Demand the government force reform on Australian rugby

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The decision of the Australian Rugby Union to cut a team from the Super Rugby competition highlights the failures of the current governance structure of Australian rugby to properly administer the sport. This cut ultimately results from the decision in 2015 to expand the competition to 18 teams, and adopt a new format, that was criticised at the time.

However, since the sport has become professional in 1996, Australian rugby has seen:

* Constant under investment in "grass roots" rugby, being at the junior, school and development levels, and undue focus on the "high performance" levels.

* Lack of reform at the corporate governance level, with constant complaints from stakeholders at various levels of a lack of responsiveness, servicing of needs, or proper representation. The sport has continued to be seen as a "closed shop" governed by a few for a few.

* The frittering away on operational losses of a multi million dollar profit from the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Australian football (soccer) had many of the same problems, and only started resolving them after reform was forced on the sport with the Crawford Report produced by the Independent Soccer Review Committee in 2003. This only occurred, under protest, because the Federal government, which provided extensive funding and support to soccer (as it does to most sports), demanded it.

Australian rugby, which also receives extensive funding from the Federal government (and states), requires the same. Many rugby fans, supporters, participants and stakeholders feel unable to achieve any meaningful change within the sport.  Through their elected representatives in the Australian federal government, however, they can.

The Federal Minister for Sport and the Australian Sports Commission should require an Independent Rugby Union Review Committee in similar terms to that for soccer that produced the Crawford Report, or rugby will continue to decline as a sport in this country while it continues to thrive internationally.



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