Sack 'Em All

Right now in Sydney the Blame Game is even more popular than Rugby. Calls for Michael Foley's sacking are emanating from every rugby mouthpiece and most of the players seem in the firing line too. But the Waratahs' travails this season go much deeper than that, and fingers must be pointed at all those who deserve the finger. Responsibility begins at the bottom.

So who is to blame for this wretched season? Everyone. And that includes you.


The coach: Michael Foley is a former Queensland hooker. Indeed he played 111 matches for Queensland despite being born and bred in Sydney and playing all his junior and even some club footy in Sydney. So clearly he's a confused soul lacking a true identity with any particular State. That he ended up in Queensland should be evidence enough that this was never going to work. The elite NSW Rugby culture is a unique one. Backroom machinations, corporate espionage and head office politics make the on-field battle look tame in comparison. Unless you've lived it your entire career, you'll never be able to manage it. It's clearly a job beyond Foley. He has to go.

The players: Unable or unwilling to listen, play a full 80 minutes, excite crowds and win matches, the Waratahs this season have been rudderless and exasperating. The reality in all sports is that a coach's impact is limited to the ability of the cattle on the field and their skill and executing a plan. Either the physical ability is lacking or the intelligence doesn't exist. Either way, a team should be greater than the sum of its parts. The Waratahs are not only less than the sum of their parts but most of their parts need servicing or replacing. It's time to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. Dare we say it - Brumbies style?

The spectators: If there was an award for fickleness then Waratahs supporters would win it every year. A few poor results, a couple of uninspiring ugly wins and crowd numbers drop at the Sydney Football Stadium faster than Stephanie Rice dumping Quade Cooper. Even the threat of rain in Mosman or Vaucluse can have potential spectators scurrying back to the warmth of their mansions. It goes both ways. On the rare occasions the Tahs click, the bandwagon starts rolling and empty blue plastic seats become hard to find. Even when they do turn up Waratahs crowds are notoriously unemotional. Rather than the surge of energy from the crowd that teams rely on for support, the SFS is more a surge of chatter and hubbub. Get with it Tahs fans. Your team needs you in good times and bad, not just when the Crusaders are playing and the weather is warm and dry. 

The media: Broadsheets, tabloids, radio, TV, tweeters and bloggers (yes, even this one) have conspired to death-ride the Waratahs. Sure it makes for amusing viewing, listening and reading at times, and some of the most guilty rely on it for content (yep, guilty again), but it doesn't help the general mind-set of the populace or the players. If ever a team needed talking up it was this one. Little things count. A word of encouragement, congratulations when they're earned. Players read these things, even if their lips move when they do it. These are the things that can make the difference between winning and losing.

Tah Man: Let's face it Tah Man. It's not working. The kids find you amusing but to the people who count (those with disposable incomes) you're a distraction from the on-field action. Your absurd antics serve only to remind us all about those other clowns on the field. Whoever said that a team needs a mascot anyway? Once upon a time, a team ran onto the field, they played Rugby, and everyone watched it. Loud music, electronic scoreboards, cheerleaders, kick for cash competitions at half time, these are all just reminders to the players that people aren't coming just to watch them. Get rid of it all and the players will respond accordingly.

The Rugby Gods: Three matches lost by one point. Winning at one time during every match lost (perhaps). Freak injuries to key personnel. David Campese. It goes beyond the bounds of probability that these things could occur by chance. What have we done to forsake you O Rugby Gods? Who do we need to sacrifice to appease you? You can have Berrick Barnes. No really, please. OK fine. So take Tom Carter then if that's what it'll take.

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