It is with great honour and humility that I accept the position as President of the ASRU position, vacated by the retiring President Br Bob Wallace cfc AM. These are certainly ‘big’ shoes to fill – having regard for Bob’s enormous capacity to administer and lead such an esteemed organisation for many years. Bob’s knowledge of and love for Rugby is renowned as is the breadth and depth of relationships he has forged in all corners of our international game.
The timing of this changeover in personnel of the ASRU Committee is of course, not without both exciting and daunting challenges.
The Australian Rugby landscape is shifting as we explore new ways to compete at the school level with a crowded field of other worthwhile team sports in soccer, league and Australian rules. At the same time, our Super XV and Wallabies compete for success, for market share, for sponsorship and following by fans who demand trophies and accolades – now fewer and further between.
Our hope is to provide worthwhile Rugby experiences at the school level in each Australian state will support teams beyond school gates as well as the National Schools team.
Rugby Australia have cast their net wider across the junior development programs, I suspect, in a bit to add capacity to maintain our competitiveness as a sporting rugby nation. The establishment of Rugby Academies and changes to current funding models attempts to broaden the ability of U18 players to represent at the National level – as well as add skills development in critical years of rugby development. As our skills and pathways develop- the club, Super XV and Wallabies will continue to benefit from our ‘nursery’ into the future. The addition of Rugby academies is a welcome strategy to add to the Rugby landscape.
Our mantra should be one of shared wisdom and collaboration – not one of isolation and stagnation.
There will be challenging times ahead and we need to rise to this or we will surely become irrelevant and risk being pushed aside. Therefore, we must be open to change and find the best ways to collaborate with governing bodies.
It is my hope that we can add to our enthusiasm and ‘double-down’ on efforts to finance and promote pathways for all in this time of change.
We, like all modern World Unions, of necessity, need renewal to add to the great work done by the ASRU for the past 50 years. In building capacity at ARSU level we build a future for all levels of the game we love.
Again, my sincere gratitude to those who have paved a proud history – while also committing to a resilience that will keep the ASRU relevant and thriving for many years to come.