#rugbyaustralia

Constructive dismissal?

CM’s view on the incompetence of Rugby Australia (RA) is well documented and reconfirmed by Alan Jones in The Australian today. It appears that Israel Folau looks more like a sacrifice to the altar of the sponsor god, Qantas.

Sponsorship money is important to sports teams but it should never get to a point where the sponsored has to make unconscionable decisions to acquiesce their paymasters. It is unethical.

CM has long held issues over Qantas’ flagrant use of shareholder capital to sponsor the CEO’s activism. It is terrible governance.

Remember the acceptance rings ahead of the same sex marriage debate that Qantas pushed so hard on us? The idea was to distribute these acceptance rings (not fully closed) to customers, clients and travellers.

CM supposed if someone were to politely decline to wear one they risked being be branded homophobic, bigoted and summarily ostracized for expressing such views. It might be that they actually support gay marriage but do not wish to express it openly. That is nothing more than a conscious choice, not categorical staunch opposition. Perhaps failure to wear the ring could cause their career takes a turn for the worse all because they don’t comply with group expression i.e. corporate slavery. The team leader who passes them over because they incorrectly assume the employee is a dissenter. That is palpable workplace bullying encouraged by a woke CEO.

What Jones points out is that the ‘wallaby court’ had already decided the outcome before a word was uttered in defence. It appears it was a ‘hearing’ conducted with the deaf.

RA CEO Raelene Castle apparently told Vanessa Hudson, chief customer officer at Qantas,

I updated her on the situation a day after the post and told her that, confidentially, Rugby AU would be working towards a process to terminate Mr Folau’s contract and that Ms Hudson can share that position with Qantas chief executive Mr Alan Joyce. Ms Hudson texted me later that day saying that she had only shared the update with Mr Joyce and he was appreciative of the transparency and he said that a speedy resolution by Rugby AU was paramount.”

This says a lot about Qantas. If it wants to exert control over RA it should acquire it and manage it as a subsidiary.

Yet where was the pushback by RA? It flaked. If it understood the dwindling fan numbers meant it wasn’t connecting to revenue, it might have thought defending Folau might have been its greatest coup and that many non virtue signaling corporates could replace Qantas’ sponsorship.

The culture of RA is self evident. It is not about rugby anymore but a platform for identity politics.No wonder fans are deserting it. CM discusses dwindling fan numbers yesterday, something Jones alluded to. Put simply, the product stinks and that rot permeates from the top. Fans aren’t stupid.

Coach Michael Cheika’s abysmal win/loss record is tolerated because he tows the line of the C-level cabal. So do some of the players who threatened to boycott the team if Folau was allowed to keep playing.What a joke! These virtue signaling players if given the choice to stand by their beliefs or keep their lucrative contracts would choose the latter every time. They sounded just like those Hollywoodcelebrities that threatened to leave America if Trump won the presidency.Hypocrites.

However it only reinforces the reality of the culture within the RA that encourages this type of numb skulled response to pander to the top. If these players wanted to think about faith in context of not selling out core beliefs they could learn muchfrom Israel Folau.

It increasingly looks like the high level breach has been committed by the board in cahoots with Qantas.

As CM mentioned yesterday, perhaps receivership is the best outcome for RA. That way the apparatchiks get cleared out and replaced by people that connect with fans who ultimately pay the keep the lights on at HQ. It isn’t that hard to fix RA’s problems but it will be impossible with a leadership team which seems to support constructive dismissal at the behest of corporates that champion activism rather than principle. Clearly Qantas is the mean “spirit of Australia”

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

Castle tackles inclusivity with exclusivity

The board of Rugby Australia (RA) has capitulated at the altar of political correctness. CEO Raelene Castle unconvincingly announced the reasons why Israel Folau’s contract has been terminated. This is a board that acted on external activism. It buckled. Castle squirmed around the question of whether sponsors had applied pressure or not. What Folau said was unnecessary but how is it other players can get arrested and get away with a written warning?

Ultimately, RA will feel the wrath at the ticket office from already disgruntled paying fans. Attendance continues to slide. RA losses are expected for 2019 following the losses in 2017. The 2018 profit was merely due to an exceptional item. Perhaps Folau’s termination will help plug the hole in the P&L. No wonder losses are being made, given the pitiful performances led by a man with the worst record of any Wallabies coach. Why is he still there?

Australia will be lucky to make it beyond the quarterfinals at the Rugby World Cup in Japan this year. Yet the CEO and board tolerate his woeful record. CM has long argued Michael Cheika can’t unite that team. His record proves it. His team rally behind him publicly but their faces tell a different story.

Castle is out of her depth. She might have cried inclusiveness but there was no conviction in the press conference. Inclusiveness, to many of those on the left, is limited to whatever they prescribe. Stray from the party line and get excluded. Her eyes said it all in the press conference – she is definitely no crisis manager.

Folau, on the other hand, didn’t accept a $1m buy off to walk away so RA could wash their hands of the matter. He stuck and continues to stick to his faith. Hopefully, he takes it all the way to the High Court to leave RA with more egg on its face.

