#wallabies

Rugby Australia chokes on its own incompetence

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After exchanging a politically correct, vomit-inducing and nose-bleedingly insincere prepared statement drafted by professional media consultants -not lost on anyone – the fact remains that Rugby Australia (RA) is the loser in the Israel Folau saga. We can forget the original source of the dismissal and the rights and wrongs of it. If RA thought it had a proper case, the legal fees (which it claimed were worth saving and settling out of court) would have been way less than the $10m payout he was demanding. So much for supporting the very communities the RA plasters all over its website.

The outcome was the result of management incompetence in thinking that appearing woke trumped legal due process. In full knowledge that Folau had a $1.6mn war chest (courtesy of Christians, free speech advocates and rugby fans alike) to take up the case against his former employer, the board was forced to buckle and issue an apology to the former rugby star, which would never have been necessary if it had a smidgen of judgment in the beginning.

RA CEO Raelene Castle can laugh off “wildly inaccurate” speculation on the $8mn rumoured settlement but the fact is the board knows the exact amount. Israel and Maria Folau wouldn’t have been grinning like Cheshire cats were he to have signed away for less than his rescinded contract. It will be fascinating to see the composition of the 2019/20 reported figures that will be published in due course. Expect some accounting trickery to fudge it into the numbers.

Castle said a few months back that the franchise could weather paying out Izzy Folau’s $10m claim. Although CM is not sure that paying out $10m + costs – which would wipe out almost 2/3rds of the $18mn in cash on the balance sheet – is something a CEO should think is worth boasting about. What she has long needed to focus on is arresting the declining operating performance. Yet she stated emphatically that the RA won’t have to make changes to the budget. Maybe her lawyers pieced together a multi-year drawdown of the sum to be paid to smooth out the ultimate impact. 

The RA franchise is the laughing stock of the rugby world. So transparent is the lack of accountability, woeful internal coordination and deteriorating financial results that it requires nothing more than a drastic overhaul if the entity is to thrive.

Former coach Michael Cheika let loose that it was no secret he had no relationship with the CEO and a very poor one with Chairman Cameron Clyne. This coming from the very individual running by far the biggest RA franchise. Despite possessing by far the worst performance record of any Wallabies coach, management persevered with a man who didn’t have a leg to stand on but cast aspersions on the executive team.

Therein lies the problem. RA can push all of the woke causes (e.g. LGBTQI+, gender equality) it likes, but if the ultimate end customer derives no value from it, it is a fruitless exercise which can’t escape the scrutiny of the free market come time to pay bills.

Castle may believe that this was a commercial decision for the sake of providing certainty. Had she done the right thing from the start she could have avoided getting embroiled in a scandal that has exposed the poor governance within.

Isn’t it odd that the LGBT activists are now attacking the very institution that set out to promote them – RA. CM has never thought much of his tweets but the reaction to them has been so over the top. The faux outrage mob finds oppression in everything.

Castle should resign and if she won’t the board should fire her despite her defiance against the bleeding obvious – she is in over her head. Fans won’t return with the status quo.

Get woke, go broke.

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.

Virtue Signaling Wallabies should look at their sponsors before lecturing the rest of us on climate change

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Wallabies flanker David Pocock, along with teammates Bernard Foley and Dane Haylett-Petty, have announced their partnership with a scheme that aims to compensate for the carbon emissions associated with travel. Woke.

Why aren’t they rushing straight to Wallabies CEO Raelene Castle and demanding that she jettison Qantas & Land Rover from the sponsorship list? Surely offsetting carbon emissions is best served by trying to get widespread media coverage to push legislation to ban petrol & diesel SUVs and restrict air travel.

Surely what better way to announce one’s true commitment to the climate emergency than refusing to endorse or play for a team where the very companies that violate the climate change movement’s goals are emblazoned on their sportswear? Sadly multi-million dollar contracts are clearly more important to these players to protect than saving the planet. Telling.

The Guardian noted, “musician Heidi Lenffer, from Australian band Cloud Control, launched FEAT. (Future Energy Artists), an initiative that would allow Australian musicians to invest in a solar farm in south-east Queensland…Lenffer was concerned about the carbon emissions generated by her group’s touring schedule and what she saw as her own contribution to the climate emergency.”

Notably, Lenffer had asked “climate scientists in the field, and connected with Dr Chris Dey from Areté Sustainability. Dey crunched the numbers for Cloud Control’s two-week tour, playing 15 clubs and theatres from Byron Bay to Perth…He found that it would produce about 28 tonnes of emissions.

28 tonnes of emissions in an Aussie context would equate to 0.00000509% of Australia’s emissions which are 0.00001345% of the earth’s atmosphere. So the global carbon footprint of her Byron to Perth tour would total 0.000000000068473%. Offsetting that will hardly be worth the efforts gone to working out the impact. None. She should double the scope of the tour and it would have no meaningful damage on the climate.

Carbon offsetting is such a wonderful idea. It essentially takes the form of commercialising hypocrisy. Effectively offsetting one’s emissions is like asking someone else to quit smoking on your behalf. How do you benefit? Don’t forget that Sir Elton John justified Meghan & Harry’s use of his private jet by offsetting on Carbon Offset which allowed him to technically pay for those emissions for the grand price of £8 return for the couple. Pocock’s trip to Japan would cost £38.70 return. That will be enough to pay for a sign to hang on the front of the FEAT solar plant.

