The Australian Rugby Union spin machine is working flat out pretending the decision to play the single Australian leg of the Bledisloe Cup is about spreading the faith among the AFL heathen. “It’s crucial to the growth of rugby,” CEO Gary Flowers reportedly says.
Rubbish. It’s just about money and the extra tickets they can sell at the 100,000-seat refurbished MCG. In the process, both Bledisloe matches next year are effectively turned into away games for the Wallabies. The Victorian government’s own pretence of being interested in code is exposed as a sham by its refusal to support Melbourne as a venue for a leg of the IRB Sevens, letting it go to Adelaide instead.
In 2008 and 2010, Australia hosts two Bledisloes – years when it makes sense to play one game in Sydney and alternate between Brisbane and Melbourne for the other. (The Courier-Mail is reporting the decision in predictable Queensland context: “Brisbane has been snubbed…”)
Hold the phone… could there yet be a cunning plan hidden in the ARU money grab? The Wallabies have a miserable away record and could do with all the practice they can get in front of foreigners ahead of the World Cup in France later next year. The pearls before swine of the Melbourne Bledisloe next year in front of a horde of Kiwis, some confused locals and a few visiting Queenslanders and New South Welshmen could be part of the conditioning process.
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Nah – it’d just be the money. And it looks like the ARU will need all the cash it can get as the general lack of enthusiasm for their artificial national club competition next year shows signs of turning into something worse. Given the antipathy towards it in Sydney club land, sponsorship looks like being scarce. Would Steve Bracks like to kick in a few hundred thou’ of the taxpayers’ folding for that as well?