ARU accused of abandoning grassroots leading to horrid Super Rugby and Wallabies results

Over the weekend we a saw a sorry end to the Super Rugby season for the last Australian outfit standing when the Brumbies were convincingly beaten 35-16 by the Hurricanes.

It follows a season in which none of the Aussie teams managed to beat any New Zealand side.

The terrible record followed a national side that couldn't even beat a depleted Scotland last month while their stars toured with the British and Irish Lions across the ditch.

Some of the game's Australian greats like Mark Ella have had enough and are lashing out.

"They're inept," the 25-cap Wallaby said. " I mean, they've sat back for so long without doing anything - it's just a joke."

Ella's anger is directed at the Australian Rugby Union.

"Why do we have to get to rock bottom before they decide, 'oh gee whiz, maybe New Zealand's dominating because they've got a centralised system that they do everything co-ordinated'," he said.

But the ARU's also been accused of abandoning the grassroots community.

A study last year revealed rugby's ranked 18th in children's chosen activities - well outplayed by sports like basketball and karate.

When it comes to club rugby, overall participation dropped again last year following a dramatic slump the year before.

And last year the ARU spent just three and a half per cent of its cash on community rugby - that's compared to more than 16 per cent in New Zealand.

"I think there's been a disconnect between the elite levels of rugby and grassroots rugby," headmaster of St Joseph's College, Ross Tarlinton said. 

The private school has a proud rugby history and has generated 48 Wallabies since it was founded in 1881 and the current headmaster says he's seen participation at the high school level slide.

"I think it's due, in many ways, to the attractiveness of other sports [and the] the promotion of other sports," he said.

The ARU is hoping to address some of those issues once they cut a Super Rugby team.

The governing body says they'll direct that money from the culled professional team into grassroots footy.

They're also looking at a more collaborative approach at the elite levels.

"It's the first step forward but there's many steps to follow and it should've been happening three years ago," Ella said.

But it's not a quick fix, and with the Wallabies hosting the All Blacks next month, a dark year for Australian rugby may get blacker yet.



Kieran Read out, Vaea Fifita recalled for All Blacks' trip to Argentina

All Blacks captain Kieran Read will miss his side's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina in Buenos Aires, with Wellington flanker Vaea Fifita called in as a replacement.

Read, 32, will be sent straight to South Africa, missing the All Blacks' Argentinian leg of their Rugby Championship campaign, coach Steve Hansen confirmed to media at Auckland Airport today.

"The original plan was always to make sure we don't have him sitting in a plane too long," Hansen began.

"When you go to Argentina then to South Africa, short turnaround, and not a great ride from Argentina to South Africa.

"The smart play is to leave him at home and send him straight to Africa."

Read's absence sees Vaea Fifita return to the side, having originally been overlooked for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship campaign, with the Wellington flanker controversially stating that he didn't understand why he'd been dropped.

"He's always been on our mind," Hansen said of Fifita.

"We've given him the task of going and playing some Mitre 10 Cup, he's done that.

"With Reado not coming we need a replacement, he's the obvious man."

The All Blacks' newest weapon sat out of practice with a sore shoulder today. Source: 1 NEWS


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'I'm sure we'll see his game go to even greater heights' - All Blacks star Rieko Ioane signs long term deal with NZ Rugby

Star winger Rieko Ioane has committed to the All Blacks for four more years in a significant win for New Zealand Rugby.

The 21-year-old, who has scored 18 tries from 18 Tests, was the subject of intense offshore club interest but has chosen to remain put at his Super Rugby team the Blues.

His deal is the longest of any current All Black, taking him to the end of 2022.

Ioane was last year crowned World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year and was also a nominee for the main award.

His electric pace and nose for the tryline has been a key element for the world champions, most notably on last year's tour of Europe when he single-handedly proved the difference in Test wins over Scotland and Wales.

"I want to give it my best shot at serving the black jersey and, hopefully, I'll get the chance to play at the Rugby World Cup in the future. That's a huge motivator for me," he said.

Akira Ioane was an unlucky exclusion from Steve Hansen's squad this morning.
Source: 1 NEWS

Ioane's older brother Akira, 23, has also extended his NZ Rugby contract, until 2021.

The powerful Blues No.8 is yet to be capped but played a midweek match for the All Blacks in France last November.

Both brothers are former New Zealand sevens stars who are regarded by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as among the country's premier young players.

"With his growing maturity and growth in his game understanding, I'm sure we'll see Rieko's game go to even greater heights," Hansen said.

"Akira is also an immense talent who has a bright future in our national game and we congratulate him on his decision as well."

(L to R) Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane and Akira Ioane,
All Blacks training session ahead of the upcoming test series against France. Alexandra Park. Auckland, New Zealand. Tuesday 22 May 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Rieko Ioane and Akira Ioane during an All Blacks training session in Auckland. Source: Photosport


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All Blacks star Rieko Ioane signs four year deal with NZ Rugby

All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane has signed a new four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby today.

The 21-year-old was named World Rugby's breakout player of the year in 2017 and has been outstanding for the national side since making his debut in 2016.

Brother Akira also signed a new three-year deal with NZ Rugby.

Rieko has scored 18 tries in 18 Tests, including a double against South Africa in Wellington last week in the All Blacks' 36-34 loss.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said it was "fantastic news for New Zealand Rugby. Rieko is a young player with undoubted talent who has already achieved wonderful things on the international stage."

Rieko said he felt "incredibly privileged to get the opportunity to play my rugby here for another four years." He said playing at a World Cup was "a huge motivator for me."

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said last month that Rieko is key player for the future.

"He's a vital component of our plan going forward," said Foster.

"I can't speak highly enough about him. He came in with a bit of a swagger and he has learned about the All Blacks.

"What I like is he has got real maturity about him, he hasn't got ahead of himself, and he quietly goes about his work."

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The new deal will see Rieko stay in New Zealand until the end of 2022 with Akira signed until the end of 2021.

"He's learning how to prepare better and better every test match, and when he goes out and plays he seems to enjoy doing what he's done since he was a kid. As long as we can keep him in that mode it's really exciting."

Rieko Ioane scores his second try.
New Zealand All Blacks v South Africa Springboks. Rugby Championship test match. Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand. Saturday 15 September 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane scores his second try against the Springboks. Source: Photosport


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Wallabies star Israel Folau wins Waratahs MVP award despite controversial year

Superstar fullback Israel Folau has won the Matthew Burke Cup, the NSW Waratahs players' players award.

The Wallabies back polled 99 votes, to finish ahead of captain and openside flanker Michael Hooper (77), backrower Michael Wells (71) and inside centre Kurtley Beale (65).

Votes were cast on a 3-2-1 basis by members of each match day squad after the Waratahs Super Rugby games.

Wells won the Waratahs best forward award and Beale took out the gong for their best back.

The NSW women's player of the year was veteran back Ash Hewson, who captained her state to the inaugural Super W title.

SYDNEY, NSW - MARCH 18: Waratahs player Israel Folau (14) looks towards the scoreboard at round 5 of the Super Rugby between Waratahs and Rebels at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on March 18, 2018. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire)
Waratahs player Israel Folau. Source: Photosport


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