Former Wallabies coach Alan Jones has launched an extraordinary face-to-face attack on n Rugby Union chairman Cameron Clyne, saying he and his board know “bugger all about the game” and should resign immediately.
Speaking on his morning show on 2GB, Jones grilled Clyne on why the ARU agreed to expand Super Rugby to 18 teams last year, why there had been, in his opinion, a reluctance until now to support grassroots rugby, as well as a number of other issues following news either the Western Force or Melbourne Rebels would be punted from new year.
“I put to you that the people on the board of n Rugby aren’t qualified to do that job??? I think quite frankly most of you know bugger all about the game and how to get results,” Jones said. “Could you explain firstly to me and then everybody else what are the credentials of those people on the board of n Rugby, including yourself, to be determining the future and direction of Super Rugby?
“Who increased it from 15 to 18 [teams]? You’ve made a wrong decision. Why don’t you all resign?”
Clyne explained there was no option to reduce teams when Super Rugby expanded last year but it did not stop Jones from sticking the boot in.
“If you thought it was the wrong decision financially, why didn’t you access the power of veto and if you didn’t, and if you’ve plunged n rugby into a mess as a result, aren’t you honour bound to say we’ve failed, we’ve given someone else a go [and] get out of the scene.”
Clyne responded: “The 18 teams did not have an impact on us dropping this team. This has been a financial issue for 10 years.”
Sensing an opportunity, Jones outlined the cold, hard facts of n rugby’s decline at the top level.
“You constantly told us you were going to ignite ‘s passion,” Jones said. “Since 2003, you’ve not won a Bledisloe Cup. Since 2003, you’ve not beaten the British and Irish Lions. Since 2003, you haven’t won a World Cup. Since 2003 you haven’t won an under-20 World Championship. We’ve won eight out of 31 games in Super Rugby and none out of 12 against New Zealand.
“Now your product is flawed, that’s why you can’t pay your way. Since 2007, this crowd have spent $777 million. What’ve we got to show for it?
“You people pretend there isn’t a problem and you keep going on. You’ve presided over failure, why don’t you move on and let someone else have a go?”
Clyne explained the ARU had to cut to a team to supplement grassroots rugby, something Jones said needed to happen in a recent interview with Fox Sports.
“Where the money is going is not grassroots,” Clyne said. “You yourself said you’ve got to fix the floor. What we can’t afford to do is continue to put money into the Super franchises at the expense of grassroots.”
Jones then quipped: “We just found out the grassroots exist, did we?”
The interview then focused on the Western Force and their future, with Jones probing Clyne on whether they would be dropped.
“I’m not commenting on who is getting the chop,” Clyne said.
“When will we know who’s getting the chop?” Jones asked.
“Well there’s legal action so as soon as possible,” Clyne said.
Jones told Clyne the ARU could expect to find themselves in court, before the chairman replied: “The Western Force got themselves into financial trouble. They are run independently with an independent board. Time and time again we are bailing out these franchises that are run independently by the state franchises Alan, ok?
“It’s not ok at all,” Jones said. “Don’t talk to me about being ok.
“You’re a businessman, go and raise the money. What are you doing? How much money have you raised for n rugby union?”
Clyne replied: “I put an enormous amount in personally. We are 100 per cent prioritising n rugby.
“You question the board. We have three ex-Wallabies players on the board. We have a president who is a former Wallaby who attends every meeting. We have two other board members, including myself, who have played provincial rugby. That board has a knowledge of grassroots and I was at the Shute Shield final and I’m at schoolboys rugby every week and club rugby every week.”
Jones ended the jaw-dropping interview by saying the ARU was only at fault and it was their responsibility to pull rugby out of its current situation.
“You’re dealing with a game that has a scoreboard Cameron and when you look at the n rugby scoreboard, the scoreboard’s dreadful, the results terrible,” Jones said. “We’ve got a lot of money spent and not a lot to show for it.”