ARU hoping to be dragged back into good books on Lions' tail
Today the rains have returned but the spirit of Australian rugby has never recovered.
With the exception of Queensland, crowd numbers at Super Rugby franchises have collapsed. Rugby has failed to expand and grow at junior level, while AFL, soccer and Rugby League are booming.
The once intimate relationship between the community and “their” teams has widened to a gulf. Ticket prices are high and the quality of the rugby is low.
Dislocated administrations at both the ARU and the Waratahs have left the game in the economic powerhouse of Sydney in peril.
The rudderless ship is drifting close to some large, sharp rocks.
Yesterday at the ARU headquarters in Sydney, a newly appointed ARU CEO, Bill Pulver, took control. The challenges ahead are gigantic, yet the opportunities are massive. Rugby people dare to hope, just a little, once again.
Shallow talent pool
On the field, an unprecedented number of injuries led Deans to award 14 new caps and use a staggering 46 players last year. The positive is there will be more international experience available against the Lions.
However, this is not New Zealand or South Africa; while experience is up, the world-class talent pool remains shallow.
At times, despite the injuries, the Wallabies played with inspiring courage and commitment. Against a far more talented New Zealand XV, the Wallabies fought a courageous draw.
That night the team were simply magnificent.
That inspiring performance was executed without some of the talented and precious young Wallaby backs. Sadly, some of these players have developed the FIGJAM Syndrome, (F*** I’m Good Just Ask Me.) Repeated Alcohol-fuelled incidents that have included assaults, alleged theft and publicly urinating while wearing the Wallaby blazer, has led to loss of respect from the Australian public for the team.
The actions of the FIGJAMERS must be agonising for proud Wallabies like Pocock, Horwell, Palu, Barnes, Ashley-Copper, Moore, Genia, Polota-Nau, McCabe and Robinson.
Their blood must boil when their names are linked to the disrespectful behaviour of the few.
If the FIGJAMERS are ejected and the best 15 Wallaby players remain healthy, then the men in gold are not to be underestimated.
The Wallabies need a cause to stir the emotions of a competitive nation and provide an iconic challenge for a generation of players to restore pride in the famous gold jersey.
The ARU desperately require cash to power the sport.
The Lions provide Australia rugby with the opportunity to achieve both.
For Australia, the Lions tour starts today.