All Blacks

I have no relationship with the CEO & not much with the chairman

Doesn’t this speak volumes? As Australian Wallabies coach Michael Cheika announced his resignation he let loose that it was no secret he had no relationship with the CEO Raelene Castle and a very poor one with Chairman Cameron Clyne.

How could it be that top management had no rapport with one of the most senior line managers of the flagship product? Is it any wonder the Folau debacle got to where it is? Incompetence reigns supreme.

For a leadership team that bangs on incessantly about inclusion, diversity and cohesion, Cheika’s remarks show how loose the grip was on the very people that needed to be the flashing beacon of the very institution Rugby Australia (RA) proclaims it instills. Where was the partnership?

Time for rebirth. The fans just want a winning team and to achieve that communication between the upper echelons of management and staff is key. As it stands it isn’t hard to fathom that there is next to zero at present. Hence why RA’s results (financial and game) are as abysmal as they are

For Cheika to launch a parting shot of that kind doesn’t smack of professionalism but at the same time it is probably the most truthful expose of the inner workings of the RA cabal.

Toxic employees are bad for any business. In most cases the resentment in the ranks coming from management’s tolerance of people who let poison fester within the workplace only worsens performance of the core. Eventually political cunning gives way to results that doesn’t match the bluster. The question is whether RA can be exorcised quickly enough to enable a proper healing? Given the insistence on being woke, that looks unlikely.

The values RA uphold may seem wonderfully progressive in theory but surely as a body seeking to uphold the pinnacle of sports and sportsmanship it should strive to understand where the future lies for the franchise. It isn’t yearning for diversity or participation prizes. Best look across the ditch for inspiration as to why the All Blacks are so strong. Just read their objective #1: to stay on top of the world. CM guesses NZ coach Steve Hansen has a wonderful bond with his board. You can’t fool kids who lose 100-0 that they played well either. Best start with grass roots that embody the spirit of competition. Embrace it. Then watch the fans flock back to the game.

Time we Cheiked out, DeClyned and binned the deflated Castle

The truculence of Australian Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s is infamous. While he has never shied away from roughing up journalists at media press conferences (like a coach who might have an enviable win record) he couldn’t take a question on his future (around the 3-minute mark in the video). As if he wasn’t going to be asked such a question? His preparation was worse than that of the Wallabies. Cheika said, “Find a little compassion for people that are hurting!” Really? Feel sympathy for a bully? Harden up, snowflake!

Watching the Wallabies last night showed a team with little cohesion and the all too common inability to execute. Is it any wonder fans have grown disinterested. The stats speak to the disaster.

The Wallabies had 64% of possession (68% in 2H) and 62% of the territory (66% in 2H) yet conceded 18 turnovers to England’s 8. England made 172 tackles vs our 73. Clearly, when England had the ball they managed to execute, hence four tries (including two embarrassing intercepts) to one. Dismal.

Post the Rugby World Cup 2019, Cheika has a 50% overall win record. With the All Blacks, it was 17%. England @ 13%. Ireland @ 20%. Even Scotland was @ 50%. Other Wallabies coaches had the following win ratios:

Bob Dwyer – 64% win record

Alan Jones – 68%

Greg Smith – 63%

Rod Macqueen – 79%

Eddie Jones – 58%

John Connolly- 59%

Robbie Deans – 58%

Ewen Mackenzie- 50%

However, the problem in CM’s view isn’t the quality or talent of the players. Far from it. It is the management off the field. Aussie rugby is being systematically destroyed. CM has written before about the falling attendance and drifting profitability. Fans are clearly well and truly tired of the excuses.

It shouldn’t surprise us when Rugby Australia (RA) & NZ Rugby (NZR) reveal primary objectives. It shouldn’t surprise us when RA & NZR reveal primary objectives.

