Rugby administration is dreadful, says former Wallabies coach Alan Jones
FORMER Wallabies coach Alan Jones has slammed the state of Australian rugby, labelling its administration as "dreadful”.
The radio broadcaster, who has made a return to rugby union coaching after a 30-year absence to lead the International Barbarians against the Wallabies, said while the national side was in "good shape”, poor decisions were costing the game.
"The current state of Australian rugby, if you're talking about administration, is dreadful. And there's no indication it's likely to change,” said Jones, who coached the Wallabies to a Bledisloe Cup win during his time at the helm from 1984-87.
"Wallabies are in good shape, but unless we cultivate the grassroots level, the clubs and schools, the numbers in the game are going to significantly dwindle. That will cost the game significantly as a national sport, and abolishing the Western Force is a laugh, an absolute joke.
Jones, speaking from Barbarians' training at Casuarina Beach Rugby Club ahead of their clash with the Classic Wallabies in Lismore on Tuesday night, said he believed the Wallabies were on the right path, and would flourish outside of Australia.
After gaining confidence from their 23-18 Bledisloe Cup dead-rubber win over the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, Jones believes the Wallabies could now believe they can beat anybody.
"I said prior to the All Black game, that the Wallabies are a far better side than given credit for,” Jones said.
"I thought they could win that, they did, now they might understand they can beat anybody. I don't think they had that belief at the time.”
"Now they'll go away (on tour) and they'll be five times better when they get away from all this rubbish here. I think there's every possibility they won't be beaten on their European tour.”
One player Jones believes is greatly affected by the "rugby league” style of the modern game is axed-Wallaby Quade Cooper, who has returned from exile to suit up for the Barbarians.
Jones said Cooper, who played 70 tests for Australia, would be unleashed with a free-reign to play his natural game.
"I've always been an admirer of Quade's, he's a gentleman and that's not generally acknowledged,” he said.
"He's got free reign tomorrow and he's free to make mistakes. So I hope we'll see the real Quade Cooper as he's a wonderful support player and a beautiful kick of the footy.
"He's very gifted and his gift and talents have been compromised, but he's got the lot, Quade.”
Over 100 fans jammed into Casuarina on Monday afternoon to watch the training, which Jones said showed there was still interest in the sport at the grassroots level.
With the Barbarians to face a Classic Wallabies side featuring former internationals in Stephen Hoiles, Radike Samo, Morgan Turinui and coach Owen Finegan in Lismore, ahead of their clash with the Wallabies next weekend, Jones is confident the side would be able to adapt to his fast style of play, despite the side's limited preparation time.
"They have to enjoy it and honour the tradition of the barbarians. We hope we'll be able to attack from the breakdown and play with the football,” Jones said.
"These players have a lot of skill and talent, and it's an opportunity for them to show it. But If this generates some interest at the grassroots level, then that's a good thing.
"The game needs an injection and the Barbarians have an historic tradition of playing an (exciting) brand of rugby. Whether we'll be able to do that in a short space of time or not, the boys are keen to play the brand of rugby I'd like to play.”