Lenffer shouldn’t feel bad though. Climate alarmist, Bono of U2 once bragged that one of his global tours beat out The Rolling Stones in terms of trucks and 747s used to ferry all the equipment around because that’s how you measure a band’s popularity!

Maybe the players should strike in Japan and superglue themselves to a steel plant in Kobe. They best be careful, Japanese police can lock them up without charge for 21 days. They might risk missing the finals…surelythey wouldn’t want to put their careers behind their sanctimony.

If they still have pangs of guilt they can look up Extinction Rebellion’s guidelines for hypocrisy. Apparently it is justified in their view because they want the changes but have little choice but to consume in a fossil fuel world.

2/3rds of Rugby Australia cash would disappear

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Rugby Australia’s (RA) CEO Raelene Castle says that the franchise can weather paying out Izzy Folau’s $10m claim. Although CM is not sure that paying out $10m + costs which would wipe out almost 2/3rds of the $18mn in cash on the balance sheet is something a CEO would think is worth boasting. What she needs to focus on is the declining operating performance.

Hopefully, Chairman Clyne will get his CEO to focus on NZ Rugby (NZR) as a benchmark.

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.

Matchday 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.

Perhaps understanding why the Wallabies franchise saw a 20% fall in revenues in 2018 is a bigger issue. Expenses fell 15% mainly due to slashing Super Rugby team costs in half and player costs by 33%. Without that, the company would have sunk deep in the red.

RA needs to focus on growth not cut itself into oblivion. When it prioritizes its customer base rather than put precious resources into virtue signaling and diversity programs the board wouldn’t need to park 2/3rds of the cash to cover up their catastrophic lack of judgment.

Nonetheless good to know Castle sleeps easy at the thought of losing such magnitudes.

High Priest of Rugby Australia hits the nail on the head

If Rugby Australia (RA) Chairman Cameron Clyne had a decent product he wouldn’t need to worry about sponsors. Sponsors want brand exposure. That requires packed crowds following the Wallabies.

Some quick facts since 2014 vs 2018.

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

-Match day revenue -42.1% ($20.17m)

-Sponsorships -11.5% ($28.23m)

-Player contracts +3.2% ($16.79m)

– Licensing revenue -12.9% ($1.67m)

– RA has $18m in cash and equivalents as at 2019.

– RA made $5.87m net profit in 2018 on $119m of revenue but is expected to post a loss in 2019.

The SMH points to the very problems that RA has created for itself. To take the notion that “no” sponsors would want to be associated had they done nothing is absolute garbage. The Australian Christian Lobby might fill the Qantas void…

Does Clyne honestly believe that LGBT staff within RA may have sued it for not creating a safe and respectful environment had Folau not been shot? What a joke. If it is that easy to get a payout, CM would identify as such to ride that gravy train. How weak is the board to fold to this dross?

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? Wasn’t there a risk the climate skeptics inside RA might sue for the lack of a respectful environment?

Clyne also mentioned there was a risk of state and federal funding cuts if this wasn’t dealt with. In 2018, these grants totaled $3.5m out of total revenues of $119m. Less than 3%.

Once again if RA was run for the fans it would stand a far higher chance of not needing to fear its own shadow.

Alinta Energy sponsors Cricket Australia post the cheating scandal with the cheats still representing their country. Is cheating any better or worse than tweeting passages paraphrasing the Bible? The point is sponsors took advantage.

Here’s a suggestion. Put Folau back, sack Cheika based solely on (lack of) performance, drop Hooper, Foley and all the other publicly woke players to the bench, replace the board, CEO and chairman, call Qantas’ bluff and watch the fans flood back. A sponsor that is presented with an opportunity to back the team at its nadir will reap the benefits like Alinta.

NSW Chair pleads for a truce

Could it be that those who are fed up with political correctness have proved their pockets are way deeper than Rugby Australia (RA) ever imagined? For the Rugby NSW Chair Roger Davis to pipe up that, “the game is paying too high a price for RA to be proved right in this matter” speaks volumes. Sounds like fear that RA might lose.

The ACL suspended the Folau fund raising as it went over $2m in two days. Now he can comfortably fund an excellent team of silks to prosecute the case against RA. Plenty more ammunition behind that one imagines too. RA is outgunned unless Qantas intends to deploy shareholder capital?!?

Once again, this has moved way beyond Folau’s contractual dispute. People are fed up with the lecturing from the left. Regardless of whether one agrees with what he said or not or the GoFundMe stunt, the people have spoken with their wallets. They don’t want to have corporates tell them how or what to say or behavioral awareness officers at the games marshaling their stress outlets.

Rugby Australia’s problems started way before Folau’s tweets. The attendance and performance of the Wallabies stems from the incompetence at the top. The numbers are abysmal. The identity politics obsessed board which keeps a coach despite the worst track record in the team’s history. Australia will be lucky to make the play offs.

As David rightly said, It’s not about rights or wrongs now, it’s about pragmatics. I don’t think rugby should be defining freedom of religion rights or freedom of expression rights. I don’t think it’s our job,

Exactly. Which is why $2m was lined up to let RA know it should drop all of the gender and identity political garbage period and focus on who pays the bills – the fans.

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.