Objective 1 in the NZR 2018 Annual Report is “REMAINING ON TOP OF THE WORLD” (p.18)

Objective 1 in RA’s 2018 Annual Report is written as, “For rugby to continue to be a sport of choice in a rapidly changing society…community coaches are responsible…for creating fun, safe and inclusive environments” (p.10).

Between 2014 vs 2018, RA had the following statistics:

-Wallabies team costs (coach, support etc) +70% ($9.97m)

-Matchday revenue -42.1% ($20.17m)

-Sponsorships -11.5% ($28.23m)

-Player contracts +3.2% ($16.79m)

– Licensing revenue -12.9% ($1.67m)

Has the board reflected on what might be the problem?

It smacks of similar issues that plagued Cricket Australia (CA) leading into the cheating scandal. A culture that thought it was untouchable. The arrogance that they knew better. CA has finally had a cathartic cleansing at the board and coaching level. Results are now starting to show.

If RA wants a new coach, they’d be better off looking to one which promotes fluidity and allows improvisation. The problem with set plays is that it requires the opposition to fall into the trap the attacking team want to set. Simplicity is key.

This video of Coach Brian Clough is a great story of how one man built a team and took it from the bottom of 2nd division to the top of the Premier League. He won two European championships too. Listen to how his players had such great respect for Clough (from the 37th minute).

The three C’s of RA need to go – Chairman Clyne, CEO Castle and Coach Cheika.

NZ Rugby vs Rugby Australia – the franchise stats

Well, well, we’ll. Who’d a thunk? NZ Rugby (NZR) is focused on the game, not appearing to be woke. Is it any wonder Australia are unlikely to win the Bledisloe Cup for many more years to come. The investment NZR pour into the All Blacks swamps Rugby Australia’s (RA) pittance into the Wallabies because sponsors and fans see the Kiwi franchise for what it is – a united team of winners with returns!

It shouldn’t surprise us when RA & NZR reveal primary objectives.

Objective 1 in the NZR 2018 Annual Report is “REMAINING ON TOP OF THE WORLD” (p.18)

Objective 1 in RA’s 2018 Annual Report is written as, “For rugby to continue to be a sport of choice in a rapidly changing society…community coaches are responsible…for creating fun, safe and inclusive environments” (p.10).

With that RA mantra, NZR is faced with a longer term dilemma. Because the fans might have to consider they might “get tired of all this winning!”

In all seriousness, NZR should seek to form a new version of the Bledisloe with a worthy adversary in Europe because the Wallabies will drift even further away from being competitive with RA focused on such utter malarkey.

Or to even it up, perhaps the All Blacks under-18s should play the Wallabies?

So why the gap? The numbers between the two are as follows.

RA took in approximately A$30m in licensing and sponsorship last year. NZR raked in A$65m. More than double for a country with one-fifth the population. Think about it. The advertising base is smaller yet the sponsors must see the returns as superior to do so.

Total revenues for RA sum to around A$110m. NZR takes in A$182m in 2018.

Match day revenue for RA reached A$20m last year. NZR collected A$28m.

Total assets for RA sum to A$69m. NZR total assets are A$183m. Total equity for RA is A$27m vs NZR at $99m.

Just looking at financial metrics alone, RA is not going to rebuild this franchise without focusing on what NZ already knows. The business has one sole focus – the pride of a nation.

Should we be surprised that Eden Park has been sold out every game since 1962 when the All Blacks play the Wallabies? That’s a franchise. Maybe RA should ask why Australian based attendance of the same series has drifted 20-35% in the last decade.

Until the Wallabies have a priority that focuses on a winning formula that is driven from the top, expect to see turnstiles become rusty.

Pathetic really. This is exactly why the RA board and leadership need a complete overhaul. Amateurs playing against professionals. Get woke. Go broke.

Industry gets the management it deserves

What did the Rugby Australia (RA) board expect from Israel Folau? That he’d crawl away into obscurity? CM has long held the RA’s handling of this affair has been about as good as the Wallabies on-field performance under Michael Cheika, the coach with the worst record in the history of the team.

