ARU hoping to be dragged back into good books on Lions' tail
As Warren Gatland said, Australia is a great place to tour. Great hotels, great stadiums, great transport infrastructure, great beaches, great beer, great wine, great food and unlike Europe, the Australian government ditched austerity and pumped money into the community so the economy is great too.
Yep, it is all “great, mate”. So if it is all so great in Oz, why will Australian rugby be watching this Six Nations with a searing sense of desperation?
Australian rugby needs to beat the Lions more than the Lions need to beat Australia.
Robbie Deans’ staff will be pulling apart each Six Nations match with ferocious intensity. They will be compiling files on each player and the tracking the systems each Lions coach, like England assistant coach Andy Farrell, will use in the tournament. Searching for an Australian advantage and a potential Lions weakness.
The 2001 Lions tour was a watershed moment in Australian sport. The high-spirited Lions supporters that packed the stadiums across the nation caught the AFL and Rugby League-dominated media completely by surprise. From singing Viva Bris-Vegas on the trains in Queensland, to drinking Melbourne pubs dry (that would never happen in a rugby town like Sydney), to huge parties on Manly Beach.
The fun and passion the Lions brought to Australia made the competitive juices of the Australian sporting community boil. The response was the country united behind the Wallaby team like never before.
The Lions brought the power and cash of the global economy and it brought the might of the rugby world to the attention of the introspective AFL and Rugby League media. Australians could not get enough of it. The Wallaby trademark was on top of the Australian sporting world.
Today all that has changed. Rugby in Australia is in a dire position.
Charge and roar
The ARU are praying the Lions will once again charge and roar across Australia so they can grasp hold of its considerable tail and be dragged back into the Australian sporting public’s good books and get a few “quid” in the process.
Historically the Wallaby’s jersey unites Australia’s diverse football communities behind the one goal all Australians have in common. Beating New Zealand.
Today, even the iconic Bledisloe Cup fixtures, that once mesmerised the Nation, have been so over exploited they seem to happen more often than repeats of The Simpsons.
When the last Lions toured Australia in 2001, the eastern seaboard had entered a devastating drought that sucked the life out of the heartland’s red soil. That drought lasted a decade and an unexpected victim was the unifying spirit in Australian rugby.