Andy Marinos has simple instructions to “get the game going” as he begins his new job as Rugby Australia boss.
But he knows that’ll be far easier said than done.
Formerly in charge of SANZAAR, the Zimbabwe-born, eight-Test Welsh centre officially started this week at RA headquarters, just days out from Super Rugby AU trial games and mere weeks from the season proper.
Making sure that goes ahead is his first task, with Western Australia’s border closure the latest spanner in the works as RA incorporates the return of the Western Force into the domestic fold.
Beyond that is a Super Rugby trans-Tasman initiative that will bring its own complications of international travel, while the Wallabies are due to host France for Tests in July.
Rugby Australia have also rolled out the red carpet for the British and Irish Lions and South Africa after that, if due to COVID-19 the Springboks are unable to host the famous squad on home soil.
Cameos as a coach for his son’s junior team, as well stints running the line as a touch judge, mean Marinos is speaking from experience when he says the grassroots connection must be strengthened too.
“To get the game going really,” he said when asked what RA’s board had asked of him.
“We’ve got to be realistic to understand that there are so many curve balls that come at us and it’s about making sure we have a domestic competition that’s up and running and functional.
“We’ve stepped away from Super Rugby for the foreseeable future so we need to make sure that we’ve got a very strong cross-border competition with our friends across the ditch and possible new entrants going forward.”
Reports out of Europe suggest their invitation to host the Lions, and allow both visiting teams to keep the profits, hadn’t been met with the enthusiasm RA had hoped.
“When it comes to the Lions, our main priority is to get our French tour underway and complete that tour,” Marinos said.
“If we can provide a safe haven or an environment where the British and Irish Lions tour can continue, why wouldn’t we?
“It’s so important for the global rugby economy and community that we have international rugby played with as little disruption as we could get throughout this year.
“If we can help in any way, we certainly will.”
Originally published 2 February 2021, 3:31 am