Rugby greats say game "dying" in Australia, call for urgent action

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/10/19 17:16:28

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) will hold a major summit aimed at reviewing its strategic approach to growth after a number of Australian rugby's greats urged the sport's governing body to step in and stop the game from "dying".

Former coaches of the national team, known as the Wallabies, Bob Dwyer and Alan Jones have signed a letter, alongside former playing greats Nick Farr-Jones, Simon Poidevin, Brett Papworth and at least a dozen other former Wallabies, urging the ARU to invest in the game which is in decline.

According to local media, the letter is yet to make its way to ARU chairman Cameron Clyne, but the organization has already taken action in response to the now-public plea from the Wallabies greats.

The letter said the "alarming" decline in grassroots participation would have devastating flow-on effects which could eventually kill the game in Australia.

"We would like you to consider very carefully what we have to say," the letter, obtained by News Corp on Wednesday, said.

"There are grave concerns with the rugby community that the continuing failure of the Australian Rugby Union to acknowledge and support the grassroots of the game will accelerate an already alarming decline in both participation and support of the game in Australia."

Brett Papworth, who played 16 Tests for the Wallabies in the 80s and 90s, has been a proponent of change for some time, and told News Corp the situation was dire.

"They have no long-term vision and we're under the hammer... the game is dying and blind Freddy can see it," he said on Wednesday.

The group is mainly concerned with how little the ARU spends on community and grassroots rugby union compared with other Australian sporting codes such as rugby league and Australian rules football.

Equally concerning is that other, smaller rugby nations are outspending the ARU on development programs.

"Not only does the ARU have the lowest percentage contribution compared to other national unions and domestic codes, it also provides the lowest total contribution compared to its peers, even Scotland," the letter said.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver disputed the claims of underspending but said the organization would be "delighted" to have the summit meeting to determine the future of Australian rugby union.

Posted in: RUGBY

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