EXCLUSIVE: The ARU speaks to G&GR about changes to grassroots funding (part 2) - Green and Gold Rugby

EXCLUSIVE: The ARU speaks to G&GR about changes to grassroots funding (part 2)

EXCLUSIVE: The ARU speaks to G&GR about changes to grassroots funding (part 2)

This is the second part of my interview with the ARU General Manager for Participation, Andrew Larratt.

In part one we looked at the specific changes to the administration of grassroots rugby – the introduction of a participation fee and the move to a ‘per player’ insurance system.

Today we look at the communication and consultation process around these changes, an area that has been another central cause for complaint. Competition Manager of NSW Suburban Rugby, Tim Richards, said in an email to all clubs last week that the changes were ‘foisted on us as a fait accompli very late last year’, and that NSWSRU have faced ‘considerable pressure and funding threats from the ARU’ as they have tried to adapt.

Communication so direct it's practically South African

Communication so direct it’s practically South African

According to Larratt the communication was more or less outsourced to the member unions (such as NSWRU), right from the very start.

“The review committee, which was member union driven, began formal communication in early November. What was clear through the process was the member unions had those relationships with their competitions and through into their clubs. They were absolutely steadfast that this reform needed to happen, and it would be tough but we needed to recalibrate the game, but they all had different approaches and different styles, depending on their local market relationships. We decided to use this approach instead of an ARU-driven, corporate communications plan,” he said.

This may go some way to explaining why the situation is so different across the country – ultimately the ball was placed in the court of the member unions to consult and communicate these changes. Given the central role in the ARU in this process, though, it doesn’t make much sense to me that they remained silent.

“The reforms were driven by a collective of the member unions. They all communicated in different styles, they wanted to have ownership of that relationship. I think that how the ARU in a national position can find that balance between local, member-driven communication and being able to provide a clear long-term vision for the change, it’s finding that balance.

“The approach was not to take an above-the-line media plan to brief journalists, it was a conscious decision to say this was from a governance and a new business model, and to work through the member unions, to let them face-to-face with their competitions, their boards, their people. It was very much that approach, and not played out through media.”

And yet it hasn’t really worked. There is still widespread confusion in many unions about exactly what is happening in 2015, and anger at the perceived lack of consultation. And the ARU haven’t really helped that, with information excruciatingly hard to find online for the casual player. There is a summary page (www.rugby.com.au/gameplan) which is informative, but I couldn’t find it on my own and had to be told by Larratt that it even existed.

I asked Larratt if the process could have been handled better.

“If I reflect on that time frame, I think we could absolutely do far better, for example engaging through surveys to participants in clubs and competitions to gather information, and be able to look at workshops and roadshows. What I think happened with the review committee was a balance of their experience and intel of the fact that this is a significant reform and change.

“This was based on all information from other sports, competitors in the industry, what they have done about what we needed to move very quickly to do to set us up for the next ten years and beyond. It required that leadership approach to it. I think the challenge with that, in reflection, is that it’s only as good as how you can communicate and explain, and then you can bring people along on the journey. That’s where we’ve now started to get that piece around the registration fee and the value provided, and the importance of the member unions in development, but we also now need to show the clarity in the message around insurance.”

Casual rugby at it's best

Casual rugby at it’s best

It’s clear that some of the complaints from clubland have gotten through, though. Larratt tells me the ARU are now investigating a casual player insurance rate, to cover the one or two-off player that appears so often at Subbies clubs like mine. However there are challenges.

“We are trying to explore the best way to look at a small block of games, or just one game, and we are doing our best to try and do that. But we can’t put at risk an overtly large number of people who go for the causal option and then dilute the pool, so it’s a tricky situation. That would largely solve the main issue with the insurance changes.”

Ultimately Larratt is upbeat, pointing to areas of ARU investment that haven’t received the attention they perhaps deserved, though he admitted that was largely their own fault.

“We have recently developed a new program for the community with the Australian Sports Commission, VIVA7s (website is now live, viva7s.com.au). VIVA7s is non-contact, a way we’ve proactively put our effort, energy and some funds into a rugby product, an experience that is inclusive for all ages, abilities and genders, and can be hosted by a club and drive a new revenue stream for them, as well as BBQ revenue and so on,” he said.

