RugbyWA 2018 Overview
As the year winds down and we all look to spending time with family and friends over the festive season, we at RugbyWA thought a year end wrap-up might add to the occasion. What a difference a Year has made!
You will recall this time in December last year RugbyWA had just emerged from Voluntary Administration forced upon us by Rugby Australia’s axing of the Western Force and their subsequent attempts to pursue us for legal costs. Emerge we did but in a very tenuous financial state.
In 2018 we set ourselves a number of primary life preserving goals:
1. Secure co-tenancy agreements to ensure we were able to retain the Lease of RugbyWA Headquarters.
2. Maintain the Future Force Academy and associated Pathway programmes.
3. Secure guarantees from Rugby Australia for the future of our NRC Team.
4. Do all we could to support the new Western Force/World Series Rugby program.
5. Achieve all the above and deliver at worst a break financial year.
RugbyWA HQ: The first major challenge at the start of the year was to retain our position operating out of the Rugby WA building. This facility is the home to Rugby in the State and is of paramount importance to our Pathway and Professional programs. Pleasingly this has been successfully achieved over the year with the development of a wider tenancy sharing arrangement with Perth Glory and the new Western Force (WF). This is now potentially expanding to also be the home of Global Rapid Rugby. Apart from the significant cost sharing benefits this also means that RugbyWA Headquarters will remain, for the foreseeable future, the Centre of Excellence for Rugby in our State.
High Performance Pathway (HPP) plan and academies: Through 2018 in conjunction with the WF, Rugby AU, Minderoo and the Future Force Foundation (FFF), Rugby WA have been able to evolve a strong partnership with all Rugby stakeholders to design, sustain and further evolve the HPP in the state. Established and professionally managed pathways now exist for all our talented youth (male and female) to stay in WA and play to the highest levels. No other State including the big 2 have an HPP to compare with WA.
At the higher pathway level seven (7) Future Force Academy players were selected in the Under 20s Junior Wallabies squad and in addition Carlo Tizzano and Jackson Pugh were selected in the National Under 18’s squad now successfully touring the UK. Our female athletes have also shone brightly with currently 8 WA athletes in the Wallaroo training squad. In terms of professional pathway, 2018 Future Force Academy graduates Ben Grant and Carlo Tizzano have recently joined the Western Force squad as full professionals, evidence our HPP program is delivering the goods.
National Rugby Championships: With the support of Minderoo and the new Western Force we fielded a very strong team in the NRC losing narrowly to eventual winners Fiji Drua in the semi-finals. The “Sea of Blue” support of the team and our ability to “Fill the Hill” became legendary in the competition and certainly stands as a benchmark for other teams Nationally. The NRC provided a number of opportunities for Academy players and Community Rugby standouts to take the next step to higher honours. We will be back next year better and stronger, when we hope to raise the trophy for WA.
Professional Rugby: The exciting developments through the year with the “new” Western Force, WSR and now GRR have been a strong focus of the Board and team at Rugby WA to assist and support wherever possible. Throughout 2018 we have built a very solid partnership with the entities as they have evolved the rugby model and footprint of the future. We look forward to continuing to support and enjoy the growth of this new “Force” in Rugby in WA and up into the region.
Financial Status: Successfully out of VA we developed a business plan in 2018 that absorbed the change in lost revenues and increased costs resulting from the axing of the Force. The focus was on developing a number of Rugby WA supporting partnerships and restructuring overheads.
As mentioned previously Western Force and Perth Glory as tenant partners assisted greatly with retaining our home address. We have also further evolved relationships with a variety of excellent partners including; ICWA, Healthway, DLGSC, Rugby AU, Minderoo, FMG, Rhino and of course the Rugby WA Juniors community. These have been built up throughout the year, with the majority now committed into 2019 and beyond, with all assisting to build the robustness of the longer-term business plan in support of delivering the new strategic plan. This has seen a modest profit for the year, a little better than the “break even” target.
During the year we also welcomed new Board Members Francis Williams (taking up the role as President) and Alison Foskett and Kevin Russell broadening our base of expertise. We farewell outgoing President Hans Sauer and thanked Hans for his many years of service and dedication. With the new Board in place we set about planning for the future. Our Primary goals were;
➢ Creating a new Strategic Plan
➢ Updating the RugbyWA Constitution
➢ Increasing player participation
➢ Developing new game entry opportunities
Strategic Plan: With the transition of the Board from focusing on the governance of both a Professional rugby franchise (Western Force) and Community Rugby, the attention has now shifted to a focus on the evolution of a new 5-year strategic plan for Rugby in this state. The Plan has been developed by members of the Board and Management with consultation from Community Rugby and other Stakeholders. The one-page summarised version attached is provided to communicate the plan to all stakeholders and Rugby enthusiasts and will continue to provide the framework for the work and operations of the Board, CRAC and the Rugby WA staff well into the future.
New Constitution: We were required by Legislation and a need to better align the Constitution with Rugby WA’s revised role in the new “Post Force” order. After extensive and broad consultation with all Rugby Stakeholders a new Constitution has been developed and in the new year we will work through the formal EGM process to ratify and formally approve this by the membership, and Department of Commerce. In developing this updated version particular thanks goes out to Lavan who have continued to provide invaluable legal support to RugbyWA.
Participation and Competitions: While the actual participation numbers in our community game at both senior and junior level took a bit of a knock this year, we are confident that with the continued development of both the competition’s formats from 2018, that 2019 will see this drop rectified and clubs continuing to build a strong and positive community base. With the learnings from both juniors and seniors on board for 2019 the XV’s format of competitions is set to evolve at all levels. Furthermore, the new administration system of “Rugby Xplorer” that will be introduced in the new year, is shaping up to make life very much easier and effective at all levels from the individual participant experience to the club and state administrators.
Development: 2018 has been a standout year in development activities. With the generous support of Minderoo the evolution of Rugby Roos as a program in schools and clubs made an impressive start in 2018. This has been supported by the continued operations of the RugbyWA development officers at multiple schools across both WA and the Perth metro area, which has seen the positive link of school rugby activities to those conducted at clubs. This will further evolve in the new year and club preseason period with up to 9 clubs already signed up to conduct Try Rugby Roos programs at their clubs in the lead up and preparation for season 2019.
Fees: While we are awaiting confirmation of the final insurance levels from the insurance brokers for 2019, the only other variation to participation fees at the state level for 2019 will be the addition of a small increase to the Seniors fee by $10. Juniors will remain at the same levels as 2018. This increase for seniors is part of the necessary business planning required to support the overall operations of Rugby WA in all functions. More importantly it will be directed toward ensuring we build a high-quality digital capture of our senior matches that can assist with ensuring positive communication of all facets of the games. Including safety governance, judiciary and most importantly the highlights reel of WA Rugby that promotes the game in support of all clubs and players. More details on this will be provided once all facets of the partnership for this capability are finalised.
Media and information: The relevance of communicating that Rugby is alive and well in the state has never been more important and Rugby WA will continue to evolve and develop this capability, in order to assist all clubs to promote their own activities and achievements, while also communicating on a national basis with Rugby AU support.
On behalf of the Board and Management we thank all club leaders and affiliated Rugby associations, Juniors and Referee’s in particular for their tireless work in managing the game they play in heaven. We are confident that with the challenges of 2017 well behind us, and the consolidation of our operations through 2018, we will see Rugby in WA progress into 2019 and beyond in a very positive way.
All the best to you and your families.
On behalf of the Rugby WA Board.