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Former Wallabies skipper calls for Rugby Australia to get 'selfish'

By Online Editors

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Australian rugby needs to be selfish and take a hard look at its involvement in Super Rugby, says ex-Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore.

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Even before the coronavirus shutdown forced the suspension of the 25th season of Super Rugby, many were questioning whether the inter-continental competition was working for Australia amid dwindling crowds and television viewing figures.

Moore, a widely respected hooker who retired in 2017 after winning 129 caps, said his experience over the last three years had convinced him support for the game is waning and urgent action is required to address the disengagement of fans.

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“We need to come up with what our professional offering looks like, and the Wallabies are obviously at the pinnacle of that, and Test rugby is the jewel of the crown for us,” Moore said in an interview with ESPN.

“But in terms of what that next tier looks like, whether it’s Super Rugby or a domestic competition, we need to make sure it suits Australian rugby and that’s really important.

“It needs to suit us from a high-performance point-of-view, it needs to suit us from a viewer and engagement standpoint. Get people back speaking positively about the game, enjoying the tribalism that has been around the game.

“And that’s why people are gravitating back to their clubs because that’s where they’re finding the tribalism.”

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Club rugby has enjoyed a resurgence in Australia while the four Super Rugby teams remaining after the axing of Perth’s Western Force in 2018 have struggled to find an audience.

The move to an 18-team competition in 2016, further extending the geographical reach by including teams from Argentina and Japan, was judged a failure and a 14-team format has been put in place for the 2021 season.

“I think there is an opportunity for a blank canvas around what the future looks like here,” Moore added.

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“But we’ve got to be really committed to getting the best outcomes for rugby in Australia … you’ve got to be selfish, and you’ve got to have a vision of what you want the outcome to be.

“And I think it’s been going on a little bit too long where it hasn’t quite worked for us. I don’t know if we can continue to just tweak things.”

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