By Chris Jones of RugbyPass.com
Bob Dwyer, the World Cup-winning coach who helped turn the Wallabies into a major rugby force, has launched a withering attack on Rugby Australia, insisting he "couldn't care less" if the governing body declares bankruptcy. Dwyer is also calling for an end to players being exiled from Test selection when they take up lucrative contracts abroad.
Under what is known as Giteau's Law, currently a player can only be considered for Test selection if they have played 60 times for the Wallabies. However, Dwyer sees no merit in this artificial rule and wants Australia to follow South Africa's lead and pick the best players regardless of where they are based.
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Dwyer, the man who led Australia to the 1991 Rugby World Cup, told RugbyPass: "You would have players at the top of the game being paid by someone else and you get them released at agreed times. I reckon that is the best deal you could have and all we need to do is what South Africa have done and consider anyone for selection, and that would be perfect. Would South Africa have won the World Cup without their offshore players? Not a hope in Hell.
"The Giteau Law is not a law and is just a decision that was made and it is changed all the time. There are heaps of guys who could then be considered."
Rugby Australia are predicting massive losses of around £60m that could see them unable to survive and they are reportedly even struggling to pay the controversial award of millions of dollars to former Wallaby full-back Israel Folau, who was sacked for his views on homosexuality. "Israel Folau is playing league – and what a fiasco that was for RA. I would have a chat to Folau about coming back because we have players currently in the game who have committed various offences," said Dwyer.
Against a backdrop of increasing demands for Raelene Castle, the RA CEO, to stand down, Dwyer believes the game has been "horribly badly run" and that it will take something as dramatic as the total financial collapse of the Union to force what he believes is a much needed reset for the sport in Australia. Castle has instigated cost-cutting at RA which has seen her own salary slashed by 50%, staff wages drop by 30% and 75% of staff stood down until July 1.
Dwyer has tried for years to make RA understand the damaging disconnect that has been created between the clubs and the Union. He wants the current board to be ejected and people with a true understanding of how rugby is run in the country given the task of reviving the ailing governing body.
The World Rugby Hall of Fame member, who also coached Leicester and Bristol before returning to Australia, recently stood down after eight years as President of the famous Randwick club where he helped guide the careers of Eddie Jones, Michael Cheika, David Campese and Simon Poidevin.
Dwyer's passion for the game remains as strong as ever and he added "I thought some years ago that we would have to hit rock bottom before change was forced upon the Rugby Australia administration – I mean the board who supposedly run the show. In the last six or seven years they have really taken their eye off the ball and it has been horribly badly run and they have set about changing the make-up of the board from constituent bodies (the states) to a much smaller representation along with so called independent board members. Now that has become a farce.
"What I see happening is that RA will be bankrupt, the board will have to resign and we can go back to having a board with proper representation of the people who are the game. Before last week there were 150 employees at RA running the men's and women's national teams and the sevens. I haven't got the foggiest idea what all those people do.
"What RA failed to understand is that they are Rugby Australia, not Rugby Wallabies, and if you don't get that then what do you understand about the game? You are supposed to be running the game in the country and the Wallabies are a product of how well you run the game. The absolute stand point is that the Wallabies are not Australian rugby – they are the pinnacle of Australian rugby."
Dave Rennie, who has been appointed to replace Cheika as Wallaby head coach, is reportedly ready to walk away if Castle is ousted from her role with former Test hooker Phil Kearns supposedly being lined-up as the new CEO. Dwyer dismisses the potential loss of Rennie, stating: "If Dave Rennie wants to go because Raelene is going then that's OK. We will get someone else. He seems to be a very decent person but we don't want someone to stay coaching the team because he likes the CEO. What has that got to do with anything?
"I have tried for years to explain to the senior members of RA that the Wallabies or Super Rugby are not the sport of rugby in this country – that is the outcome of the sport of rugby. Club rugby in the two strongholds of Brisbane and Sydney is currently going brilliantly. It's phenomenal with record crowds at the end of season matches plus crowds getting bigger. One of the Brisbane clubs had an open day for the new season from Under 7 to seniors had 2,500 kids registered.
"No matter what happens, rugby in Australia will never cease to exist."