'A failing Super Rugby system': Former loosie calls for less Aussie teams
SPOTLIGHT: Eternally wounded from his own World Cup horror show, former Wallaby loose forward Stephen Hoiles believes less Australian Super Rugby teams is one answer to the country’s spectacular fall from grace.
The Wallabies are on the brink of a humiliating group-stage elimination after backing up their first loss to Fiji in 69 years with a record 6-40 drubbing at the hands of Wales.
Fans are calling for Eddie Jones’s head after the coach’s decision to pick the World Cup’s youngest squad backfired in the most extraordinary fashion.
Hoiles, who played just one Test after being a member of Australia’s previously worst World Cup campaign in 2007, reckons cutting one of Australia’s five Super Rugby teams would be a major help in restoring depth and credibility to the national team.
Between the Brumbies, Waratahs, Queensland Reds, Melbourne Rebels and Western Force, Australian sides have won only a handful of games against New Zealand opposition in the past decade.
Battered psychologically even before taking to the field, generations of Wallabies players have failed for 20 years to win back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks, let alone challenge for global supremacy.
“I feel for the players because some of these guys they’re not ready for Test rugby yet and that’s not to be mean or personal about it,” Hoiles told Stan Sport.
“And too many of them haven’t played well enough at Super Rugby. We’ve got five Super Rugby sides that have been [mediocre].
“The Brumbies have been the most successful over the last sort of five to eight years. The Tahs have had glimpses of success eight, nine years ago, the Reds 11, 12 years ago. Besides that, we’re in a failing Super Rugby system.
“So as much as we can look at the coaches and go, ‘yeah, let’s change that’, it’s the players that are out there that haven’t got the time in the saddle to be consistent.
“I look at this side – and I don’t like to use this word lightly – as a bunch of kids playing against men and we took our men out of this campaign and said, let’s put more kids in and let’s let them learn from this and they’ll get better from it.
“Sadly, they might not get better. I lost a quarterfinal. That’s all I’m carrying. I’m scarred from losing a quarterfinal. I was 26. I thought I’d get another crack. I didn’t. Some of these guys may not recover from this.”
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Hoiles, now a successful coach who guided Randwick to a drought-breaking first Sydney club rugby premiership this year since 2004, says Rugby Australia has only itself to blame.
“I say it on TV, getting paid from TV – broadcast wants more games and more products and more teams – but more teams makes us unsuccessful and it hasn’t helped for a long time.
“I played at the Brumbies, I played at the Waratahs. If it meant getting rid of one of them to make Australian rugby better, I’d be all for it because we don’t have the depth and talent to play this many players at a professional level,” he said.
“All the Super teams are doing at the moment are signing foreign players, so every side’s got five to six foreigners. Club footy’s thriving, school footy’s thriving.
“When I was over there last week, world rugby’s pumping. It is a very healthy game at a global level. We’re just not successful at state and national level at the moment.”