Industry gets the management it deserves. Bad outcomes come from poor decisions at the top. RA CEO Raelene Castle’s performance in this affair has revealed she has no crisis management credentials. If Folau ends up bankrupting RA then management didn’t weigh the risks properly when they terminated him for a supposed “high-level breach”.

Recall RA tried to buy Israel Folau off with a $1m shut-up cheque but his religious beliefs weren’t for sale. Folau reached out to former Wallaby and fellow devout Christian, Nick Farr-Jones, who concluded after an intense grilling that his faith was authentic. Did the board take into account NF-J’s testimony? 

The RA’s decision smacks of the spineless virtue signalling that pervades our corporates today. It folds at the first sign of social media activist pressure. It might bang on about “inclusivity” but it practices exclusivity. One wonders if a player from another religion tweeted “apostasy is death” the board would have sung an entirely different tune. It would have said, “we respect all views.

Then we saw the hypocrisy of NRL Chairman Peter Beattie who spoke of the importance of inclusion and freedom of speech (when it comes to players protesting the national anthem) despite affirming that Folau would never play rugby league. So which is it? Whose freedom of speech is free? Beattie even argued that the Folau Twitter post still remained up. If he took it down would the NRL sign him up? Not a chance.

As CM wrote in the last dispatch, RA’s #1 priority does not appear to be rugby. The website is flush with identity politics. Such as this:

MCC works with influential leaders and encourages them to take action towards gender equality. 

Rugby Australia is a proud supporter of MCC and our Chief Executive Raelene Castle has recently been appointed as a Special Advisor on the MCC Sport program. 

This program aims to enhance the involvement of women in all aspects of sport and works with key stakeholders to achieve pay equity.

What has this got to do with managing the Wallabies franchise? Too much focus on irrelevant things that will not turn around the continual losses in the business because the key ingredient that generates revenue – a winning team is second fiddle.

RA folded at the foot of the sponsor, Qantas. A sponsor has the rights to be represented in certain ways but how little confidence must RA have in its ability to attract new backers? Cricket Australia snagged Alinta Energy after the ball-tampering scenario. CM reckons the Adani Wallabies has a nice ring to it.

RA is not run for its fans. Player David Pocock was arrested and charged for chaining himself to a piece of heavy equipment but Folau was fired for quoting a passage from the Bible.

It is quite likely that Folau’s bid in the High Court will succeed. Our constitution enshrines free speech. Whether we like what he said or not is irrelevant. We either support it or we don’t.

Maybe RA needs a total clean out? Perhaps sending in the receivers would see the appointment of someone who loves the game and reconnects with the fans, not waste time trying to enforce identity politics on them.  RA was set up for one purpose. To win.

Why not look at the yardstick of attendance? Why is it since 1962, Eden Park in Auckland is always at full capacity when the beloved All Blacks play? Because the team is so dominant. Why is attendance at Stadium Australia at 65~80% of available seats when it used to be 100% in 2002-2009? Why have Super Rugby attendance figures slumped t to around 11,000 per game vs 35,000 for Aussie Rules and 15,000 for NRL? Even A-League soccer gets average game attendances of 12,500. There is a message here RA. You are not connecting with the flock.

Perhaps Izzy Folau is reciting in prayer for the fans;

For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Those bloody racist Aussies

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Aussies. We love backing underdogs and relish in self-deprecating humour. Being put down in Australian culture is generally regarded as a compliment. Yet when we see bad behaviour, Aussies generally have no issues calling it as they see it.

We care little if we offend those perpetrating crimes. Take our national cricket team where several members were caught cheating in Sth Africa. The backlash was immense. We’d rather lose than cheat as a nation although it maybe the only solution left to wrest back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks after 16 years…..

