EXCLUSIVE: The ARU speaks to G&GR about changes to grassroots funding (Part 1) - Green and Gold Rugby
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EXCLUSIVE: The ARU speaks to G&GR about changes to grassroots funding (Part 1)

EXCLUSIVE: The ARU speaks to G&GR about changes to grassroots funding (Part 1)

The recent changes to the registration, insurance and payment structure of grassroots rugby has caused plenty of consternation in recent months. Letters have been written, words have been exchanged, and keyboards have been furiously pounded.

Until now the ARU have been relatively silent, despite the seemingly endless criticisms in the media from the affected parties. Critics claim the imposition of a ‘participation fee’ and changes to the insurance structure are a classic example of ARU bully-boy tactics, putting their own bottom line ahead of the health of the game. It’s been a one-way discussion, and the ARU’s silence on this issue had me stumped.

So when I was offered the chance to sit down with Andrew Larratt, the ARU’s General Manager for Participation and one of the architects of these changes, I took it with both hands – the ARU clearly recognising G&GR’s place as the online home of Australian grassroots rugby.

That's Andrew on the left, me on the right. And a delicious piece of bread in the middle.

That’s Andrew on the left, me on the right. And a delicious piece of banana bread in the middle.

Larratt came to the ARU in 2013 after spending most of his professional life in the world of cricket. As much as I was keen to play the probing journo, Frost to his Nixon, our 45 minute conversation was dominated by Larratt who seemed eager to discuss even the most divisive elements of this reform.

I am mindful of the fact that there are multiple sides to this story, and this is just one. I don’t want to appear as though I’m giving the ARU free rein, but I do think they have a story to tell here which is really yet to be told anywhere else. Through these articles I want to let Larratt’s views speak for themselves, with some background information and comment from myself. I did approach the NSWRU for comment on this issue, but they did not return my email.

It made sense to start from the start, at the inception of these changes, which came about after Bill Pulver called for a National Participation Review last year after concerns were raised over the long-term sustainability and stability of community rugby. The review started in June and was chaired by Jim Carmichael, the CEO of Queensland Rugby Union.

“We had representatives from across the member unions, and in actual fact what is not known in this review is that the changes were driven by the unions themselves. They realised that we needed to be able to stabilise the funding of community rugby, and be able to incentivise growth of participation. Not unlike other sports, rugby at club level has plateaued, and we need to look at more diverse, consumer-driven programs and ways to experience sport that are more flexible and less time-consuming,” Larratt said.

Exactly what went on behind the closed doors of the not fully known, with NSWRU Chairman Nick Farr-Jones stating in a letter to the ARU that ‘Concerns were raised with the review committee from the very first meeting in June’. But the member unions did have a seat at the table.

But I put it to Larratt that surely this had far more to do with the ARU’s well-publicised financial situation than participation levels. His response:

“It is a part of it. It’s important to have the financial stability to make decisions about where you are going to invest your funds to be able to grow the game. What we found was that rugby was really living off major windfalls (such as a World Cup or Lions tour) and then drawing down upon those funds to try and be able to sustain both the investment in community rugby and that in the professional game. What was happening was that that wasn’t going to be sustainable ten years out, and this review was set up to recalibrate the community side, not so it has to fund itself totally (the ARU still fund $3m into member unions for community rugby) but it was about how we come in line with a growing number of sports that employ a user-pay, individual approach to registration fees, so they have an involvement in the funding of their community game.”

“Not a cent goes to the ARU, but previously the ARU was funding the community level and they weren’t able to sustain that level of funding for the next ten years under the current business model. So we then worked to introduce a different business model which brings in contributions from a combination of broadcast rights, sponsorship and the community side coming through via player fees from registered players.”

'Sustaining Australian rugby since 2013'

‘Sustaining Australian rugby since 2013′

But Larratt did acknowledge that while the ARU don’t receive a cent of the new fees, they are spending less.

In reality though the National Participant Registration fee ($33 for adults, $27.50 for juniors aged 8-18 and $11 for under 6-7s) is the most palatable of the changes in clubland. Everyone knows the ARU is in the red, and a cursory glance at any other sport’s fees show that rugby is probably the cheapest contact sport to play: my Sydney Suburban club (Kings Old Boys) charged $260 last season, which also included a polo, shorts and socks. Nearby soccer club Lokomotiv Cove charged $410, while a season for the Pennant Hills Demons AFL club would have set you back $390. Rugby League club fees are also around the $350 mark.

