Rugby Union Players Association boss Justin Harrison says plans from ex-Test captains for reinvigorating rugby in Australia aren’t a “magic formula” to cure the troubled code. Harrison and incoming RA board member Peter Wiggs met on Monday with Phil Kearns and Nick Farr-Jones, who were representing the ten disgruntled ex-Wallabies who signed a letter last week calling for administrative change.
The petition contributed to RA chief executive Raelene Castle falling on her sword. Harrison said that the meeting was a step toward rebuilding unity, but the ex-players didn’t have simple, immediate solutions to resolve the game’s woes. “What they have done is put their names to something to provoke transparency and not have things decided by a very limited number of people who have agendas and vested interests,” said Harrison to AAP.
“They’re not advocating for any one particular magic formula. There’s been malcontent with the way rugby has been administered for a long time… with Super Rugby, the professional model has detached from the community model and there’s been a lack of involvement with decision making and administrative governance from grassroots up through that food chain. There’s no document that’s going to achieve that.”
The ex-Test lock felt there would be further “trauma” as the code reinvented itself. “Everything is on the table at the moment – everything needs to be pulled apart,” he said. “That’s going to involve a lot of people losing control of something they have enjoyed or held on to for a significant amount of time.”
Harrison said the focus needed to be on establishing revenue streams and appealing to broadcast and commercial partners. He is also part of RA’s return to play committee which is working towards a resumption date after last month’s suspension of Super Rugby due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There was plenty to work through including the structure and participation model given the coronavirus had shut international borders long-term. “The Super Rugby model as we know it is not going to be repeated so whatever is delivered is going to be vastly different from what it was six weeks ago,” Harrison said. He hoped there would be progress regarding a return to play inside a fortnight.
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