And whilst he is forthright about the shortcomings of the ARU’s approach to the changes, he largely sticks to his guns about the particulars of the reform.

“In my view we could have communicated and engaged far better and listened more carefully to those at club level. But I also believe from my experience that the change would still have been difficult and extremely hard in terms of the introduction and understanding of the registration fee, and then the reasons why of the insurance.

“I look at this in a five year block, in a ten year block. Part of what we are doing here will create a much more robust rugby community, it will stabilise the services and incentivise clubs and unions to grow the game. And I think that’s a great thing because in the current marketplace, if we don’t organise ourselves and focus outwards to compete for the choices that kids are making and families, we aren’t going to be growing.”

It’s is a valid argument, and it’s a real shame that it wasn’t convincingly made in November before the changes were announced. There are still undoubted flaws in the program, many of which are still to be ironed out. It has done little to change the impression of the ARU at the grassroots – that being a body who has mismanaged the game to the point of financial ruin, and is now asking regular clubmen and women to pay for their errors.

This is not wholly true, though elements of it certainly may be. But without having their voice in the debate the ARU essentially conceded defeat, and now face an uphill battle to convince the grassroots of the game that they are acting in rugby’s best interest, and not in the best interest of their own bottom line.

This interview has shown that there is some logic behind the changes, and they may be best for the health of the game in the long term. However there is still a long way to go before that point of view gains any respect in the rugby-playing community.

  • richard

    It’s still not clear to me what cost increases the clubs face and where the money goes – or how Rugby measures up in terms of cost for the club player against AFL, League and Soccer, in particular in terms of growing the game at the junior and school level. What is the ARU doing to promote and grow the game?

    • hugh

      Didn’t you read the article?

      The ARU and the Sports Commission have invented this new game, that they haven’t told anyone about yet, but they have a web site and a zippy name for this new game – Viva Sevens.

      This is an exciting new rugby product that provides an experience that is inclusive for all ages and genders that will drive new revenue streams for clubs, as well as requiring more volunteer commitment to run the BBQ and Canteen in support of that revenue stream.

      While it may sound like they have just invented Touch or modified Oz-Tag, it doesn’t matter, just get on with it because the ARU have proactively put their effort, energy and SOME funds into it, so it will be good – potentially an awesome game changer.

      Wonder what the player registration process, participation and insurance levy will be for this paradigm shift.

      Here’s some news just in: Our current miserly pool of extremely competent, poorly funded, overworked Development Officers can’t manage with the rugby products that they have on offer now. What do the ARU hope to achieve by introducing another rugby product to flog off on the masses, when the DO’s don’t have the tools, resources or ability to market the current rugby products?

      • richard

        Yes of course I read it otherwise why would I have commented or are you suggesting I am dumb? Questions remain as far as I am concerned.
        I still don’t know whether it is a money-grab or whether as suggested the insiders failed to explain the changes – your article suggests the latter but what about Griffith rugby? Will they be ok? Will like clubs survive?
        But more importantly, will junior rugby be ok re the financial difficulties of senior clubs other than Syd Uni where their Abbott” sponsored uni scholarships ensure their success?
        Your satirical comments re Viva Sevens is warranted I think we need someone at the ARU to spell out how the new model will help Rugby and how they are going to promote the game.
        The whole thing reminds me of the Abbott government’s attempt to get itself out of the proverbial.

        • hugh

          No suggestion of any ignorance on your behalf. My opening quote above was solely the lead in to the Touch reinvention sarcasm.

          Still some seriously unanswered questions from the centre.

          I’m also wondering about what is going on at our “Member Union”. Someone is telling porkies, or half porkies about the process: either the ARU bloke or the NSW RU. The latter seems to have tried to be the peoples champion, representing their affiliates (SJRU, NSW SRU and Country RU) concerns up to the big bad ARU. If they had done what the ARU bloke said was agreed that the Member Unions were to do, then the SJRU, NSW SRU and Country RU would have been right in the picture all along. Clearly that wasn’t the case, and the discontent does not seems to be limited to just the NSW based “Member Union”.