Considering the billion-dollar TV deals of AFL and League, and their supposed excellent work at the grassroots, this is an interesting fact.

“I just paid for my kids’ seasons, one who plays soccer was charged $250, and rugby was only $180,” Larratt said.

“The money from the Participation fee will be directly retained by the member union. If the fees are paid online through Rugby Link they are deposited straight in their bank account. If they are offline the member union will run a report off Rugby Link and invoice the club for those who haven’t paid online. Every player has to be registered through Rugby Link to be insured and be able to be assigned to a team.”

So now we move on to insurance, easily the most controversial of the changes. Where previously clubs were charged a ‘per team’ rate, they now have to pay ‘per player’. Which is a struggle for a club like Kings Old Boys, who field up to 150 players a season over just four teams, with many transient players who just have a game or two (eg. A player’s mate who turned out on the wing because 4s were short one week).

Larratt is typically forthright: “I’d love to set this straight here if I can. In terms of insurance, we’ve made the decision to move to an individual rate and that is because it is linked with a whole business model and reform of how we administer, register and players pay fees across the board. What I mean by that is the registration fee is individual, the insurance is individual.

“We aren’t collecting any more money than we did, we are just using a different method. And in actual fact it was cheaper in 2014 than it was in 2013, dropping by $100 per team, and in 2004 it was over $2000 per team, and 10 years later it was $1790. So our insurance is best in breed, and getting cheaper.

“We are saying that the collection of insurance is not a club role- it is under the Australian Rugby Insurance plan, and that is a fee that is set and the individual pays that straight to the insurer. That’s where it is a shift in roles and responsibilities. In the positive we believe longer term it removes the liability from the club, same with the registration fee. We know that is going to take a bit of time to facilitate online.”

But clearly this will mean some teams will have to pay more, like Kings, who field a large number of players in a small number of teams. Larratt agrees.

We also have a waterboy on $50k a season

We also have a waterboy on $50k a season

“Yes, those clubs that have large number of players relative to the number of teams, it means that when you aggregate the individuals they will have to pay more. But there are clubs that are going to be less, because the distribution of costs is changing. So when I’ve stood in front of large competitions, I’ve had half of them adding it up in silence, and going ‘this is fine, we are better off’, and we have done all the numbers and we can see exactly where they are.”

So let’s do the maths then. Last year my club paid $7560 in insurance fees, and fielded 144 registered players (many of whom only played one game). This equates to $52.50 a player. Although initially a higher fee was proposed, the fee ‘per player’ for insurance is now $60. So our club would be out by $1080, or a fee increase of $7.50 a player. While some clubs may be worse off, certainly it wouldn’t be too harsh a sentence for Kings. And I can see how some would indeed pay less.

But while the ‘how’ is easy enough to understand, it’s the ‘why’ that I still didn’t quite get. The per team system was working well, so why change it?

“It’s a new business model, which involves taking different roles and responsibilities in the system at a National level, at a State level, at a competition level and at a participant level. At each level there are services that are provided, and what we want to do is ensure it clearly delineates whose role and responsibility, what the fees and value is for the service. In the case of insurance, to decouple that out and retain it on the old team model, which you could have arguments for, actually breaks the principles and philosophy of taking an individual approach.

“Any way you write it, I will be howled down from the club level to say ‘we own the player, we will collect all the money from them and we will pay the dues to the relevant bodies’. I suppose the big shift in this model is the participant, the player, is playing the game of rugby as a whole. And we all have different roles and responsibilities, and from the governance of the game at a national level to member union and so forth, it’s really important that we understand what our role and responsibility is.

“Some people will just pay the amount without asking, but others will be interested in seeing where their money is going. It drives transparency, it drives roles and responsibilities, and it drives ultimately a customer value approach.”

Breaking it all down, it’s about putting the onus on the individual, and clearly telling them where their money is going. The issues come when some people have to pay more money to accommodate these changes, when they cannot see an active, material benefit. And that is one of the reasons why certain corners of club land are howling.

In part 2 tomorrow we will look at the issue of communication and consultation, which has been the other major sticking point in this debate.

 

  • Pfitzy

    Good explanation really. The shift of responsibility to the individual is not necessarily something clubs are going to like – particularly those clubs where the practice of player registration is fairly loose.

