Australian fan's impassioned plea to struggling Wallabies players heard by coach Michael Cheika
Following Australia's shock loss to Scotland on Saturday afternoon, one die-hard Wallabies fan finally had enough.
Jack Quigley, a 29-year-old who plays, referees and coaches in the Far North Coast Rugby Union competition, wrote a lengthy Facebook post late on Saturday night after the 24-19 defeat at the hands of a depleted Scottish side. The post had amassed over 40,000 likes by Monday afternoon and nearly 5000 shares.
The post got the attention of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and he admits Quigley rose some relevant issues and said he shared the same emotions.
Cheika spoke to Quigley over the phone on Monday.
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Cheika said he had also stuck the post on the walls of Ballymore, where the team is training ahead of Saturday's Test against Italy at Suncorp Stadium.
Quigley's post certainly hit home to many fans.
"I live in Lismore, NSW, it's a two hour drive to Brisbane. I'm willing to drive to Brisbane this week and address the squad. For 15 minutes. That's all I'll need. Then I'll turn around and drive home again. Because i feel like you've lost touch with the common man," he wrote.
"Give me 15 minutes. That's all I want. To look these guys in the eye and tell them WHAT IT MEANS to be a rugby fan in this country. Because they don't know. They're not fans. They're players and coaches. That's different. They don't know."
The die-hard fan told Fairfax Media on Sunday evening that the post was probably a combination of 15 years of frustration and the "16 beers" he'd had since the 3pm game had ended.
"I woke up [on Sunday morning] checked my Facebook and I just had a gazillion notifications. Obviously I hit a nerve with some people; there's something in what I've written that a lot of people relate to – and that's great," he said.
"The Wallabies at the moment are a microcosm of what is wrong with the ARU and the disconnect between the grass roots and the top ... I feel like I'm getting further and further away from them.
"This is professional sport; you've got to adapt or die. And at the moment it seems like we're taking the latter option."
Quigley took aim at Bernard Foley's goalkicking, the inability of the forwards to get it right from set pieces, and the comedy of handing out a man of the match award to anyone in green and gold after the performance.
He accused the side of 'living off' the 2015 World Cup, in which Australia edged past Scotland and then beat Argentina before losing to New Zealand in the final. Since that tournament, the Wallabies have played 17 times and claimed victory on just seven occasions. They were trounced 3-0 in the Cook Cup series against England, and were also whitewashed in the Bledisloe Cup series.
A November tour of Europe saw them beat Wales, Scotland and France before tasting defeat at the hands of both England and Ireland.
"It's the basic skill set that's worrying me. How are guys getting to the international level without being able to pass left to right and right to left? It's not Michael Cheika's fault – he can only work with the guys he's given."
But will Quigley be watching when the Wallabies take on Italy next week?
"Of course I will, because I'm a bloody idiot – this is what it means to be a tragic sports fan!"
- Sydney Morning Herald/AAP