Rugby men of a certain age need a major attitude update on women
ANALYSIS:I doubted a woman could enter the ‘pointy end’ of rugby with credibility. I was wrong
Brian O’Driscoll and David Campese are the two best players I have ever coached. David’s place in the pantheon of the game’s greatest is assured.
Recently David is more renowned for his controversial comments than for his genius as a player.
Last week his tweet questioning why the Sydney Morning Herald recently appointed a female reporter, Georgina Robinson, to cover rugby, made headlines around the rugby world.
Campo felt Georgina, as a woman, did not understand the issues regarding the Wallaby coach, Robbie Deans. He wrongly attacked her on gender, not on opinion.
This pushed me into examining my own attitudes towards women in rugby.
As a starting point, any appointment should be made on a person’s competency for the task, not gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion or political persuasion.
The great Wallaby player and coach, Dave Brockhoff, would always ask if you were “rugby-worthy?” In “Brock speak,” that meant, do you have the character, competencies and love of the game to be part of the great tradition? On the point of “rugby-worthy” competencies, I have to admit, I also questioned the appointment of Georgina Robinson. I questioned how someone who has never been in a tackle or caught on the bottom of a ruck, and a myriad of other aspects, could report with credibility on rugby.
I also asked, were there not other male journalists with better rugby competencies for the position? I was fearful Georgina’s was a hollow “positive discrimination” appointment.
The Herald rugby correspondent is of exceptional importance to Australian rugby. For many years the rugby correspondent for the Herald was Greg Growden. He took voluntary redundancy a few months ago. I was delighted.
His unending negativity and, in particular, an almost pathological negativity towards all aspects of the Waratahs, made the environment for rugby in Sydney, to quote Quade Cooper, “toxic”.
As AFL and league forged ahead in Sydney, many in the rugby community felt the Herald was very gentle on the leading officials’ lack of action on trying to grow the grassroots of the game. While the Sydney grade competition standards dropped drastically and the populous west of Sydney remained a rugby wasteland, the Herald was almost silent.
His leaving filled me with great hope for Michael Cheika’s era at the Waratahs. Perhaps now the media environment would not be as venomous and the Sydney public would cease to be fed a constant diet of negativity.
So the appointment of Georgina Robinson raised a lot of eyebrows.
I have never met Georgina, but since her appointment the reporting has been accurate and balanced. There is no “cheerleading” but there is refreshing positivity and a direct quality to her writing.