    For those clubs who have trouble getting their players to pay, it hopefully gives them a bigger stick to collect the funds or bar players. Hard decision though – some clubs are struggling with the existing model, particularly as sponsors start counting pennies.

    Long-term, let’s continue to support the idea that this will be a good thing for the ARU and the short-term pain is worth it.

  • Gloss

    Nicely written mate. Have they considered the impact that the move to individual insurance will have to the player base? Rugby is fairly unique in that the vast majority of fans have actually played the game at some level. This is far less the case in League and AFL. There are a large number of rugby players who are dragged down for their first game by mates who’s team is short that week. Now clubs will have to pay over $80 to register these guys. Will the clubs cover this or will we ask players to pay to help us out when we need them?
    If the ARU are serious about looking after the long term sustainability of the game they should be making it cheaper to play so more future fans are created and not more expensive.

    • Hugh Cavill

      The ARU are aware of the issue you raise, and in part 2 tomorrow there is a bit on how they are looking to address that (the potential for a ‘casual’ rate covering one or two games only).

      Ultimately though given their financial position there is no chance of the game getting cheaper, especially considering they are already charging less than their rival codes.

      • Brendan Hume

        That’s the bit I don’t understand – the only driver to move away from a team based insurance is so the ARU can have a more direct relationship with the player. Clubs aren’t complaining because they want to “own the player”. Clubs work fucking hard to deliver the best outcome for their members. The vast majority of people working in clubs are volunteers. This change has made it much harder to administer the sport. For Andrew Larrett to contend that the “participant is playing the game of rugby as a whole” is fucking ludicrous. The ARU don’t buy jerseys, mow fields or coordinate coaches. That’s what clubs do.

    • Pfitzy

      I think one of the major points made is that rugby is already one of the cheaper sports to play at ANY level. My kid was playing U6 soccer a few years ago, where they didn’t even keep score, and it was $110 a year including shorts and socks. Similar setup in local TryRugby was less than $80.

      Club rego in soccer is ridiculous, and AFL isn’t far behind. Yet their participation rates are moving upwards.

      In other words, cost isn’t a barrier to entry.

      • Train Without A Station

        Don’t let these petty things facts get in the way of an argument that implies the ARU are greedy fat cats in their ivory tower though.

    • Train Without A Station

      You have to consider the writer’s comment about his club which fielded 144 players, many of whom only played 1 game.

      What is the game losing by losing these 1 game players? Based on the reduced playing numbers and supporter numbers of the game in general, clearly this isn’t helping grow the game.

      In the case of Hugh’s team, they are $7.50 per player worse off under the new system. If in 2015 they only field 100 players, because 144 of them were one game players (who never played again anyway) then they are $1560 better off, or $10.60 per player better off, because they aren’t carrying the can for one-offs.

      Also if players are committing financially, they are more likely to physically commit so it may lead to better, consistent numbers actually.

      • Gloss

        Having played and helped run the writer’s club I’m in a position to comment on that with come accuracy. In the club there would be about 100 “committed” regular players and then in any given year 40 – 60 that are drafted in to play one or two games when needed. They may only be $7.50 per player worse off using those numbers but that structure will without doubt mean players will not play those games in future. This will lead to forfeited games disappointing both this club and the opposition players. Also we often had AFL, League or soccer players filling these holes which on occasion subsequently led to these guys changing codes and becoming “committed” rugby players in future years. This change will stop that from happening.
        The key point is that due to the complexities of rugby most fans have played the game before and to grow the fan base rugby needs to grow the player base. League and AFL don’t have this issue so comparing costs to these sports is missing the point.

      • Brendan Hume

        If the club doesn’t have those one off players, maybe the team forfeits a game. Maybe they lose more games and established players decide not to bother playing anymore. Maybe one of these one off players never gets a chance to play rugby, so their kid doesn’t play rugby. Under the per team insurance model there is no real cost to allow those players to support the team. I can’t see why you would want to make it harder for those one off players.

        • Train Without A Station

          But Brendan, maybe if you’re like the writer’s club and as gloss points out, 1/3 of your players are one off players, maybe you have more grades than you can actually sustain.

          There was real cost, it was just carried by the regulars.

          I agree with your comment that we wouldn’t want to make it harder, but paying for those players could potentially make it harder to keep the players you have.

