Communications and public relations students looking for a
case study in failed crisis/issues management should lock in the Australian
Rugby League’s latest disaster while it’s still fresh and available.
On Monday, Ricky Stuart was hastily named as the
Kangaroos’ rugby league coach to divert attention from media revelations
concerning booze drinking in the game, and during the recent Kangaroos tour in
Three days of headlines later, the “boozing players”
story is bigger than ever. And so it should be. Yesterday the man who wanted to keep the story alive,
Wayne Bennett, really kicked it along with a call to Brisbane’s top rating
radio breakfast program on 4BC.
What fired up Bennett was the claim by the ARL Chairman, Colin Love,
that new Kangaroos coach, Ricky Stuart, was younger and might better relate to
players and deal with the “drinking culture” issue.
The non-drinker Bennett was absolutely furious. And he
proceeded to give players, coaches and administrators both barrels.
He slammed the level of binge drinking among players,
and pointedly referred to the not inconsiderable number of Roosters players –
coached by Stuart – who have made the headlines for all the wrong reasons in
recent years. And the fact that when Stuart was Blues coach this year, the team
had four full-time security guards!
But putting their little spat aside, the great news is
that rugby league officials can no longer ignore the reality that far too many
players are on the booze far too often.
Wayne Bennett’s media skills often leave much to be
desired. But his strategy to expose the ARL, and league
officialdom generally, has worked spectacularly. It’s a case study students
should grab now for next year.