We love it here and we?ll be back
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
The Wallabies are scaling down their commitment to spending time in 2007 at the camp set up at Pacific Bay Resort.
Upon revealing the full truth of the situation though, it becomes clear that it is far from the end of the partnership between the ARU and Coffs Harbour City Council.
Under the current agreement with Coffs Harbour City Council, the Wallabies are contracted to use the training facility for the 2007 season.
However, the ARU and the council have agreed for the final year of the three-year deal, which was signed in 2005, to be carried over to 2008.
Wallabies coach John Connolly was quick to point out at yesterday's press conference that the decrease in time that the team will spend in Coffs Harbour should in no way be seen as a reflection of the team's or ARU's attitude toward the relevance of the facilities at Pacific Bay.
"The fact that we're unable to just fit in with the calendar is the truth," Connolly said.
"With the congested year we've got because the World Cup is starting early, the Super 14 final is on one Saturday and then Australia has four tests on the bounce, four weeks in a row after that. That means we don't have a window leading into the June tests and with the World Cup in November, we haven't got a window for a normal eight or nine days either leading into that."
This year, the team's commitment to Coffs Harbour after Connolly took over the coaching reins from Eddie Jones decreased but Connolly insists that this policy was due to better balancing the benefits of a camp facility with the business reality of needing to promote the team in cities prior to a match.
In 2007, the greater absence of the team is simply because of the busy schedule of the nine tests that has been mapped out for the squad prior to the World Cup.
"From the last Tri-Nations game to when we leave for the World Cup is four weeks, the players will have three weeks at home, we will have a get together somewhere for a few days but in terms of being able to use the facility, it's very difficult with the year but it is very important to the Wallabies being here," the coach added.
Coffs Harbour City Council general manager Stephen Sawtell said yesterday that the city hadn't lost out under the new arrangement.
"The 2007 year basically transfers into 2008," he said.
"We will see some of them next year but it's no fault of the Wallabies that they're playing so many games. They're in Europe, they're highly committed and they're also committed to us in that partnership.
"In a good partnership, no-one turns their back on the other partner, so we look forward to 2008 where we just transfer a lot of those commitments over from 2007."
Sawtell also pointed out that the success of Coffs Harbour's relationship with the Wallabies meant that the City would certainly be placing a bid for the next contract that the ARU will be negotiating for home-away-from-home rights.
If successful, Connolly wouldn't be disappointed with an extension of the partnership.