CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | CONTACT
For the first time in the history of Australian rugby union, a man baptised into the Roman Catholic Church has been named as the chairman of the game.
New Rugby Australia chairman Dan Herbert has promised to ‘listen to the people’ after nearly 200 years of protestant rule.
Accounts of rugby being played in the Colony of New South Wales date back to the 1840s. Some colonial settlers would have been familiar with earlier forms of the game even before it was formally codified at Britain’s Rugby School in 1845.
Following a golden age just pre and post the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the game has struggled to remain relevant in Australia ever since Johnny Wilkinson snatched the 2003 World Cup from our hands with a cowardly drop goal.
The days of the raw-boned farmers sons being snatched from boarding school dorms and placed in Wallabies jerseys are over, as it becomes clear that Australian private schools are now so exclusive that the only families that can afford them are made up of soft cocks.
The grassroots in suburban clubland has also suffered dramatically to NRL’s pasifika revolution, with rugby league now earning the title as the most exciting footballing code in Australia, and rugby union as the one where the referees talk too much.
With rugby union traditionally run by the type of born-to-rule Mosman boys that fire the coach or oust their chairman every time the going gets tough – it has been difficult for the game to maintain any form of consistency when they are pulling a Libspill style coup every 6-18 months.
This specific demographic has also been accused of not wanting to accept that a winning Wallaby side will mostly be made up of boys who have dads that work in factories.
However, the anointment of a practicing Catholic marks a positive direction for Rugby Australia, with hopes that this commitment to diversity might even see a Polynesian Super Rugby coach in the next ten to twenty years.
Herbert is intent on rebuilding the fractured code from the ground up and ultimately returning the Wallabies to the glory days of winning Bledisloe and World Cup trophies, with a centralisation plan that may or may not have been influenced by the Vatican.