I think the 'whinging' of the ARU was entirely justified. In sending a second string side South Africa devalued and disrespected the entire Tri-Nations franchise. Sure, the World Cup's important. But if their top line players can't cope with one match each against Australia and New Zealand several months before the tournament then they're in a pretty sorry state. And remember, every rugby playing nation is competing in the same competition. What if the rest of them all decided no matches or tournaments were important enough to risk players in the year leading up to a WC? It was a bloody joke and SA should be ashamed. all of SANZAR have worked hard to make the Tri-Nations probably the most respected tournmament behind the WC and SA singlehandedly pulled it down.[/b]
I disagree. The mare fact that this so called B-team of South Africa remained competitive while touring both Australia and New Zealand (No easy requirement), goes to show how wrong your assessment is. I would have agreed that they were disrespecting the competition if Australia had destroyed the said team by more then 50 points not the end result which happened.
On top of this is the fact that with so few test matches each year, the ARU relies heavily ont he Tri-Nations matches to bring in revenue from bums on seats. Sending second string sides significantly lowers crowd numbers, which the ARU really can't afford. Remember, Union has to compete with three other football codes in Australia, most of which have higher player numbers and better overall funding. Given Australia's contributions to the Tri-Nations and global rugby in general over the years, SA's actions were a real slap in the face.
South Africa have 100 years of successful bruising rugby behind them of which their record rivals that of the All Blacks. They are a Rugby Giant to be respected no matter what team they field on the day.
As for the problems of the ARU. Perhaps if they stopped complaining about the team South Africa was selecting and started working on developing a successful competitive club competition in Australia which rivaled that of curry cup, the perhaps Australia too could field their "B" side without a major drop in player quality.