WORLD Cup-winning Wallaby captain Nick Farr-Jones AM shared some anecdotes and his thoughts on the state of the game when he was the special guest speaker at Tamworth Rugby’s Long Lunch on Saturday.
More than 100 attended the lunch and had the opportunity to hear the former half-back’s views on a range of topics from the best forward he played with, the best try he’s seen or been involved in to the financial position of the game.
He was raw and honest as far as the latter, telling the audience the game is broke, although that probably didn’t come as a surprise to many.
The ARU’S financial difficulties have been well documented.
Farr-Jones has himself said previously that the game is in for tough times financially and predicts the next couple of years will be fairly lean revenue-wise.
“We’ve got a lousy schedule going forward,” he said.
Next year there are four Test matches before the World Cup.
“The following year – 2016 – we’ve got tours from Samoa, Scotland and Italy.”
One ray of hope is the new National Rugby Championships.
Not only will it provide more exposure for more players but more product for broadcast and hopefully, as an extension of that, bring in more broadcasting dollars.
“We have to get behind it,” he said.
He has also been vocal about changing the model for player payments and told the audience he’d like to see an incentive system brought in.
Basically you get paid to play well.
As the independent director-chairman of the NSW Rugby Union, Farr-Jones looks after the community side of the game, and feels the junior level is suffering under the financial strain.
They don’t have the resources the AFL and rugby league do for development.
This year the ARU did introduce a competition component to its Junior Gold program, which is its national development pathway.
“Apparently it went well,” Farr-Jones said.
“My only concern is we had to charge families $600 a player.”
The other consideration is they need to give parents and players time off.
The concept itself though is good.
On the field, Farr-Jones said fellow World Cup- winning captain John Eales was probably the best forward he played with.
He played with some great ones and rattled off names like Tim Gavin, Simon Poidevin and former Argentinean ‘Topo’ Rodriguez.
As for favourite try.
“It’s hard to go past when Campo (David Campese) put the ball over his head for Tim (Horan),” he said referring to Horan’s try in the 1991 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand when Campese gathered a chip-kick from five-eighth Michael Lynagh and, knowing he couldn’t score with two defenders about to tackle him, made a blind throw over his shoulder to Horan.