Let’s be clear. Folau hasn’t called for violence against homosexuals. Yet why is it just that group that is singled out as victims? CM ticked a few boxes on his tweet. Surely CM’s right to feeling oppressed is just as valid on the faux outrage scale. Where are the drunkards, adulterers and fornicators calling for his head? Nowhere. With good reason. Because 99.9% of people probably rolled their eyes at the tweet and moved on.

Look at RA’s Male Champions of Change (MCC) program. This is the focus of RA and it is not rugby. RA’s website openly states the following,

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 on earth could have possessed RA to hire an activist as CEO? Castle also promotes on the RA website:

I have seen the challenges first hand and I have a personal passion to ensure that the gender equality discussion is at the forefront across all aspects of our society.

Quite frankly 99% of her customers couldn’t care less about RA’s stance on gender equality nor the group’s wish to drive it across society. They want to see good rugby. They d not see it as RA’s job to tell them how to behave. RA is answering questions nobody is asking.  If female coaches are better than the males, no male rugby supporter will care if the team is quite literally putting scores on the board. No one needs or wants RA’s activism which also extends to male domestic violence. How about female domestic violence against men? Take a look at the stats. Let’s just beat up on toxic masculinity because it is easier.

Where was the board when Wallabies flanker David Pocock encouraged school kids to join the climate strike or retweeted posts mocking climate skeptics? Is his climate activism ranked above Folau’s quoting of a religious text? Did RA do anything when Pocock was arrested for chaining himself to an excavator for 10 hours at the Maules Creek mine? He was charged with “trespass, remaining on enclosed land without lawful excuse and hindering the working of mining equipment.” Raelene Castle wasn’t CEO at the time but Cameron Clyne, Paul McLean and Ann Sherry were and still are board members. Where is the balance in sanctions handed out?

Let’s not forget the double standards of Pocock. He can find it in his heart to play for a team that is sponsored by Qantas which emits more carbon dioxide per passenger-kilometre than any other airline operating across the Pacific, according to an analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation. Oh, the irony that he also happily played for a team that was sponsored by gas-guzzling Land Rover SUVs. Nary a peep from the climate activist when it lines his pockets.

What will the other devout Christian Pacific Islanders do? Will they leave the Wallabies en masse? They’re good enough to find homes in other sides. The Japanese would welcome them.

If the RA board think they’ve reached a moral high ground in this decision they’re seriously mistaken. Trying to pay him off was the first big mistake because his faith trumped their expediency. They thought he was all bluster, just like the players who threatened to boycott the team if he remained. Folau wasn’t for sale.

CM has repeatedly said that Folau’s remarks in a public forum were unnecessary but defends his right to say them.

Castle’s decision is a perfect representation of the growing trend of allowing virtue signaling to infect a board which will spectacularly backfire. This is no different to Gillette, Colgate and other brands trying to do moral preening. People want the product. Start throwing lashings of political correctness and watch customers desert them. Footy Show anyone? Trying to be a ‘woke’ corporate is the closest thing to sleepwalking off a cliff.

Folau’s religious beliefs not for sale

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How pathetic is Rugby Australia’s (RA) “peace offering” to buy off Israel Folau for $1mn? Good on Folau for rejecting it. It only proves his religious beliefs aren’t for sale.

It is becoming more and more typical of boards to yield to trolls on social media which ends up in knee-jerk decisions that often end up backfiring. This week The Australian conducted a poll of c.27,000 people which showed 89% support for keeping Folau in the Wallabies team.

If RA’s board acted rationally, it could have simply made a public statement saying it deeply disapproved of what Folau wrote on Twitter yet his words are protected under the Constitution of Australia.

Instead, the board panicked and revealed its own shortcomings in dealing with the crisis. Management’s behaviour seems to have filtered down to the players too. Several Wallabies made comments suggesting they may boycott the team if Folau stays. It is almost guaranteed they won’t sacrifice their lucrative contracts to virtue signal. Pure vanity at its worst.

Why hasn’t the RA board removed the coach for poor real world performance? The board is there to build a team that can win. That’s what sells tickets and brings fans.  Coach Michael Cheika’s record is the worst of any Wallabies coach period. Yet he remains.

He has a 43% overall win record at the helm. With the All Blacks its 17%. England 13%. Ireland 20%.  Even Scotland is 50%.

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%

Maybe the board should consider Cheika’s actual performance rather than his views on Folau’s social media engagement. Clearly political correctness is a bigger priority at RA.

Please spare us the “inclusivity & diversity” babble. By explicitly trying to exclude Folau for his religious beliefs, RA clearly acts how it proclaims it does not. Furthermore to offer $1m shows that the RA has little case to answer for. Whatever ‘code of conduct or inclusion’ clauses in his contract may exist, they do not supersede the Constitution.

CM does not think highly of what Folau said but defends his right to say it.

RA’s board should be focused on what matters (winning)  rather than wasting countless time and money trying to restore their tarnished reputation to a tiny cabal of social justice warriors.