Of course the satire of Mark Knight’s cartoon about Serena Williams’ temper tantrum got the activists riled up over supposed racist overtones. How quickly CBS made reference to a “white” cartoonist. If he’d been black and drawn the identical cartoon, would that have made it better? Why no complaints at all the other caricatures of Williams? That’s right – not a peep.

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That’s how the victim industry operates – find a narrative and then build concocted evidence to support it. Certain people might owe Knight a debt of gratitude.

Take this example. Author Leslie Honore   gladly used the viral nature of the cartoon to overtly plug her own book. This technically dilutes the nature of supposedly being 100% for the sisterhood in Serena’s corner, does it not? Makes for a great marketing tool though!! Surprised the author didn’t offer a free set of steak knives if bought within 20 minutes. True colours indeed.

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As for Aussies being racist, what will be evident when Naomi Osaka walks on court at the Australian Open in Round 1 is that everyone will cheer her. Not to apologise for the cartoon’s supposed misportrayal of her looks nor to make up for the appalling crowd display in New York but to honour a true bonafide sportswoman. We love everything about her. How could we not?

In all of the controversy surrounding the US Open final Naomi Osaka has oozed class with her sweet, bubbly but calm demeanor. Instead of apparatchiks demanding an open apology to Serena for sexism, equality and racism not once did any of them think to mention Osaka’s restraint or authenticity throughout the “me, me, me” nature of the saga. It was all about the champ! Williams’ prior tantrums were conveniently forgotten. Don’t forget Serena openly threatened Umpire Ramos that the thief would never be allowed again on ‘her court!’ So in that vein, Osaka was not an equal. She was privileged to stand across the net from the Queen.

Sure the racquet smasher with a coach who openly admitted he cheated is worthy of an apology. We should be proud to have the morals of such a role model drummed into kids. If little Johnny or Veronica don’t throw tantrums while representing their school we should put them straight in front of the counselor to work out why they haven’t been triggered. Don’t even start with the 9-yo brat refusing to stand for the Australian national anthem. Thanks Kaep!

If we judge the 23 grand slams and 10s of millions every year in endorsements and prize money for Serena , the global tennis apparatus has done a dismal job trying to beat her into submission if that is truly the claim. She’s got away with murder with her antics for years.

Throughout all Nike must have minted her name over the years as all these racists lined up to buy her clothes. Surprised the loonies haven’t called for cultural appropriation of white kids who wear Serena branded tennis clothing.

Maybe the lesson for Williams here is that playing against someone almost half her age that can blast 200km/h serves can teach her a thing or two about being a truly great champ in all aspects.

Poor old Naomi Osaka must be thinking the woman she once idolized is nothing like the person on the TV she thought she knew. Don’t worry Naomi, we wouldn’t want you to change anything about you!

Even if you don’t end up breaking all the records what better advocate for the game of tennis to have you as a global ambassador than a dummy spitting, venomous prima donna failing to cope with being dethroned. May there be many more kids who aspire to your level of maturity.

As an Aussie, CM speaks on behalf of many here who would openly say “we love you”. You can’t get here soon enough!

Cheikmate

Australian Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is clearly massively under pressure. Sporting the second worst win/loss record of any Australian rugby coach he hit out at journalists questioning whether it is time to pack it in by suggesting they take mental disorder suppressing “pills” for exposing his dreadful stats. His team was walloped by New Zealand 40-12. The All Blacks retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 16th straight year.

Cheika talked of “passion” for the job but a great coach is one that extracts the best from the players by making them believe in themselves and achieve well beyond what they think they can. Australia need a Brian Clough type coach rather than the thuggish style of Cheika. Basic discipline is lacking in the Aussie team and that stems from the top. A coach that was confident in his ability to attain quality results wouldn’t resort to cheap shots. He’d merely let the scoreboard do the talking. Instead he shows the pressure is too much for him.  This press conference (especially from 5:30) confirms he is not right for the role. Time to replace him.

