For a game that prides itself on camaraderie and inclusiveness – it’s not too long along that it was hard to find either of these things across the ranks of Australian rugby.
A quick stroll around rugby world and you would see disagreements between clubs and states, the professional and amateur games, states and Rugby AU, coaches and CEO’s, city v country and ‘rugby schools’ v non ‘rugby schools’, past players and current administration. The game seemed at war with itself, a Jekyll and Hyde show oscillating between a top down professional driven model, and a grassroots up game as it had always been.
We’d become just rugby…no union!
And then Covid hit, and the game had a catharsis moment as crises often create. For both the amateur and professional game – it just became about ‘getting back on the park’, getting back to your club, your mates and the sense of belonging that rugby provides, the part of the game we didn’t value enough until it was gone. We realised we had to bind together to survive, and by the game binding together again we realised what it was that rugby had lost…the union!