Since the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup, there have been numerous discussions and debates regarding the future of the game in Australia. Many valid points have been raised, and it is clear that further investigation is warranted. However, one key issue that seems to have been overlooked is the lack of a comprehensive list of the factors that contributed to the poor on-field performance of the Wallabies during the World Cup, as well as the overall performance of the Super Rugby teams. While this article focuses specifically on elite level performance, it is important to note that actions are needed at all levels of the game.
Based on my own research, I have identified a consolidated list of failures which includes the decisions and actions of Rugby Australia (RA) over the past 3 years, the limited time for the new coach to build coaching and player cohesion, the over-reliance on inexperienced players at the World Cup, inadequate exposure of players to high-pressure situations, inadequate fitness and conditioning programs, lack of effective mentorship for emerging talents, insufficient competitive exposure for players, limited depth in critical positions, inconsistent captaincy and leadership appointments, inconsistent game management strategies and tactics, lack of adaptability to different opposition game plans, and players lacking situational awareness and match fitness at the elite level.
To address these issues, it is essential for RA and its stakeholders to develop and implement a dedicated program of works. One potential solution is to establish a 5-round competition comprising each Super Rugby team playing against a team selected from the other 4 Super Rugby teams. This format would provide additional game time for elite players and coaches, allowing them to improve their skills, decision-making, situational awareness, fitness, and conditioning. The proposed competition could also be broadcast on TV and played as a mid-week series, providing fans with more opportunities to watch elite-level rugby matches.
While there may be challenges associated with this approach, such as scheduling and concerns about player injuries, it is crucial to take action in order to address the performance-related issues at hand. Ultimately, it is clear that significant changes are needed in order to improve the performance of Australian rugby.