          As noted, clubs that stay within their limitations (player wise) and therefore only commit to as many grades as they can field, actually may be better off under the new scheme.

        • Brendan Hume

          But the nature of park rugby is such that injuries, work commitments, family commitments, etc can all get in the way of playing. The insurance scheme fees as they stood were sustainable (I’m assuming everyone was paying them). If Hugh requires 144 players for 4 teams, about half of the registered players are playing at any one time (15 per team plus subs). In places with high numbers of shift workers, that’s a regular occurrence. That fits Andrew Larrett’s desire that we want to make the game more flexible. The new model doesn’t. It demands a full years insurance up front. Maybe the ARU should charge insurance on a per game basis?

        • Hugh Cavill

          As said above, that is an option they are investigating. More on that in part 2 tomorrow. They realise that the one-gamers are the issue.

        • Brendan Hume

          The point is it wouldn’t need to be investigated if it wasn’t changed.

  • Braveheart81

    Great stuff Hugh. Think of how much bad blood and negative publicity the ARU would have saved themselves if they’d clearly articulated all of this themselves from the beginning.

    You just can’t dictate substantial changes without explaining what exactly you are doing and why and hope that people just accept it without question.

    • Train Without A Station

      A lot of the bad blood and negative blood has come FROM the NSWRU who were part of the review I assume since Larrett noted all member unions were represented.

      It would seem they’ve been part of the process, then bad mouthed the ARU heavily, without telling the full story.

      • Braveheart81

        The ARU needed to tell the story. The QRU and NSWRU are walking the tightrope between being part of this process but also seeking the support of their sub unions and clubs.

        The ARU shouldn’t have expected them to do their explanations for them and manage the public discourse.

        • Train Without A Station

          The NSWRU didn’t need to drive the opposition.

        • Pfitzy

          Pause in your anti-NSW rant for a moment to consider that down here, the NSWRU isn’t as closely aligned to its Premier clubs as the QRU is to the Brisbane competition. NSW is a hotbed of rugby politics is because the scene is much larger here, and contains a substantial amateur comp run by another union entirely.

          So the statements emerging from each organisation are naturally going to be different.

        • Train Without A Station

          Run by another sub-union.

          Just like every single one in QLD outside Premier Rugby.

          Keep in mind the sub-unions in QLD are absolutely furious and questioning the QRU’s $65 fee on top (And rightly so).

          The NSWRU were part of the process and when everybody started going up in arms they kept quiet and pointed at the ARU and joined the chorus.

        • Pfitzy

          Sorry did they keep quiet or join the chorus? I’m now confused as to what point you’re trying to make.

        • Train Without A Station

          I guess I had this crazy idea that the NSWRU would try to explain and support the concept they were part of the team that were the architect’s of it, rather than leading the opposition to it.

        • Pfitzy

          Perhaps the NSWRU were doing what they could behind closed doors, then had no choice but to come out publicly after it didn’t go the way they wanted in negotiations?

          Or, as you suspected all along, its a plot to destroy Queensland, not only as a rugby entity, but a state.

        • Train Without A Station

          Typical fuckwitted comment where anybody who criticizes something NSW is guilty of state bias. Even if it’s nothing to do with another state. I even commented negatively about the QRU in fact.

          Instead of trying to put out fires the NSWRU only acted to fan the flames. Instead of only working with the sub-unions and the ARU to reach a compromise which had to be done, they hung the ARU to dry and were happy to support the idea that they were fighting against the oppressive, bullying ARU who without consultation with any party, implemented this draconian policy.

        • Pfitzy

          Untie your panties, Tinkerbell.

          You have, in this very thread, come out firing at NSW straight off the bat, accusing them of driving opposition to it. You’ve then obliquely referenced the QRU’s fees as a sideline to somehow guard your flanks, then started in on NSWRU again.

          And I’m the fuckwit? Give yourself an uppercut.

        • Train Without A Station

          Never said you were anything. Said that your comment was. Don’t be so sensitive.

          When this came out people North of the border were asking (to be kind) why the QRU weren’t opposing this. Rightly so, it was because they were part of the group that developed it.

          The NSWRU were happy to be the people’s champion for this one.

          QRU still have plenty to answer for with their fees, considering the NPF basically goes to the states. They’re double dipping. I’m surprised more blood wasn’t spilled at the AGM in fact.

