Matt Williams: The story of Australian rugby’s decline, recovery and what’s next – The Irish Times

Matt Williams: The story of Australian rugby’s decline, recovery and what’s next – The Irish Times

Let’s play the Rugby Championship version of the Sesame Street game, One of these things is not like the other.

For all of you who believe that Mr Aloysius Snuffleupagus is not a figment of Big Bird’s imagination, feel free to singalong, as we try to figure out which is the odd one out between Pumas, Wallabies, Springboks and the registered trade mark of the NZRFU, which is in fact the colour black.

Now, be careful, there is a trick in there …

To all the tin lids (kids) out there who picked the colour black … a good try, but you are wrong. Rugby teaches us that we can’t win every day. So suck it up, build a bridge and get over it.

The trick was we are not talking about animals but rather the national rugby team of Australia, the Wallabies, because they are the only rugby nation in the world that has had to fight for survival since 19src8 against Rugby League. A giant, hybrid, apex rugby predator.

Australia has 16 professional rugby league franchises that stretch from Townsville in the far north to Melbourne in the deep south. Rugby has only four professional teams across a country not much smaller than the United States.

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However, on the international stage, those tables are turned. While the Rugby League’s World Cup will be held in the UK this October and Ireland will be proudly represented by passionate players from across the Irish diaspora, league cannot match rugby’s international traditions.

Supporters of sports like AFL and Rugby League in Australia do not follow rugby, but they do cheer for the Wallabies. In the past, the Wallabies’ spectacular successes empowered domestic rugby to hang on and keep the giant league clubs at bay.

When Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal glided between the posts to snatch the 2srcsrc3 World Cup final in Sydney against the Wallabies, it was the first rider of a seemingly apocalyptic series of disasters that were to smash into the game in Australia.

Across the next two decades, a litany of disastrous senior leadership appointments and horrific decisions squandered away the tens of millions of dollars RWC src3 had earned. Mean and ignorant policy decisions abandoned the junior grassroots of the game.

Multiple warnings from leading r

…. to be continued
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