Sit down, lis­ten, Wal­laby great warns ARU

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Syd­ney: Wal­la­bies great Si­mon Poidevin has in­structed Aus­tralian Rugby Union chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill Pul­ver to take a let­ter sent by him and a num­ber of for­mer play­ers se­ri­ously or run the risk of a stand­off that will “end in tears”. A re­port in The Aus­tralian on Wed­nes­day re­vealed dozens of for­mer Wal­la­bies had put their sig­na­tures on a let­ter ad­dressed to ARU chair­man Cameron Clyne and his board, out­lin­ing a num­ber of con­cerns they had about the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s strate­gic ap­proach.

Al­though Pul­ver has not of­fi­cially seen the let­ter, he agreed to meet those who have signed the doc­u­ment but said he felt there was more noise at this stage than gen­uine ideas of how to im­prove the state of the code. When told Pul­ver did not see a whole lot of ideas be­ing put for­ward in the let­ter, Poidevin said: “I’d re­ally chal­lenge that. I don’t think Bill’s get­ting it. There’s go­ing to be a lot of sig­na­tures on that let­ter. Bill and the board have to take note.

“If you don’t re­spect the ex­pe­ri­ence and the hard yards put in by those Wal­la­bies and the Wal­laby coaches and you want to hide an ivory tower, it’s go­ing to end in tears. I wouldn’t be try­ing to bat it away.” The key ar­gu­ment of the let­ter is the ARU is turn­ing its back on grass­roots rugby, a claim Pul­ver and the ARU ve­he­mently deny.

Poidevin, one of Aus­tralia’s great­est back­row­ers who fea­tured in 59 Tests be­tween 1980 and 1991, has stressed how se­ri­ously he and fel­low play­ers are tak­ing the mat­ter. “Any smart man­age­ment board will lis­ten to their con­stituents,” Poidevin said.

“A lot of the guys, in­clud­ing my­self, spent a lot of time on rugby across all age groups, across clubs. We’re do­ing things which Aus­tralian Rugby Union doesn’t recog­nise and should recog­nise.

“I would just say to Bill: ‘It’s not [for­mer Wal­laby] Brett Pap­worth lead­ing the charge on his own. Ev­ery­one is go­ing with him here and you’ve got to sit down and lis­ten’.” Rugby Heaven

Si­mon Poidevin.

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