          ARU Constitutional and Governance reform clearly hasn’t improved things too much. Do we need to sweep a broom through all the empires and vested interests that claim ownership to the keys of our game and bring on an Independent Commission to run the game?

          Sir Humphrey Appelby would be proud.

        • Train Without A Station

          Hugh, I see that you are starting to see some merit in some of my comments on the Part 1 article.

          I could be wrong, but it does sound like the NSWRU have completely shafted the ARU and tried to be the people’s champion, fighting against this new ARU strategy. The same one they were intimately involved in developing.

    • SuckerForRed

      Have a look at the comments on Part 1. I think that it is going to vary from club to club.

  • Steve Bell

    This is a great example of a poorly managed stakeholder strategy – even if the decisions were made for the greater good of the union, fans and players, organisations need to be prepared to front up, engage and be willing for stakeholders to ask hard questions. This interview comes far too late. Hiding behind member unions is incredibly naive and better leadership in this area is needed in order for the ARU to better engage and protect it’s reputation. Would be interested to hear Matt Rowley’s thoughts given his background in corporate affairs.

  • Brendan Hume

    Thanks for the two articles Hugh. It’s great that the ARU took the time to talk with GAGR.
    There is still no budgetary information forthcoming from the states on what grassroots programs are being implemented or what they’re achieving, what the growth targets are and how they’ll look, what existing grassroots programs are going to be discontinued (if existing programs haven’t delivered growth, why would they be continued?) and what grassroots rugby will look like in the future.
    Any reasonable person would understand that without a plan, funding levels are moot, and there has been no comprehensible explanation of what the plan for rugby is at a grassroots level – only how it will be administered with a more direct relationship with the participant.
    I’ve never had a problem with money being paid to benefit the game, but expecting participants to shell out that money blindly is treating those participants as fools, and the reaction that has come from the grassroots shows that we aren’t fools. Accountability needs to be a cornerstone of planning, particularly with the ARU’s financial situation being so publicly aired. To date, there has been none.

    • Hugh Cavill

      That’s true, but it implies that there was a time where we knew where the money was going. Has that ever been the case? Giving money to the ARU and state bodies is nothing new, and I’m not sure if we ever actually knew where it was going. This doesn’t make it right, but it is the way it’s been for most guys at the grassroots.

      • Brendan Hume

        It’s entirely new. I’m not aware of any money in rugby flowing up the chain at any time except for the $200 per team participation levy that was introduced in 2014.

      • hugh

        I concur with Brendan. In the 15 years I have been involved in administering club rugby, I have never seem the club “give money” to the ARU or State body. There have been invoices presented for referee services, attending coaching courses, ground rentals, rep players fees and shorts, sox and jerseys etc as well as a few raffle books issued where we have been expected to market and sell on their behalf. These have all been for specific tangible benefits that have been documented on the invoice, and invariably the cost of those goods and services have been pre-agreed before the invoice issued.

        I won’t call it a cash grab but it seems that this participation levy is a big leap of faith for the clubs. “Give us the money for some stuff, that we will do that will be to your benefit. We are not going to tell what the stuff is yet, or how you will actually benefit from it, just pay up. Trust us, we know what we are doing.”

        Yeah right – what did you do with the RWC03 surplus? Why should we trust you? What have you done to earn that trust, and letting bygones be bygones, and how do you intend to earn and retain our trust for the future?

        • Axemen

          In Victoria there has always been team fees that go to funding the local union and competition and clearly invoiced – I would imagine this is the same in all Unions and the VRU have continued with those as per normal team fees and have communicated that. Senior teams they are about $1700 and Junior teams about $100-200 I think.

        • Who?

          In other states those fees generally go to Sub Unions, rather than the state body. They deal with the state unions, and our local sub union is stating that their annual expenses have gone up this year, rather than being reduced as might have been expected given the state union is receiving direct funding from the players.

        • Axemen

          We aren’t big enough for sub-unions so all is done through the State Union.

        • Who?

          That’s what I was thinking. :-)
          So, for us, our sub union fees last year were $59/junior player, and they’ll continue at that rate this year.

