Australian Rugby has taken the Cork hurling's condition from last year: desperately hoping that this latest defeat is, in fact, rock bottom. Given that the most dejected thing in fortune has no fear and all that, describing a crushingly low ebb as rock bottom is really an act of optimism, as there is nowhere further to fall.
The Wallabies were beaten at home to Scotland on Saturday last, their first ever defeat to the Scots in Sydney. Ahead of the Rugby Championship, they now languish fifth in the world rankings, and one bereft Aussie fan, Jack Quigly, vented his anger on the squad's official Facebook page.
Here's an excerpt:
You hurt me. I have to go to work tomorrow. I’m not going to turn this into one of thoset 'they-earn-so-much-money-they-should-do-better' rants, because I know that our playing stocks are limited. Severely. But I have to go to work tomorrow, and I have to do with this sick feeling in my stomach that stems from the utter disappointment that is my national rugby team.
When I was a kid — hell, even now, I would’ve given my left nut just to pull on a Wallabies jumper, but when I see you guys run out, I feel like you don’t care. I KNOW you don’t care, because it shows. And don’t tell me I’m wrong. Don’t say that you DO care, because my response is that you don’t care ENOUGH! CLEARLY!
He later went on to say that he would be happy to drive from Lismore in New South Wales to Brisbane to address the players “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.”
Cheika confirmed he saw the post, and had it printed out and pinned on the wall of the dressing room.
He then told the assembled media that he had made contact with the fan. Fox Sports then corroborated the story with Quigley, who revealed the details of the conversation:
My phone rung and it was Cheik and he said: ‘Look, the letter was addressed to me and I wanted to be the first one to ring you.’
We spent a good half-hour on the phone. It was pretty honest and heart-to-heart.
He didn’t dodge any blame. I stuck to my guns and asked him a few hard questions, but he held his hand up and was really good about it and he actually encouraged me to save his number and call him back if things don’t improve, which was very good of him.
After, Quigley messaged Cheika to wish him the best, to which Cheika responded:
Mate, I’m the same as you, I’m just a pleb. I just happen to coach the team.
This was in reference to the original Facebook post, in which Quigley referred to himself as a pleb.
It was sort of a nice reference to the piece.
It sounded like he genuinely read it a few times through and he connected to a lot of parts of what I was angry about. This thing’s gone way bigger than I ever thought it was going to and to get a call from him is pretty surreal, to be honest.
Not only to get a call from him, but to get a call and actually punch out a real heart-to-heart about where I feel we’re failing and to have him have a chance to response was really great.
Australia face Italy in Brisbane on Saturday.