#MariaFolau

Rugby Australia chokes on its own incompetence

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After exchanging a politically correct, vomit-inducing and nose-bleedingly insincere prepared statement drafted by professional media consultants -not lost on anyone – the fact remains that Rugby Australia (RA) is the loser in the Israel Folau saga. We can forget the original source of the dismissal and the rights and wrongs of it. If RA thought it had a proper case, the legal fees (which it claimed were worth saving and settling out of court) would have been way less than the $10m payout he was demanding. So much for supporting the very communities the RA plasters all over its website.

The outcome was the result of management incompetence in thinking that appearing woke trumped legal due process. In full knowledge that Folau had a $1.6mn war chest (courtesy of Christians, free speech advocates and rugby fans alike) to take up the case against his former employer, the board was forced to buckle and issue an apology to the former rugby star, which would never have been necessary if it had a smidgen of judgment in the beginning.

RA CEO Raelene Castle can laugh off “wildly inaccurate” speculation on the $8mn rumoured settlement but the fact is the board knows the exact amount. Israel and Maria Folau wouldn’t have been grinning like Cheshire cats were he to have signed away for less than his rescinded contract. It will be fascinating to see the composition of the 2019/20 reported figures that will be published in due course. Expect some accounting trickery to fudge it into the numbers.

Castle said a few months back that the franchise could weather paying out Izzy Folau’s $10m claim. Although CM is not sure that paying out $10m + costs – which would wipe out almost 2/3rds of the $18mn in cash on the balance sheet – is something a CEO should think is worth boasting about. What she has long needed to focus on is arresting the declining operating performance. Yet she stated emphatically that the RA won’t have to make changes to the budget. Maybe her lawyers pieced together a multi-year drawdown of the sum to be paid to smooth out the ultimate impact. 

The RA franchise is the laughing stock of the rugby world. So transparent is the lack of accountability, woeful internal coordination and deteriorating financial results that it requires nothing more than a drastic overhaul if the entity is to thrive.

Former coach Michael Cheika let loose that it was no secret he had no relationship with the CEO and a very poor one with Chairman Cameron Clyne. This coming from the very individual running by far the biggest RA franchise. Despite possessing by far the worst performance record of any Wallabies coach, management persevered with a man who didn’t have a leg to stand on but cast aspersions on the executive team.

Therein lies the problem. RA can push all of the woke causes (e.g. LGBTQI+, gender equality) it likes, but if the ultimate end customer derives no value from it, it is a fruitless exercise which can’t escape the scrutiny of the free market come time to pay bills.

Castle may believe that this was a commercial decision for the sake of providing certainty. Had she done the right thing from the start she could have avoided getting embroiled in a scandal that has exposed the poor governance within.

Isn’t it odd that the LGBT activists are now attacking the very institution that set out to promote them – RA. CM has never thought much of his tweets but the reaction to them has been so over the top. The faux outrage mob finds oppression in everything.

Castle should resign and if she won’t the board should fire her despite her defiance against the bleeding obvious – she is in over her head. Fans won’t return with the status quo.

Get woke, go broke.

NZ Rugby vs Rugby Australia – the franchise stats

Well, well, we’ll. Who’d a thunk? NZ Rugby (NZR) is focused on the game, not appearing to be woke. Is it any wonder Australia are unlikely to win the Bledisloe Cup for many more years to come. The investment NZR pour into the All Blacks swamps Rugby Australia’s (RA) pittance into the Wallabies because sponsors and fans see the Kiwi franchise for what it is – a united team of winners with returns!

It shouldn’t surprise us when RA & NZR reveal primary objectives.

Objective 1 in the NZR 2018 Annual Report is “REMAINING ON TOP OF THE WORLD” (p.18)

Objective 1 in RA’s 2018 Annual Report is written as, “For rugby to continue to be a sport of choice in a rapidly changing society…community coaches are responsible…for creating fun, safe and inclusive environments” (p.10).

With that RA mantra, NZR is faced with a longer term dilemma. Because the fans might have to consider they might “get tired of all this winning!”