    • Hugh Cavill

      Yep, agree totally. That will be the focus of part 2 tomorrow.

  • Brendan Hume

    The thing that was always wrong with this is that there has been no review that has been made available of the current functions of the Community Rugby spend. What works, what doesn’t and if its not an efficient spend, where savings can be made. If Club Rugby participation has been static, why would you continue to spend money of Community Rugby programs that are delivering no result?

  • Brendan Hume

    Any idea on what this means?

    “…we needed to be able to stabilise the funding of community rugby, and
    be able to incentivise growth of participation. Not unlike other sports,
    rugby at club level has plateaued, and we need to look at more diverse,
    consumer-driven programs and ways to experience sport that are more
    flexible and less time-consuming,” Larratt said.

    How do the changes proposed incentivise growth of participation? What are the diverse, consumer driven programs that will allow Rugby to be experienced in ways that are more flexible and less time-consuming?

    • Yikes

      Part of the review was the introduction of Viva 7s. Which is designed to be team-based, not club based, be low-commitment and available all year round. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

      • Who?

        Unless they can find volunteers in the clubs, it’ll go nowhere… It’ll go nowhere in my region – volunteers are already stretched very, very thin. And the DO doesn’t have time to run it.

  • Train Without A Station

    Good to see somebody actually looking to tell the ARU’s side. Interesting that the NSWRU happy to quote to the mainstream media but declined to comment here.

  • RobC

    Excellent topic. Best in a few years. The article has been about participation fees, as opposed to participation eg framework, vision, strategy, stakeholders, partners.

    Looking forward to the sequel.

  • Regretful convert

    As someone who recently switched to play League from Union BECAUSE of the fee discrepancy (and I’ve played AFL in the past as well), not sure I agree with the factoid about these codes being more expensive, at least in QLD.

    Went from paying around $400 a year to play at a premier Union club in Brisbane to $100 for a comparable league club this year. My money in Union got me my socks,shorts and my jersey at the end of the year (if you were regularly in the side) whereas in league my $100 has netted me some socks,gym shorts,playing shorts,training singlet,training tshirt, jersey and club polo.

    When I’ve played AFL in the past I’ve only ever parted with less than $200 a season.

    Not sure of the situation outside Brisbane, but I count myself as an example of someone who has just been priced out of Union. I love the code, and I will play it again in the future but I’ve been really impressed with the structure I’ve found in the League system, let alone the price.

    • joeyjohns

      And tell me convert, does your Rugby League club have Pokies as a source of revenue to bridge the gap?

      • regretful convert

        Sorry I was vague, by system I meant (at least at my new club) there is a clear and specific “route” to and from 1st grade (NRL). Most coaches right through to juniors have some NRL/Super League experience/Qcup at the very least. Smattering of players also. IMO coming from my personal experience you get a lot more out of your money.

        And yes pokies are funding the club, but as a young’un with a high number of unpaid commitments (read, uni) will I shell out more than double what league wants for the “privilege” to play 15 a side? The AFL club I played for had no pokies and it still managed to charge less than half of what I have regulary paid to play union.

        Went over with a good handful of mates, but know a few more who werent as open to league and are just not playing anything this year.

    • RobC

      Do you have many friends who has switched, planning to switch too, recently?

    • Train Without A Station

      That’s not the league system though. That’s the specific club subsidizing it.

      If Union clubs had more commercial acumen, this argument likely wouldn’t exist.

    • Who?

      In my small town, about 2 hours’ drive from you (guessing!), for a Junior, it’s $200 to play Rugby, $195 for soccer, $150 for league (and you get a heap of free kit), and about $120 for AFL.
      Last year, we were at $140 for Rugby. We weren’t the cheapest, especially not when you factored in League’s kit, but we were competitive, Now, we’re not. We’re more expensive than Mr Larratt’s son’s rego fees. It’s not because we’re not commercial – we’re busting our guts trying to find sponsors!
      There are other clubs in nearby towns that are cheaper, but I know for a fact that all of those clubs will lose significant money this year. In seniors, there are clubs that will need to double or more their fees just to cover the new levies (pending the announcement of the new QRU fee structure to clubs in the next 24 hours).
      It’s frustrating that we don’t see anything much from up the chain. But if we’re not sucking money from up the chain, that’s fine. It only becomes an issue when you feel fees aren’t good value for money. And the reality is that while people living in the northern suburbs of Sydney might be paying a fortune, and only really comparing themselves to soccer, many of us are facing increases that dwarf all our existing cost structures and competition that’s already charging the same ballpark figure we charge. So, rather than jumping into their cost structure, we’re being pushed above it.