  • Hugh

    Grass roots rugby is volunteer driven. After Grand Finals in and around August/September, the Rugby Grass Roots volunteers effectively hibernate, and they start to get active in Cricket, Surf Lifesaving, Athletics, Tennis and Backyard BBQs.
    Some poor sods prepare for and attend an AGM. and that is about it. A lot of the long lead time stuff for Season 2015, like setting budgets, finalising sponsorship deals, etc is locked in by the end of October.

    Given the extended Christmas – Australia Day wind down in Australia, it is seldom a good idea to start a Formal Communication process around a MAJOR change in the Business Model in November, especially when the implementation is to be crashed in less than 3 months later. Some businesses can achieve this, but it requires a huge effort on many people. In a grass roots volunteer driven sport that is effectively in hibernation, this is a recipe for total confusion and a completely stuffed up implementation, especially when there doesn’t appear to have been any prior consultation about the major procedural change about to detonate in volunteer clubland beyond those who are seem by many as having their snouts deep in the Shiraz Barrel and Crayfish Mornay trough.

    Arrogance, disrespect, incompetence, ignorance are some of the more publishable nouns that spring to mind about this whole process. There is a lot that can be fixed in Rugby Administration in this country, and to keep the game on a steady and sustainable footing, maybe even experiencing moderate growth but the process adopted by the ARU and the “review committee” to achieve seems to be staggeringly inept, leaderless and rudderless, with all the old vested interests still pursuing their own hidden agendas, covering their backsides, avoiding responsibility and accountability and blaming others when their ill considered plans and dreams turn out to be nothing more than a festering heap of fetid excrement.

    I can see what they are trying to achieve, and in many respects changes are needed to the “business model”, but those empowered to administer and run the game in this country have performed as poorly as the Tahs and Reds performed in Round 1 of the 2015 Super Rugby competition.

    • Marlins Tragic

      Agree 100% with you, Im a committee member with a village club in Sydney & was sitting on a beach in Thailand reading email after email about this. How is a quorum supposed to be achieved at that time of year at a committee level with everyone scattered all one he joint?

      Well planned is my thought!

    • Train Without A Station

      I think you are being extremely unrealistic. Whilst everybody is available and engaged is the busiest possible time. The only time to allocate member union resources and start looking at this is at best, later in the season, which drives when the resolution comes out.

  • stuartfaz

    Still very concerned about the impact per-player insurance is going to have on leagues in the smaller unions, like Victoria.

    When I played, we had people who could not pay the individual fees in full straight away, and a *lot* of casual players, especially in lower grades. The club could cover it to an extent as they knew they could ensure players were at least insured against injury in the group policy.

    As someone who has benefited from this policy after a serious injury, I know how important it is, so to switch this to individual insurance and start a season with the risk of these casual players being uncovered, is something I could not stomach were I a club administrator. While the fact they are now considering a casual policy is encouraging, like a lot of this communication, it is coming far too late.

    Hugh, your ‘grassroots impression’ of the ARU is one I shared, and though approaching GAGR to try and clear the air is encouraging, I’m afraid they haven’t succeeded.

    • hugh

      At least they have tried. Like you I give them credit for trying. Better late than never.

      Hopefully this is not a once off, and a two way dialogue from the centre through G&GR will continue.

      One way to keep the communication channels open would be if we can keep the discussion fairly rational and civilised, and offer positive suggestions rather than hit them with an endless stream of abusive sarcastic counter productive rants of the type that sometimes fall of my keyboard.

      • SuckerForRed

        “One way to keep the communication channels open would be if we can keep the discussion fairly rational and civilised, and offer positive suggestions rather than hit them with an endless stream of abusive sarcastic counter productive rants of the type that sometimes fall of my keyboard.”

        I do find this amusing……..

    • Hugh Cavill

      I don’t think there is any risk of players taking the field without insurance. Like always they have to be registered with the form signed before they take the field, and then they are covered. It’s the payment that is the issue. The club will be invoiced $93 for that player, it doesn’t need to be paid up front. They can choose to cover that fee, or get it from the player, but that player will still be covered.

      As for your last paragraph, this doesn’t help their image, but it is a step in the right direction. The first step, maybe. But at least they have some level of self-awareness of how this package is playing in the community.

      • Who?