CM has made the argument multiple times – if money was taken away from the game all current All Blacks would still play proudly for their country. For the Aussies it is likely only a handful that might feel the same. Cheika is not building a team steeped in history, but making excuses for his dreadful deficiencies. He may accuse journalists of being clueless by stating they’ve never coached before, but should he possess an enviable success ratio the press wouldn’t ask for reasons why the Wallabies were road kill.

Cheikmate- time to go gracefully. The fans aren’t buying it.

Wider World created by Warner

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To be honest my elder brother sounded more sincere when he apologized in front of my parents after smashing my orthodontic brace-filled mouth 35 years ago. Dave Warner’s media appearance showed next to no contrition. Sure there were tears. References to the stress on his family and how he’d be lost without them. Indeed, had he considered his family before deciding to cheat then he’d never have to run a rearguard action to protect them. That doesn’t condone the actions of social media thuggery on family members but there was absolutely no surprise in the fast pace bouncers peppered at him from the press gallery, all of which he dodged with the same insincerity for someone whom apparently “only ever wanted to bring glory to my country!” Strange way of showing it.

At least in Steve Smith’s case he projected absolute authenticity in his admission of failure. Bancroft was just a startled bunny in the headlights. Warner seemed to be begging for forgiveness in that at some point might allow resumption to expand his property empire in Maroubra than pleading to restore the lost glory back into the ‘game.’

Warner typifies the ‘win at all costs’ mentality cultivated from the top of Cricket Australia. It isn’t just his two teammates that have worn this failure of leadership. Magellan has already pulled $20m in sponsorship, countless others will follow and the upper hand in negotiations over broadcast rights has all but vanished. That means that Cricket Australia will have $100s of millions less in the kitty to pay players, develop kids at tender ages to sustain the game in the future and draw crowds. Less for facilities, less for promotion, less for match bonuses. Less, less, less. Cricket Australia needs a total overhaul too.

Cricket to Aussies is like Rugby Union to Kiwis. It is on another level to other sports. Our hall of fame includes the likes of Bradman, Spofforth, Trumper, Woodful, McCabe, Morris, Simpson, Border, Waugh, Ponting, Taylor, McGrath, Warne…the list goes on. Were Buck Shelford, Sean Fitzpatrick, Jonah Lomu or Richie McCaw found guilty of bringing the All Blacks side into disrepute through blatant tampering they’d be publicly hung, drawn and quartered with their heads tossed into the mud pools of Rotarua. The New Zealand media would not be calling on people to give any cheater a ‘fair go.’ That is the irony. Most of these elite sportsmen have had way more than a fair go but it wasn’t enough. Otherwise there was no reason to cheat.

Some in the Aussie media now cry out for leniency. They made a mistake, apologized…all lessons learnt. Then again it isn’t any surprise that the media is also short on ethics much of the time. Go back to bed like it was just a bad dream. Talk about being ‘role models’ for kids?!? Most Aussie fans won’t view it that way. Talks of two years in the penalty box and then Steve Smith can resume the captaincy shows how shallow the thinking is. While he may have shown himself to be a sincere individual he most certainly proved he has no place leading the team ever again. He should refuse to take it on if he ever plays again.

One has to question whether the bowlers knew something was up. It is not a question of being complicit in the crime rather a fast bowler spends 6 minutes every over staring at the ball in his walk back to his mark, polishing one side on his trousers, checking the condition of the rough side to consider what type of delivery to bowl. Every. Single. Ball. A bowler usually has 5 to 6 overs a spell so at least half an hour to study the curious round object in his hands. Bat strikes leave particular types of marks as does the pitch and fence. So a sandpaper mark should look rather ‘manufactured.’ Certainly surprising that this would go unnoticed.

In any event, this is not the last we’ve heard form this fall out. Warner should never be able to play for Australia again. He neither represents the country, takes pride in the honour of donning a ‘baggy green’ and most certainly has a very weird way of bringing glory to his country. The only one that matters for Warner is himself.