  • Nutta

    Interesting article Hugh. And it’s nice to see the site get some acknowledgement as a conduit to supporters. Looking forward to the future installments

  • Nick

    Excellent article Hugh. Great to see GAGR wielding some power and getting noticed by the ARU!

  • hugh

    Is there any impact for non-players?

    How are Coaches, Managers, Water Runners, Trainers, S&C staff, Referees, Touch Judges (ARs), Time Keepers, Scoreboard Attendants, Field Setter Uppers and take downers, Canteen volunteers and BBQers being insured?

    Will the Club or the individual volunteer have to pay an Individual Insurance Levy and Participation Fee?

    Are the Private Schools expected to have their players registered? There are a lot of junior players who benefit from various state body sponsored development who only play School rugby. Most if not all 1st XV school games in Sydney have referees appointed by NSW RRU, and many of the lower grade games at some ISA and CAS games have NSW RRU appointed referees. I believe that they pay for that privilege directly to the NSW RRU.

    • Hugh Cavill

      The volunteers and people you mention are covered in the players fees. They will not have to pay.

      I’m not sure about the schools situation, would assume they have their own insurance that covers everything (classes, excursions etc).

      • hugh

        Schools certainly have their own insurance cover for their day to day operations, including sporting activities.

        The point I was trying to make is with respect to the participation levy which is notionally supposed to pay for development officers, coaching programmes etc, within the State/Territory.

        The players in Private Schools benefit from the State based talent development programmes without contributing to the employment of those resources via a participation levy, unless they also play junior club footy. Some School First XV and 16A players are treated very well by the Rugby Development fraternity, despite them not being registered on RugbyLink, or paying any participation levy.

        • Hugh Cavill

          I’d imagine those involved in such programs would have to pay at some point, though I wouldn’t know for sure. That is still a pretty small number of kids too, would only be a couple in each year group, if that. Not sure it’s too much of an issue.

        • hugh

          It is a matter of principle. The talk out of the ARU is all about business models, individual responsibilities, principles and similar such business newspeak gobbledegook. Not mentioned specifically is user pays but it seems to underpin the thinking.

          From my experience, most junior clubs get very little direct and indirect support from the small number of overworked ARU and State RU DO’s and they pretty much get on with business by themselves on the smell of an oily rag. If the new player participation levy is going to increase that level of support to the junior clubs, then I am all for it. Call me an old cynic, but I’ll believe it when I see it, because it hasn’t happened for the last 15 years that I have been involved with Junior clubland.

          If user pays is an important principle, then Schools should stump up some $. ARU will be reluctant to force the issue with them because they are the net benefactor of the heavy lifting done in overall junior development by the Schools.

          Some would say that the ARU have totally devolved Junior Development to the Private Schools of Sydney (including Stannies, Kinross, and TAS) and Brisbane (including TSS and TGS). The future of Rugby in Australia will be in serious trouble if the Private Schools stopped playing it as one of their games.

        • Hugh Cavill

          So the private school kids should pay money to a body from which they receive nothing in return?

        • Yikes

          The point made Hugh is that the private schools DO receive Development assistance from the Unions, yet are not having to pay for it.

          I think it is an excellent point and with no real answer – the private schools are never going to pony up a fee to the State or National body for the privilege of playing rugby, are they?

          Although I will say that in my experience junior clubs overestimate how much value the private schools get out of the Union, and underestimate the value the junior clubs from the Union!

        • Brendan Hume

          It requires a diversification of the participants and pathways. No other sport is as reliant on private school competitions for its top tier talent. The Junior Gold has started that process, but it needs to go further.

        • Who?

          I know in my region, if a Wallaby or Red comes to town, they go to the local private schools. Not the clubs, not the state schools, the private schools…

        • Who?

          It’s definitely an issue when the school system is considered the ‘elite’ program and the club system – open to kids whose parents aren’t loaded – is left neglected or damaged by schools withdrawing kids from club competitions in which the majority of those kids first started playing Rugby.

