A Rugby Australia survey aimed at reconnecting with grassroot fans, players and officials has been slammed as a waste of time and money amid complaints it concentrates too much on "woke subjects" rather than fixing the problems slowly suffocating the game. The National Participation Survey is open to anyone involved with community rugby in 2023, with a list of 28 questions asking contributors for a range of views on matters such as fan behaviour, refereeing standards and ground facilities.
The questionnaire also veered into areas many fans thought were irrelevant to the core problems afflicting the code in Australia. The Wallabies' poor World Cup showing and fallout and controversy over the future of coach Eddie Jones has left the game on its knees.
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The two survey questions causing contention and mild offence are: Did your club host an event with the purpose of celebrating inclusion and diversity in 2023? E.g. First Nations round, Pride Round etc.
Were you satisfied that your club made efforts to consider the culture of players, coaches, officials, and volunteers and seek to learn about what is appropriate in those cultures? The survey also asked: "Have you experienced any of the following: racism, violence, bullying, harassment, discrimination, or antisocial behaviour at a Rugby club in 2023?"
Aussie rugby fans take aim at survey questions
"That was pretty much a 'lefty, go nowhere' survey. We all know that those involved in the subject matter of the survey do their level best to provide what they can for fans and players...It is the upper levels of the sport, its future shape and strategic direction we need to have a say in... not whether we experienced racism in 2023," one participant wrote.
Another commented: "Lost me once woke questions were asked! Focus on Grassroots rugby, ignore tokenism. More worried about hurting people's feelings than the game, deleted after 10th minute."
RA CEO Phil Waugh has made no secret of his desire to re-engage with disillusioned rugby followers, admitting those at the coalface have been left out in the cold for too long.
"There's no doubt there's been a bit of a disconnect between that level of rugby and the professional levels and we need to work hard to make sure we're all going in the same direction," he told Yahoo Sport Australia shortly after his appointment.
"I will be getting out and about to the grassroots as much as possible as that is the lifeblood of our game."
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