In all seriousness, NZR should seek to form a new version of the Bledisloe with a worthy adversary in Europe because the Wallabies will drift even further away from being competitive with RA focused on such utter malarkey.

Or to even it up, perhaps the All Blacks under-18s should play the Wallabies?

So why the gap? The numbers between the two are as follows.

RA took in approximately A$30m in licensing and sponsorship last year. NZR raked in A$65m. More than double for a country with one-fifth the population. Think about it. The advertising base is smaller yet the sponsors must see the returns as superior to do so.

Total revenues for RA sum to around A$110m. NZR takes in A$182m in 2018.

Match day revenue for RA reached A$20m last year. NZR collected A$28m.

Total assets for RA sum to A$69m. NZR total assets are A$183m. Total equity for RA is A$27m vs NZR at $99m.

Just looking at financial metrics alone, RA is not going to rebuild this franchise without focusing on what NZ already knows. The business has one sole focus – the pride of a nation.

Should we be surprised that Eden Park has been sold out every game since 1962 when the All Blacks play the Wallabies? That’s a franchise. Maybe RA should ask why Australian based attendance of the same series has drifted 20-35% in the last decade.

Until the Wallabies have a priority that focuses on a winning formula that is driven from the top, expect to see turnstiles become rusty.

Pathetic really. This is exactly why the RA board and leadership need a complete overhaul. Amateurs playing against professionals. Get woke. Go broke.

High Priest of Rugby Australia hits the nail on the head

If Rugby Australia (RA) Chairman Cameron Clyne had a decent product he wouldn’t need to worry about sponsors. Sponsors want brand exposure. That requires packed crowds following the Wallabies.

Some quick facts since 2014 vs 2018.

-Wallabies team costs (coach, support etc) +70% ($9.97m)

-Match day revenue -42.1% ($20.17m)

-Sponsorships -11.5% ($28.23m)

-Player contracts +3.2% ($16.79m)

– Licensing revenue -12.9% ($1.67m)

– RA has $18m in cash and equivalents as at 2019.

– RA made $5.87m net profit in 2018 on $119m of revenue but is expected to post a loss in 2019.

The SMH points to the very problems that RA has created for itself. To take the notion that “no” sponsors would want to be associated had they done nothing is absolute garbage. The Australian Christian Lobby might fill the Qantas void…

Does Clyne honestly believe that LGBT staff within RA may have sued it for not creating a safe and respectful environment had Folau not been shot? What a joke. If it is that easy to get a payout, CM would identify as such to ride that gravy train. How weak is the board to fold to this dross?

Did RA do anything when Pocock was arrested for chaining himself to an excavator for 10 hours at the Maules Creek mine? He was charged with “trespass, remaining on enclosed land without lawful excuse and hindering the working of mining equipment.” Raelene Castle wasn’t CEO at the time but Cameron Clyne, Paul McLean and Ann Sherry were and still are board members. Where is the balance in sanctions handed out? Wasn’t there a risk the climate skeptics inside RA might sue for the lack of a respectful environment?

Clyne also mentioned there was a risk of state and federal funding cuts if this wasn’t dealt with. In 2018, these grants totaled $3.5m out of total revenues of $119m. Less than 3%.

Once again if RA was run for the fans it would stand a far higher chance of not needing to fear its own shadow.

Alinta Energy sponsors Cricket Australia post the cheating scandal with the cheats still representing their country. Is cheating any better or worse than tweeting passages paraphrasing the Bible? The point is sponsors took advantage.

Here’s a suggestion. Put Folau back, sack Cheika based solely on (lack of) performance, drop Hooper, Foley and all the other publicly woke players to the bench, replace the board, CEO and chairman, call Qantas’ bluff and watch the fans flood back. A sponsor that is presented with an opportunity to back the team at its nadir will reap the benefits like Alinta.

If private health funds want to gain new customers…

If private health funds in Australia want to gain a lot of new business and waive some waiting periods for long term customers of HCF, they’ll stampede to their door. Strike while their competitor gets woke.

HCF joins the list of brainless corporates having to come out and show it doesn’t support the actions of Israel Folau’s wife, Maria in standing by her husband. The irony is she hasn’t said anything. Shame on her for trying to defend the couple’s livelihood.