        Hugh, just to clarify, the rule with insurance was, until this year, you could play ONE game without being registered, you just had to be registered within 7 days of participating in that game. So, you could have someone do an AAC – sit in the stands with a beer and a pie, find out there’s a spot, and jump in to save the day without worrying about paperwork. That’s now closed – the paperwork has to be completed and input into RugbyLink.

  • SuckerForRed

    I think that this whole process has highlighted a few things:

    1) Consultation within the “Rugby Union” community sucks at all levels. As you get further from the grass roots the ‘We know best’ attitude becomes more apparent and so the opinion of the people battling on the grassroots front to keep clubs alive is at best not sort and at worst ignored.

    2) Communication strategies at all levels, most clubs included, are in a dire need of refreshing……. hell just having some strategies would be a good start.
    3) There is a serious gaping hole about the size of the Grand Canyon between what is happening at a grassroots level and the ‘member unions’. Whoever they may be………

    After this explanation I am still not sure if I agree with the changes or not. We will be one of those unfortunate clubs that will be negatively affected because of a high number of casual players and also because of a fair proportion of workers who either work out of town rosters or shift work so may not make each week. We used about 100 players for 3 grades (1 team each) last year. And I don’t think that there was one week where players did not play multiple grades. But, I can now see at least why the changes were made.

    Before people say that we should therefore not have that many grades let me explain. There is no regular teenage comp so anyone under the age of 18 (or 19 I can’t remember which) has to play C grade. If we don’t have a C grade these players will be lost to the code. Under the rules of our comp in previous years we can not just have an A grade team and a C grade team. If we want to have a A grade team we have to have a B grade team. So hopefully you can see our dilemma.

    My concern is that there is going to be nothing done in our area to help increase the player pool as a whole. We do what we can as a club but some messaging (help) from higher up (QRU/ARU) would be appreciated. If there is better generalised promotion and assistance provided to increase the player pool in the area it will all be in the best interests of the code and this I can deal with. If not……. I am already starting to wonder what the hell I am doing here.

    • Marlins Tragic

      Seems the Qld clubs ar e getting creamed for more $$ than other states.

      • Train Without A Station

        That would be the $65 QRU fees

        • SuckerForRed

          The theory goes that we will get a ‘rebate’ of $5 per player back from the QRU for all those that pay. The process of this is not yet fully known. Being the sceptic that I am, I am guessing that we, as a club, will need to apply for said rebate and therefore they are ‘hoping’ that some will be forgotten/missed. Yeah I know, I don’t trust people. It is what happens when you get screwed over a few times.

          As I said above, If this process means we get some assistance for the code as a whole I will live with what extra it might cost our club. The state unions as a whole, and the ARU for that matter, need to realise that the code actually doesn’t centre around their respective Super Rugby franchises. If grassroots shrinks they are going to struggle as well…..

        • Who?

          The $5 rebate back to clubs will almost certainly be canned in the process of reducing the fee. There was never any sense in collecting money to hand it back. Only governments are stupid enough to do that (collect tax, then hand back income supplements).

        • Who?

          Can guarantee it won’t be that high – info will come out in the next 24 hours.

  • RobC

    Thanks Hugh. A good update. Looks like ARU communication and engagement also WIP.

    Since the strategy wasn’t touched on, I thought Id dig around on the general vision and strategy on participation besides the fee structure. Seems there’s no real change in participation strategy. Except more of the same done faster,

    According to this the immediate issue is a $2M shortfall

    Some interesting tidbits from Qld standpoint.

    • Brendan Hume

      This marketing tripe just makes my head explode. Firstly, the figures don’t make sense – if the Participant Levies make up 28% of the budget, the total budget should be $8.2M on their figures. The figures count player payments for programs such as Junior Gold as Qld Rugby Direct Investment. The breakdown of the figures use glib headings like Volunteer Education, Club Development, Competitions and Recruitment and Participation – they all sound fine but in a practical sense, these things do not happen – at least in my area. We pay for our education courses, we haven’t had any club development work done with our club, and the QRU spends nothing on our competition. These figures and the programs they support are vague at best and lies at worst.

