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The Eichelbaum Report - a Translation
The Eichelbaum Report - a Translation
(a Rugbyheads exclusive!)
23 Jul 2002

The Eichelbaum Report provides an indepth analysis of the debacle that was the NZRFU's bid to be Australia's sub-host for the 2003 Rugby World Cup. It is a 57 page report full of legalize and technical jargon, much of which is bewildering to the average rugby punter (even Murray Mexted admitted he couldn't be bothered reading it).

(you can read the whole thing if you are really bored though.)

With this in mind we bring you (and Murray) an exclusive translation of the key conclusions of the report.


1. The form of the bid for RWC2003 submitted by ARU and NZRFU in 1997 was disadvantageous to NZRFU. The arrangements were open-ended and left NZRFU in a vulnerable position. It is doubtful however whether NZRFU could have obtained any better deal.

Translation: John Oneil and the ARU have been trying to screw NZ out of their role in the 2003 RWC since 1997 but the NZRFU were too dumb to see it.

2. Until the crisis, NZRFU did not strongly press a case for Government funding, but it is unlikely any stronger request would have been successful.

Translation: There was no political milage to be had from helping to fund the NZ involvement in the RWC but once it was obvious that there would be no NZ involvement no matter what NZ did the government jumped in and scored a few brownie points, after all, it's an election year.

3. A key factor in what went wrong was the breakdown of NZRFU’s relationships with IRB/ RWCL and ARU. A critical matter for NZRFU to address is the rebuilding of those relationships.

Translation: Dave and Murray don't play nicely with John and Vern, therefore Dave and Murray have been expelled from the NZRFU kindy.

4. From end October 2001 there was a known risk that RWCL might remove the hosting or sub-hosting rights.

Translation: By October 2001 John and Vern knew that they had us by the balls, unfortunately our boys have only just worked that out.

5. The bid was made on the basis of “clean” stadia, but at the outset the definition did not include boxes. Formally, they were not included until October 2001, but NZRFU knew from at least early July 2001 that RWCL would seek 100% of boxes. RWCL contributed to the problem by not defining its requirements sooner.

Translation: The NZRFU thought things were sweet because all their stadia were already very neat, and Dave and Murray were both very well domesticated. Once Vern and John found out about this they insisted that Dave and Murray make sure that all the corporate boxes were kept clean too. Anyone who has seen the state of a post-match corporate box knows full well that this is virtually impossible. We were screwed.

6. The crisis arose because when RWCL required delivery of all the boxes, NZRFU was unable to deliver them, on account of previous contractual commitments made to boxholders with NZRFU’s knowledge.

Translation: John and Vern had out-smarted Dave and Murray again.

7. NZRFU had not taken any steps to obtain access to the boxes, relying on its chairman’s belief that in November 2001 he had reached an arrangement with the chair of RWCL, Mr Pugh that a “pragmatic solution” would be found.

Translation: As with the definition of "clean stadia" Vern neglected to clearly define "pragmatic solution". What he really meant was "Don't worry about it Murray, John has just told me that the RWCL will make far more money if we host everything in Aussie."

8. Mr Pugh did not agree with Mr McCaw’s understanding of their discussion. It had not been confirmed in writing and when asked for confirmation Mr Pugh had responded on 18 November that provision of clean venues was a fundamental condition.

Translation: Vern proves the business value of being diagnosed with selective Alzheimers.

9. The NZRFU Board was unaware of Mr Pugh’s reply but otherwise was kept informed as critical events developed. Except for the public attacks on Mr Pugh, all significant executive actions regarding RWC were authorised by the Board.

Translation: The NZRFU Board add further proof to the business value of being diagnosed with selective Alzheimers, and although they won't admit to ok'ing the public attacks they quite enjoyed that bit.

10. NZRFU considered breach of the clean venues condition exposed it to a liability of up to $A10m. A risk of that magnitude should not have been left dependent on an unconfirmed oral understanding.

Translation: the NZRFU finally worked out that they had been shafted and for once show some business savvy, even though they thought "unconfirmed oral understanding" sounded a bit rude.

11. In any event the minimal proportion of boxes available would not have satisfied RWCL requirements. NZRFU should have pursued obtaining boxes vigorously at an earlier stage.

Translation: The RWCL and their hazy "clean stadia" definition proved to be the best trick since Andy Haden fell out of a lineout, and unfortunately for the NZ rugby public Murray and Dave share something with referee Roger Quittenton, they fell for it.

