dinner and wine are served with silverware to my and my guest? I have paid for it in advance in the name of 100.000 scrums packed with Tom Lawton and Andy McIntyre and the other five amigos…

I said a couple, which is exactly (2)! Because many other times when I’ve taken my son Ignacio to watch test-rugby I’ve paid the exact nominal price of the ticket (3 months in advance on my credit card) no favours here as a Classic Wallaby (all other Classics had to pay too, me no exception, and quite often the seat location is either on Level 6 at Homebush Olympic Stadium or behind the goal posts!) So, what sort of game are we playing? HIDE AND SEEK OR FAVOUR THE CORPORATE DOLLAR?

OF COURSE, IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE “ANOINTED AND SELECTED” CLASSIC WALLABIES, the red or any other colour carpets are laid out for you and the bottomless bar, and the luxury smorgasboard is also laid out for you. In this corporate setting, you can do No Wrong even if you want to, been there and done that myself a few times!
So, if we look at the FAVOURS SCALE? I’d say I’ve done more favours to the ARU than the other way around. Since 1984 when Dick Marks was in charge of National Coaching Development, and I did not have a regular job then (just some casual cleaning, painting, etc.). Nonetheless, I used to be one of the regular Level I & II Scrum & Forwards Coach for the ARU and NSWRU, occasionally giving lectures and scrummaging practices in QLD too. Arthur McGill was the Manager at NSWRU first and then ARU where a lot of different activities were organised for the rugby community, NSW Country and City too. In those days the whole state was a lot more integrated with a truly National Direction and Strategy than today. Why did we stop doing it? I’d like to hear the truth about it? All of the sudden Australian Rugby, one of the smallest football codes, became EXCLUSIVE, INSULAR and damn amateur!

In 1997 I applied to the ARU to participate in the very exclusive and selective Level III Coaching Course? The ARU manager at the time reply to me was: “NO – Sorry, you can’t because you must be a Coach in a Club set up and you are not”! (I’m well aware that other ex-Wallabies and Senior Coaches were refused too (you’d say completely short-minded they were). Australia is one of the small countries in rugby that can not afford to turn people back.

Dead set, for the next 19 years I had to channel my energies and interest in rugby coaching through the writing of not one but (2) a couple of Scrum thesis already self-published without any endorsement or support from Australian Rugby.

However, in January 2016, thanks to the personal support of Nick Farr-Jones who interceded making some representations on my behalf with Bill Pulver and Neil Whittaker, I was finally accepted to complete this course this 2016 year. I am about 2/3 of it done! – At the end of October, we (a group of 30 applicants/students) are completing a four-day very very comprehensive and professionally run live-in-course.

In parting, I’d say blame no person, blame no era or a particular administration, I’ve noted above what in my view were and are ADMINISTRATION ABNORMALITIES, but the Australian Culture in Rugby lives on in an unsustainable manner. What to do? Time will tell. The powers to be must do something before they lose 50% of the supporting and ticket paying base! – So, in parting whether that is in for rugby or life, we must never stop persevering because
“We Only Fail When We Stop Trying”!

Enrique Edgardo Rodriguez Basi. TOPO

(All rights reserved 2016.10.13)

About toporod

Triple Rugby Union International (1977-1991) The ART of SCRUMMAGING - 2013 Gold Medal Winning Author - [IPPY] - 2014 Silver Medal Winner [eLit Awards] - Enthusiastic writer on Rugby and Bipolar Disorders - International Rugby Consultant and Public Speaker -
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1 Response to More rugby sagas to share…!

  1. tonyridnell says:

    Topo! Love this stuff. I just posted a couple myself you might be interested in.

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