SYDNEY (Reuters) - Three of Australia's Super Rugby coaches have backed calls for a brains trust of the great and good of the game to help halt the current slump at provincial level.
Australia's five Super Rugby teams have mustered up only 11 wins out of 47 matches between them so far this season and only three of those have come against foreign opposition.
On Saturday night, the 2014 champion New South Wales Waratahs suffered a 40-33 defeat at the hands of the Auckland Blues, the worst performing of the five New Zealand teams.
The Waratahs' loss, their fourth straight at home, gave New Zealand teams a 17-0 record against Australian opposition this season and appears to have concentrated minds.
Queensland Reds coach Nick Stiles, Tony McGahan of the Melbourne Rebels and Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson all told The Australian newspaper that they backed the idea of roping in the coaches who helped define Australian rugby to help out.
The Super Rugby coaches have already planned a get-together with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika during the June test window but the new initiative could see the likes of Rod Macqueen, Bob Dwyer, Alan Jones and John Connolly offering their ideas.
"People like that have some very valuable knowledge and we'd be silly if we didn't embrace them," Stiles told the paper.
It is not just the results but the poor quality of rugby on display that is causing such despair in a country that considers itself the home of running rugby.
World Cup winners Dwyer and Macqueen, as well as their fellow former Wallabies coaches Jones and Connolly, were always expected to prepare sides that could not only take on and beat the best in the world, but also play an exciting brand of the game.
Blues coach Tana Umaga suggested the continuing uncertainty over which Super Rugby franchise, the Western Force or Melbourne Rebels, would be dumped for next season had cast a malaise over the whole Australian game.
"We all know that there's been some tough things going on over here and not just on the field, obviously off the field, so that's unsettling," Umaga said.
"There's some quality players and staff involved in these groups and they'll get it back on track, but I suppose what everyone's looking for is a decision to be made so everyone can know what's happening."
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Peter Rutherford