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

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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.

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