By Jodan Perry
Former Wallaby great Mark Ella has unloaded on rugby union administrators, blaming a lack of leadership and unwillingness to learn from New Zealand’s dominance as local rugby endures a difficult period.
The Wallabies have won fewer than half of their Tests since the 2015 World Cup final loss, and this Super Rugby season Australian teams have won none of their 25 games against New Zealand teams.
These statistics do not sit well with Ella, who says the blame lies with the game’s leaders.
“They’re inept, they have sat back for so long without doing anything,” he told ABC News.
“It looks like our administrators have been hiding all this time. It’s just a joke.”
Ella played 25 times for the green and gold in the early 1980s and has been a keen follower of the game since. But after a couple of miserable years for our professional teams he said he was fed up with the way the game was being run in this country.
“Why do we have to get to rock bottom before they realise, ‘Oh, gee whizz, maybe New Zealand’s dominating because they have a centralised system that they do and everything is co-ordinated’,” he said.
The All Blacks have benefitted from the collaborative approach where the national team is the focus, rather than individual franchises worrying about their own backyard.
It is a mechanism new Australian Rugby Union coaching developer Rod Kafer hopes to develop in the next year.
“It’s going to happen. When there’s … the concept of self interest, when there’s opportunity and there’s something in it for that person, I think they will really see the values,” Kafer said.
With the axe set to fall on either the Melbourne Rebels or Western Force, Kafer said one fewer team may lead to a better Super Rugby competition.
“As the demand diminishes we will see an improvement in performance so what we should get is some of our good coaches striving to become better so that they may maintain those roles,” he said.
Unity of purpose the key, says Kafer
In the new role, Kafer wants to make sure he is doing everything he can off the field so the results show on it.
“Clearly we haven’t won enough,” he said.
“Every day that I walk into St Leonards [ARU headquarters] here and every opportunity I get, I will be thinking, ‘What can I do today to get us a better opportunity to win’.”
By September, Kafer hopes to establish a National Coaching Advisory Panel, that will collaborate and plan the best way forward to bring Australian Rugby out of its current slump.
Central to this is the need to create a distinctive Australian identity in the game.
“We need to establish in Australia a concept of a unity of purpose,” he said.
“What is it that we are about? What it is that when somebody looks at an Australian team play they can immediately identify? Because at the moment, I don’t think we have got that.”