Brand “RUGBY UNION” at risk of being downgraded from its 140 years old perch!

Long time ago, I learnt from Michael N. Fox (QLD based) Performance & Leadership Coach/Mentor, that when the ‘chips’ are down and the ‘stakes’ are very high, the best moment to take action is NOW! – And…on the way “take full responsibility for your own actions”

Time and time again World Rugby fails to read “the writing on the wall”. Dwindling crowds at any ‘Super’, and Not-so-Super tournament, clubs fixtures, sponsors do not see the point of being associated with this great game called Rugby Union, yet run by groups of Masonic or Mor… operators (sorry to the Masons and their set of values). Could not help it, it was an irresistible rhyme…


Yet, back in the dressing sheds and boardrooms…a different story smells, smokes and mirrors being flashed left, right and centre!

Since the final match of the 2015 RWC (where Scotland should have played vs New Zealand) all things ‘rugby’ started to go pear-shape. I believe, JV Capitals were hovering around from a bit before, circling the pray, befriending the ‘powerbrokers’… preparing the ground for a grand assault. The ‘All Blacks’ brand, since their re-entry in the RWC winning circles in 2011, has been an even more irresistible booty, a dream for ROI thirsty corporate dudes. All these ins and outs, the talks at Board level, the Directors secretly dealing and counter-dealing (c’mon), this ‘culture’ has been going on for exactly 140 years. Yes, from that homonymous school, onto the illustrious universities of the world, whether UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Argentina, you name it. And of course the Great Private Schools who feed the Great Private Colleges which belong to the Great Quasi-Private Universities. See? My Great Private Linage (Da Vinci-Code Conspiracy real life story) comes alive when you see who musters and masters the control of the votes in those Boardrooms. Do not believe me? Go an ask the innocent question, Which school did you study at? Nonetheless, it is neither the school nor the knowledge acquired but… THE NETWORK and the selective aristocratic culture perpetuated by Headmasters, teachers, Old Boys, etc. The Pride of playing in te First XV is so ‘mega’ !! – I met a lot of them, while touring with the Wallabies (1984-1987), and guess what? In Argentina was exactly the same (1977-1983).sheds

In life, people come, people go, we make friends, some for fair-weather, other for rough seas, or just drinking buddies. Life goes on, some on the Rat Race, others on the Rolls Royce Race. North, South, East or West? Take your pick, that is or will be your destination or perhaps only the Highway of Life? What about the ‘tolls of life’? What about it? – Jaaa, the toll is always paid, some people upfront on the beginning of the race, others mid-stream, but sad it is when that ‘price’ comes late in life, with lots of money accumulated, yet no energies, weak heart, insufficient respiratory capacity, kidneys or liver who had enough… the truly valuable experiences of life, family, grandkids, old friends who may or may not vanish from our lives, or from everybody else’s life (yes, it is inevitable, but quality of life in our mature days is enormously invaluable.

Many friends all over the world keep reminding me of the good times had, on and off the field, the atrocities we were allowed to on the field, (of course different times, different rules) BUT, the ethical codes, the non-written rules where there ever present. We played for honour, national and personal pride, Not for a salary, or for a sponsor, or for rankings? All or nothing, 80 minutes for you and the other 14 nutters, to prove your worthiness, being replaced? taken off the field, that was a SENTENCE, the looming motivational factor on all of us.

Have I lost you yet? – What am I getting at?

Twelve ‘little’ ones for your consideration and ACTION!

  1. The current appalling (on the nose) state of World Rugby, and the delegates, NZ, SAR, AUS, FRA, ARG, SCO, WAL, IRE, etc. The worst example, was the ‘Summit’… Springboks vs British & Irish Lions Tour.
  2. Financial struggles, attracting the JV Capitals, Count Dracula imitators on the way to the blood bank
  3. The Legal Action from Concussion-Dementia-Suicide Class Action (on the move) groups
  4. The Urgent need for a complete overhaul of the Laws
  5. The Review on the Referees involvement as a policemen (they must be enablers), Not the technical or tactical coaches with the whistle and a microphone, imparting lectures to the 30 players and the 30.000 spectators. We want to see the game ‘flowing’, is this too much to ask?
  6. On this, we want more CONTINUITY, so stop the stoppages. If I could, I would select mute referees, just a good pair of lungs, and play on
  7. Stop this nonsense of PRECISSION and EXACTNESS of the referees judgement. Before professional paid rugby (1995), The Referee was always right, particularly when he/she was not, NEVER WRONG, just mistaken.
  8. The TMO? Gee-Weez, where do I start? – Technology and Statistics are killing the game even further! (this only helps Gambling, which is an even bigger money-spinner than rugby)
  9. Rugby needs ‘SUPRISE, COUNTER-ATTACK, rugby is an art displayed by imperfect people, coached by imperfect people, and administered by people who aspire to be Super-Perfect? Get a reality-check done ASAP?
  10. Stop the TV producers influencing on When, How and Who does What! (playing and the Laws)
  11. On this point, these days we see little perving eyes (cameras) introduce inside the most unsuspecting holes, and interviews at half time? Wotdda!
  12. Last for the Dirty Dozen, the only winners here will be rugby league, football, Aussie Rules, and… the big Law Firms.

Fellow rugby administrators, from Hamish McLennan, to Marcelo Rodriguez to Sir Bill… Beaumont, forget that is TOPO writing it! – My intentions are bona-fide-tops. It is not me, but COMMON SENSE fancy-dressed as another TOPO. Copy and copy good, I will not sue you for stealing my IP. Do something good with your time, energies and intellect, (for humankind). Be generous, at least this one time, our game is in the ICU, of Lawyers and TV Boardrooms. Now, if you think the the trillions you accumulate in the RWC every four years is enough? Think again, because your ‘kids’, will not have enough money in the ‘piggy’ bank to run that incredible business-event.

Sir Bill Beaumont and Mr Alan Gilpin (CEO, and new kid in the rugby chopping block), please take notice of the market perception (of course it is not-the-reality’) – “WORLD RUGBY has been milking the public rugby cow for far too long” – How about putting some grass in its mouth? Today, tomorrow and the day after that?


Enrique TOPO Rodriguez

Founder and Convener ISSF (International Sports Sciences Forum)

Sydney, 14/08/2021

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