Personally, I blame the jersey — and so does everyone in the exhaustive straw poll of four other rugby fans I’ve contacted.

Imagine for one moment that you’re in the pressure cooker of a test match against the Springboks instead of lumbering around in fourth grade subbies. You have the ball, several green monsters are about to smash you, you turn to pass to…someone wearing a man bra. On top of his jumper. Or in the nanosecond before the ball leaves your hands, maybe it seems your team mate actually has his t*ts out.

That’s all it takes. The pass wobbles or skews high and behind or bounces along the turf. How can you play the highest level rugby with a team in man-bras?

The Wallabies couldn’t for the first quarter of Saturday night’s effort, slipping to 0-17 against South Africa B before overcoming the fashion folly to take it 25-17.

The look didn’t work for Kramer in the Seinfeld The Doorman episode and it doesn’t work for the Wallabies or their fans now.

What’s worse for the ARU, it will hurt at the cash register. The Wallabies are paid to wear the jersey — their fans won’t pay to do so. The Terror asked for reaction to the new jumper and received unanimous disapproval, with a recurrent theme being that no-one will buy it.

The loss of merchandise income comes on top of only 51,174 at the Springbok match, the half-empty Subiaco oval for the Fiji test and plenty of spare seats at the Welsh tests. Just as well there were All Black fans around to prevent the MCG stands looking empty.

Just as well rugby has managed to latch onto the taxpayer’s t*t in this election year, like the top level of the other professional codes, copping $25 million for letting John Howard be booed at post-match presentations.

The returning ARU CEO John O’Neill has to be given the benefit of the doubt on the man-bra jumper. It was probably a bad decision taken before his comeback, but it’s hopefully it’s not too late to fix.

Go for it John, show the leadership the ARU has been lacking and get some solid gold on that jumper instead of the mesh that looks pink on television.

And don’t forget the company responsible — Canterbury — is Kiwi to the core. I smell a conspiracy.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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