Rugby Australia’s new chief executive has placed the onus squarely on the Wallabies to lift their game, saying the success of the national team is critical to reviving the flagging code’s fortunes within Australia’s fiercely competitive sporting market.
Zimbabwe-born former Wales international Andy Marinos formally took over from interim CEO Rob Clarke on Monday and nominated the results of the sixth-ranked Wallabies, as well as those of the Wallaroos and men’s and women’s sevens teams, as paramount.
Marinos concedes rugby trails the AFL and NRL among the football codes and the only way to improve its position in the pecking order is by winning more games at the elite level.
“It’s inextricably related. You can’t be successful off the field if you’re not successful on the field,” Marinos said.
“So that’s our biggest challenge. To improve our high performance and get a more competitive and winning team.
“That makes the rest of the business a lot easier to manage and drive commercial value.
“We’re wanting to get out and grow the game in the community; well, people need heroes.
“People need aspirations and we can only really achieve that if we’ve got a winning women’s team and a winning XVs team and winning sevens teams.”
Marinos felt the Wallabies made some positive progress during the truncated Tri Nations championship, bouncing back from a record 43-5 loss to the All Blacks with a rare victory over the New Zealand juggernaut.
But he lamented the Wallabies’ lack of a “cutting edge” and inability to close out games after two drawn Tests with Argentina.
Former SANZAAR boss Marinos blamed inexperience and an unstable team “spine” for the stalemates.
The fractured relationship between Marinos’s predecessor Raelene Castle and former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika culminated in Australia’s worst-ever World Cup showing two years ago.
Marinos, though, insisted he wouldn’t tread on Dave Rennie’s toes or weigh into team selections while also making it clear that the coach would be very much accountable for the Wallabies’ results.
“That’s certainly not my role or not my style to go and stick my nose in and tell him what to do,” Marinos said.
“I’ll be there more as a sounding board, to bounce off if he has any ideas or thoughts and at times just to share my view.
“I fully respect that he’s got a role and a job to do and I’m going to performance manage him against that to make sure that he delivers against the standards that we’ve set.
“At the end of the day, we’re all part of the same team. If he wins on the field, we win off the field – and vice versa.”