      • Axemen

        This is one of the huge holes in the ARU Budget – the private schools pay NOTHING into the system – only take. Yes they develop and spread the game, but not a single fee is paid by any school or player to the any governing body – they get resources like referees and DO’s visit them and the ARSU has the hide to scream about their funding decrease when the rich private schools put nothing back into the system. Maybe to be eligible for any Australian Rep team including GOLD CUP the kids need to be registered and paid up at a local club.

        • Hugh Cavill

          They get two referees a weekend (which they pay for), and apparently DO’s visit them? When and how often?

          The ARU don’t provide anything to private schools, who more or less prop up the game, introducing new kids to rugby every year. They are hardly the problem here.

        • Marlins Tragic

          I agree Axeman, the kids need to register with a local club to be elegible for district rep duty and later in life the JGC.

          However, I thought JGC was supposed to be for the kids that don’t play in GPS schools and hence don’t often get selected in the youth rep teams beyond district level.

          If GPS players were to register with local clubs I’d suggest you wouldn’t see them past the state carnivals!

        • Who?

          JGC WAS meant to be for the kids who don’t get GPS/ICS/CAS/etc Rugby, but the NSW private schools whinged hard enough that they changed the rules. Now, it’s seemingly solely for those kids. Meaning that the kids JGC initially was intended to target – kids who otherwise don’t get that level of training, development and competition – get overlooked by JGC coaches who are (mostly) based in schools (because clubs don’t have level 3 coaches, they’re generally all employed by schools) and want to give the benefit of their program to their First XV. It’s a disgrace and stain on the ARU.

  • George McDonald

    As we are heading into the start of the season I’m hearing from players that they will struggle with paying the fees that are being asked if they have to pay them before they play.
    Given that Rugby in South Australia isn’t big and that we have a large number of transient players coming through the state it makes it hard for clubs, especially (those in the lower socioeconomic areas) where some clubs gave players the opportunity to “pay off” the fees over a couple of months prior to and during the season. It added a certain amount of flexibility to clubs to be able to ensure we could field teams. Taking away the flexibility of the clubs to do that, will be at the cost of people playing.
    If less people play then less family members come down to watch games and less new players start playing, less people watching or being involved means less income for clubs etc… So economically for clubs it doesn’t seem to add up. If this is in the best interest of grassroots/community rugby and it means we lose players (current and future) to the game even for a short term say a few years then maybe someone can tell me how we grow the game at what is truly a grassroots level?

  • issacmaw

    Just to keep players in my small country town. Our fees wiuld have jumped to 300 instead the Club will absorb half. What we would love to see is a DO I think the last one we saw was 3 years ago

  • Ben

    The above mentioned levy’s will make it very difficult to attract new players to rugby in club land. Situation new player goes down to training for the first time interested in playing rugby, never have before but would like to give it a go, club response welcome mate can I have $93 for you to try sorry no refunds if you do not like it and by the way you still need shorts, socks and club fees on top of that.

  • Brad

    As the President of the Katherine Pirates Rugby Union Club Inc, I need to wise in my language due to the pain being felt in a remote community in NT. Inclusive of NTRU, KRU and our club fees; our players are looking at an enormous fee hike with the announcement of ARU fees.

    We are 340Km from the nearest major capital city and we have only 3 teams in our local competition due to the transient nature of our community. We revel in the rare and expensive ‘away tours’ we get to have in the capital to test our standards.

    We have calculated the costs from all the governing bodies we have to appease and our players are looking at a base cost of $200 before the cost to cover any and all gear the players receive, in short our humble fees of $180 will rise to nearly $400, a cost which is difficult to sell to remote community players in NT

    The talk of sustainability in the grassroots game is lost here now, where we struggle with transient players, bush workers, and distance. All the while we are fighting to develop a junior base just to sustain the local game.

    So…the so called experts have done no consultation, no consultation, and even worse no consultation on how the changes could affect real grassroots rugby. We are looking at developing alternative ways to play the game without the costs but be able to fund players who are aspiring to enter the ARU structure.

    We see no other way to remain financial and sustainable. Thanks ARU and those pushing this. Cheers!

  • Keith Bell

    This view is NOT the view of the Management Committee of North Torrens RUFC. If posting comments do NOT do under the North Torrens name! Thankyou. Keith Bell Secretary NTRUFC

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