HCF, sponsors of the Australian Netball series, said, “We appreciate the complexities of the Folau matter and acknowledge that views do differ in the community, however, we do not support Maria Folau’s stance on this matter.

If Maria Folau said she believed in mass murder, would Australians need direction from HCF to know the right path? Since when did corporates feel compelled to enforce moral and ethical codes on customers?

Corporate Australia is becoming a laughing stock. Does HCF honestly believe its customers are going to quit in droves if they don’t say something woke? It’s no better than ANZ preaching moral codes, although the bank comes from a greater history of scandal, as the Hayne Banking Royal Commission revealed.

Tell you what, if Medibank Private, nib or another private health insurer offer to waive the waiting periods, CM will happily transfer the $400/month to them from HCF.

HCF, not interested in your moral preening.

NSW Chair pleads for a truce

Could it be that those who are fed up with political correctness have proved their pockets are way deeper than Rugby Australia (RA) ever imagined? For the Rugby NSW Chair Roger Davis to pipe up that, “the game is paying too high a price for RA to be proved right in this matter” speaks volumes. Sounds like fear that RA might lose.

The ACL suspended the Folau fund raising as it went over $2m in two days. Now he can comfortably fund an excellent team of silks to prosecute the case against RA. Plenty more ammunition behind that one imagines too. RA is outgunned unless Qantas intends to deploy shareholder capital?!?

Once again, this has moved way beyond Folau’s contractual dispute. People are fed up with the lecturing from the left. Regardless of whether one agrees with what he said or not or the GoFundMe stunt, the people have spoken with their wallets. They don’t want to have corporates tell them how or what to say or behavioral awareness officers at the games marshaling their stress outlets.

Rugby Australia’s problems started way before Folau’s tweets. The attendance and performance of the Wallabies stems from the incompetence at the top. The numbers are abysmal. The identity politics obsessed board which keeps a coach despite the worst track record in the team’s history. Australia will be lucky to make the play offs.

As David rightly said, It’s not about rights or wrongs now, it’s about pragmatics. I don’t think rugby should be defining freedom of religion rights or freedom of expression rights. I don’t think it’s our job,

Exactly. Which is why $2m was lined up to let RA know it should drop all of the gender and identity political garbage period and focus on who pays the bills – the fans.

How dare you stand by your man

If CM had a dime every time another person or corporate talked about “diversity and inclusion” he’d be a millionaire. That one has to claim the bleeding obvious is nothing more than sanctimonious virtue signaling. It is nauseating. It’s like asserting one stands against Nazis. Really? How woke!

To have people question Israel Folau’s wife supporting her husband beggars belief. What does one expect? That she might publicly shame him on her Twitter account? Is anyone surprised she retweeted his GoFundMe appeal? Perhaps former Aussie netballer Liz Ellis can advise Maria Folau in the art of throwing her beloved under the bus.

She tweeted, “How about this: There is no room for homophobia in our game. Anyone who is seen to support or endorse homophobia is not welcome. As much as I love watching @MariaFolau play netball I do not want my sport endorsing the views of her husband.”

Liz, should Netball NZ launch a witch-hunt on Maria? Shall we make an example of her? Perhaps ask Jacinda Ardern’s judiciary to sink its newly sharpened fangs into Maria for retweeting Izzy’s ‘hatred’ and incarcerate her? Perhaps ask Twitter to terminate his account?

ANZ, sponsor of the domestic netball premiership, unsurprisingly came out with a politically correct response. Does ANZ have to prove to the 0.1% of activists who claim faux outrage that it isn’t homophobic? Why not appeal to the 0.000001% of fornicators, adulterers and drunks who might have been upset by Folau? It is amazing to think these institutions hire so many staff to floss the chrome fixtures in the executive bathroom.

Corporations really need to grow a pair. “Diversity and inclusion” are overused more in corporate virtue signaling than Casanova serenading “I love only you” on Valentine’s Day.

If ANZ had a look at the bank account balances of the activists that they fear so much they would soon learn they could easily afford to lose their business.

Quit the moral preening. You aren’t fooling anyone.