Tag Archives: World Sevens rugby

A New CEO at Rugby Australia

The annus horribilis at Rugby Australia culminates in current CEO, Bill Pulver, falling on his sword and a newly minted boss in Raelene Castle being named. From the outset, this caught the Australian rugby community off guard as a past player or rugby union minion was not elected. No NSWRU or QRU baggage to overcome or have to justify. Castle has worked for the past 4 years as the CEO of the Bulldogs Rugby League where she had to deal with the strong personality of Des Hassler, putting her in good stead for ‘handling’ the Wallabies coach, Michael Chieka. There were salary cap issues at the Bulldogs and Hassler was sacked after she had left, but it seems on the surface she did a good job. She also had 6 years before that as the head of Netball New Zealand building great relationships with other administrators, notwithstanding NZ Rugby boss Steve Tew.

If Rugby Australia had of picked Phil Kearns, then a business as usual mentality would have set in and the rot and coverups would have continued to permeate. Sydney’s North Shore brigade would retain its power base, leaving the rest of grassroots rugby to try and tread water unassisted.  This might have been where Eastwood President, Brett Papworth, may have been parachuted in, as he has had plenty to say about developing grassroots rugby (see here). Although, his health may have been of concern (more info). It was even believed that belated saviour of the Western Force rugby union, Andrew Forrest, could have even been given a nod, despite not having sports administration background (see IPRC).

So we turn to Ms Castle and her credentials certainly stack up as a competent administrator with high profile positions in various sporting landscapes. There will always be detractors out there, though, on a whole, it appears she has done a wonderful job. Also, she sees opportunities for both male and female athletes to develop with international opportunities not found in AFL or NRL. My question, however, turns to the fact that she is a New Zealander and an avowed supporter of the All Blacks, “There wouldn’t be a Wallabies-All Blacks Test match that I have missed in the last 35 years, unless I was travelling.” When every fibre in the collective conscious of rugby aficionados in the Australian rugby community focussed on regaining the Bledisloe Cup, would getting into bed with the ‘enemy’ be seen as a positive step? The overall attitude of the rugby leader is, of course, to build relationships and seek to increase participation in our game (that they play in heaven). Grow the grassroots and plant the seeds for Wallaby success. But, the end goal for young aspirants is to see a successful progression and ultimately an all-conquering Wallabies outfit with at least a Bledisloe Cup in the cabinet, then there may be a conflict of interest.

I hope I am wrong, though the Robbie Deans saga was arguably a mistake. Rugby followers are passionate beasts and any chink in the armour at the top is not looked on too fondly. Pulver has had some great initiatives for Australian rugby, especially in developing women’s rugby, but regrettably botched the handling of the Western Force in Super Rugby with a complete coverup and will forever hang his head in shame. Not since John O’Neill has Australian had a rugby boss of pedigree and after Ms Castle has sorted out New Zealand Rugby League’s failure at the RL World Cup she can attend to our rugby woes. Hopefully, she does not see this appointment as a stepping stone to take Steve Tew’s position as the head of New Zealand Rugby, because, with the announcement to apply for the Women’s World Cup in 2021 and the Men’s in 2027, we need someone here for the long haul.

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HSBC WORLD SEVENS GOLD COAST Day 1

IMG_0110The first round of this season’s World Sevens rugby junket 2013/14 started at 10:30am on the beautiful Gold Coast with New Zealand playing USA in their Pool A match. The Kiwis were victorious over the Americans 38-0. This was followed up by the ever improving Kenyans, with a huge supporter base, smashing the Tongans also by 38-0. With a rain shower threatening, the action was boiling over on the field. And when the Aussies squandered a 21-0 lead over Scotland to draw their match, upsets were looking like a strong possibility.

I was with a nervous Australia 7s coach, Michael O’Conner, watching Samoa playing an impressive Scottish outfit. The latter almost forced another draw, however the Samoans were not giving up easily and managed a 19-12 win. O’Conner said, “We just have to win our next two matches to top our pool.”

Australia then accounted for Argentina 22-7 in the following match with their eyes firmly focussed on the 7:46pm match with Samoa. In the meantime New Zealand was progressing through nicely, easily beating Tonga 26-0 and defeating Kenya 31-0 in the twilight to top Pool A. Last year’s champions, Fiji, were looking alright until they lost to Wales in their last Pool C match 19-22 to Wales. Since Wales had lost 17-24 against Canada earlier in the day the top three teams all finished on 7 points. On count back Fiji topped Pool C.

South Africa had an impressive first day defeating France 29-5, Spain 38-7 and a strong England side 22-14. They topped Pool B and will play Wales tomorrow in the Cup quarter final, with England placed second in Pool B they will have to face Fiji in the quarters.

The Aussies played some of the best rugby I have seen them play to defeat Samoa 12-0 nil in the final match of Day 1. Thereby topping Pool D, which sets them up for a quarter final with Kenya tomorrow at 12:42pm –just like last year when they beat eventual champions Fiji in their last pool match. With Samoa coming second in Pool D, they will have to play the Kiwis at noon in their quarter final.

Basically going to form, Sunday’s action is going to be a mouth-watering feast of 7s rugby. If you are still without a ticket there are a few available at the gate so come on down.