Ex-Wallabies prop Ben Alexander says it’s time to stop the blame game and is offering some creative solutions for the state of rugby in Australia.
The deep-thinking Alexander, who retired from professional rugby in 2018 with 72 Test caps to his credit, penned his thoughts on the game in the online forum Letter.
Alexander says that with global sport at a standstill thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, now is not the time to sack embattled Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle, with Phil Kearns reportedly the favoured replacement.
“Maybe Kearns is the Donald Trump-type character the game needs to unite the masses and ‘Make Rugby Great Again’. Or will he only further divide the Australian Rugby public?” Alexander wrote.
“But now is not the time for an election, as Raelene Castle and the RA Board have urgent work to do and shouldn’t have to deal with this distraction.”
He likened RA’s financial “over-reliance” on their broadcast deal with Foxtel to the western economy’s dependence on China for cheap manufacturing including face masks and pharmaceuticals.
With a growing number of customers consuming content via the internet and deserting pay-TV Alexander said depending on an external broadcast partner was like having “tea and scones in the first-class cabin of the Titanic” and backed Castle’s call to test the open market.
The former Brumbies forward believes RA should consider a streaming model that cuts out the middle-man, similar to the NBA’s subscription-based League Pass.
“While I’m totally clueless as to the costs involved to set something like this up, could Australian Rugby start its own streaming service, maintaining the bulk of the profits, and have rugby fans from all around the world, pay a monthly subscription to get all the great Aussie rugby content?”
Alexander said he recognised that grassroots rugby people were “fed up” with money being spent on the professional game in Australia without yielding results in the form of trophies.
Pointing to the strong and wealthy English and French domestic competitions, he pondered whether the large travel costs of Super Rugby provided value for money, in terms of breeding successful Wallabies.
“Could we place a greater emphasis on domestic competition, while introducing a new international competition, where the travel costs are at a manageable level, and games are played in ‘Aussie fan-friendly’ timezones?” Alexander said.
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