As 2016 ticks down, rugby.com.au is looking back at some of the biggest moments and storylines of the Australian rugby year.
Former Wallabies hit out at ARU
It was an ongoing debate for much of the year, and it’s a conflict that might not calm too soon - the distribution of funding to grassroots rugby.
Community funding became a cause that a number of high-profile former Wallabies and Test coaches weighed in on through 2016, as the conversation raged on.
Former Wallaby Brett Papworth was the most vocal of the ARU’s critics, voicing his views on a series of blogs, sticking up for club rugby and campaigning for more funding for the premier competitions.
Papworth initially disputed the lack of funding given to the Shute Shield and other premier club competition, after a bumper broadcast deal announce at the end of 2015.
The Eastwood president among others was critical of the lack of funding provided to club rugby initially and then as the year progressed drummed up support from a handful of former Wallabies to write a formal petition to the ARU board over the lack of grassroot funding.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said Papworth and the detractors were underestimating the money directed towards the grassroots, pointing to initiatives such as school program Game On and the non-contact VIVA7s.
Pulver was initially steadfast in his reply to Papworth’s criticism, saying it was not appropriate to funnel money into clubs, with the risk that they would spend any influx on paying players in an amateur competition.
This clash ultimately resulted in a meeting between representative from all levels of the game, with the ARU agreeing to review the community element of its strategic plan, a plan unveiled only months earlier.
While that was the conclusion in 2016, it seems this is a topic that will not be going away anytime soon.
Take a look back at the rest of the countdown.