12. Given a deadline of 8 March 2002 to sign the sub-host agreement in the form acceptable to RWCL, NZRFU declined to sign and instead offered an amended document containing protective provisions. RWCL then entered into a negotiation with ARU, as it had said it would. RWCL recommended ARU’s bid to host RWC alone. On 18 April IRB rejected NZRFU’s submissions and accepted the ARU bid.

Translation: At the stroke of midnight Murray and Dave tried to bluff their way back into the game, forgetting that Vern and his mates owned the pack and John was more than happy to let them play at his place. Murray and Dave tried in vain to get back into the game but eventually the IRB bouncers gave them a good spanking and tossed them out on the street.

13. The NZRFU Board had adopted a cautious approach towards sub-hosting RWC2003. It was unwilling to do so at any cost. NZRFU gave the appearance of not being fully committed to sub-hosting RWC. The perception was that it did not allocate sufficient administrative resources. NZRFU’s persistence in seeking approval to play NPC matches during the RWC period was with the best interests of provincial rugby in mind but created the impression that NZRFU did not properly value the opportunity to host RWC.

Translation: The NZRFU knew that NPC rugby was far more entertaining than most test matches but they shouldn't have admitted it.

14. By 8 March, RWCL and ARU had lost confidence in NZRFU. Although NZRFU made every effort to recover its position it had minimal chances of success and these disappeared with the personal media attacks Messrs McCaw and Rutherford made on Mr Pugh.

Translation: Once RWCL had called the NZRFU's bluff they knew they had won, Dave and Murray could have offered to lend Jonah and Cully to the English team and they still wouldn't have got a look in. Name-calling can be fun, but it's not a great way to make friends.

15. NZRFU did not have a viable strategy ready in case its 8 March counter-offer was rejected. If it was to continue to press a case for sub-hosting, the attacks were bad tactics. In any event they were inexcusable, and damaged NZRFU’s credibility.

Translation: When the only idea you can come up with is completely implausible then calling the other guy names is generally your only option. Of course name-calling can be fun, but it's still not a great way to make friends.

16. On 5 April NZRFU in fact signed SHUA in its unamended form, but it was too late to change the outcome.

Translation: When all you have left is your principles, no matter how unsatisfying they may be, why not grovel them away too.

17. No actions by Messrs Fisher or Gresson, in their capacity as NZ representatives on IRB (and, in Mr Fisher’s case, a director of RWCL) contributed to the loss of the sub-hosting.

Translation: No actions by Messrs Fisher or Gresson actually helped us hold onto the sub-hosting contract either.

18. Although my Report criticises actions and decisions by NZRFU, other factors contributed to the outcome. Both the New Zealand and Australian Unions played a part in the breakdown of relations between them. Administrative deficiencies of RWCL contributed to the final crisis.

Translation: Dave and Murray can't take all the credit for this debacle, but Vern and John would like to thank them kindly for playing into their hands.

As a result of this report both David Rutherford (CEO of the NZRFU) and Murray McCaw (Chairman of the NZRFU Board) have resigned.

Given the history of this whole sorry affair this seems most appropriate, although it's interesting that they waited until the report was tabled before they jumped.

At present Rob Fischer has stepped into the Chairman position and Steve Tew has taken on a caretaker CEO role. Given the sort of slippery customers that obviously hang out in the upper echelons of the rugby heirarchy maybe Andy "Hollywood" Hayden and Richard "eye-gouge" Loe should take on these top two positions, I'm sure they would give John and Vern a run for their money.

In any case, here at Rugbyheads we think it's time to put this whole debacle to rest and get back to focusing on what is happening on the field. In particular we are hoping that some onfield justice might come out of all this political injustice (all be it largely self-induced injustice). The All Blacks can provide the best possible payback by marching over to John Oneil's backyard next year, kicking some ass (Aussie, Pommy, French we don't care) and bringing the World Cup back home to their loyal supporters in the spiritual home of rugby, the land of the long white cloud.


Let us know what you think!

What does this Eichelbaum guy know about rugby anyway? Surely I would be better qualified to sort out this mess!

Come to think of it maybe I should apply for that CEO job that Steve Tew is currently looking after...

Supposedly this article has been viewed 1905 times since we bothered to start counting*.
(Although it could have just been on the Reload button doing some serious ego padding!)