      • RobC

        fyi source here: http://rugbynet.vervecontent.com/verve/_resources/Appendix_2_National_Participation_Reform_(QSRU).pdf

        Can be found from this site: http://www.qsru.rugbynet.com.au/

        What would be interesting is the next two levels of detail, in the following areas:
        – OE (opex – ie paying for QRU staff: coordinators / programme managers) vs DE (development ex), and type of DE
        – geographies of expense (region vs city)
        – competition layer: school vs club vs SR etc
        – Sevens vs 15s
        – Definitions of the items above ie: participation, competition etc

        Its a start. Better than getting ZIP.

        Would be good to see the NSW numbers.

      • RobC

        Here’s one that will probably burst your temple vein, of the Heyneke Meyer variety:

        • Who?

          That state government funding includes lots of grants. My club won a grant from a government-affiliated fund a couple of years ago for just over $30k. It went into a dedicated project. That money is considered as money earned for us by the QRU paid by the State Government. Averaged over the three year period now (since it was won), we’ve had, as a club, just over $10k/year. But that was money we won – we won the grant, we did the work.
          The QRU is including government funding as something they do because they now have their DO’s doing a LOT of grant applications for clubs. So it’s right to project future government grant funding as their work. But it’s wrong to conclude what’s already come in is their work. Which is what they’re implying in the document.

      • Train Without A Station

        Brendan, you continually comment with the view, that if the ARU doesn’t cut you a cheque, you haven’t received anything.

        You have to consider factors like that your cost of education may not be the real cost of the education, and that the difference is coming from these things.

        For example, if a DO brings in their salary in revenue through Rookies2Reds courses, education courses, etc. This still does not cover the cost of employing them actually and running the zone actually.

        I’m sure you will be up in arms about Rob’s pic below showing that the average club receives $11k worth of benefit. Just because you don’t see an exchange of funds, it does not mean it’s not true. Running the code state and nationwide costs money.

        Now if we were to start talking distribution of funds and targeting this better I’m sure people like Rob and myself would start to see eye to eye on you more and agree that the use of funds needs to be better targeted in order to see a return.

        • Brendan Hume

          You completely misunderstand my view.

        • Train Without A Station


          “We pay for our education courses, we haven’t had any club development work done with our club, and the QRU spends nothing on our competition”

          I’m not sure how I’ve misunderstood it. Your view seems to be that you and other players/staff, etc. pay for everything you do.

          My point is we need to consider, that may not cover the real cost.

        • Brendan Hume

          And I’ve previously said that I understand there are fixed costs associated with supporting the education resources that are used by clubs. I’m not trying to convince you of anything – you’re not empowered to change anything. All I’m trying to do is share my opinion – one which is grounded in experience.

        • Train Without A Station

          Well Brendan, I think that you contradict yourself a little. Either there are costs, and the levels above are providing for this, as per your comment,

          or the QRU/ARU/etc. spends nothing.

          My point is that we need to be realistic about our expectations and what is possible (consider this in context with other sports).

          And then direct our vitriol at the right issues.

          Currently, the uproar from the grassroots must surely be white noise, because it’s about every little thing, regardless of the relevance. Any time somebody is a little worse off, it’s the ARU’s fault and they supposedly should be doing something about it when it isn’t necessarily always the case.

          In this case, the cost and the structure is always going to be very close to what it is. That’s just what’s necessary.

          Let’s start directing our attention at where the money is going, and what it’s doing, asking for transparency and value in this. Perhaps then we may actually start to see some good results.

          As it is, I can understand that they would develop somewhat of an elitist attitude, because with the uproar of every minor change, it’s just normal and would seem that the punters will always complain.

        • Brendan Hume

          I’ve never said that if we don’t get a cheque we dont get anything. Yes, I contradicted myself to some extent – the QRU receives govt funding to support its training and education so perhaps they aren’t spending anything.
          I’m comfortable that I know what the ARU and QRU do for me, my club and my region. To date, all of the operations of the ARU and states have been paid for by the professional game. It’s their money, they’ve been elected or selected by people that represent me, and apart from thinking they waste a lot of money and are poorly administered, it’s not really my problem.
          Now I’ve been asked to pay for this same system and I won’t do it quietly.
          The message from the grassroots has been very clear – consultation, explanation, planning and vision are required if you want to tax the game. Already there have been concessions in the insurance levies, and there is significant headway being made on the State Levies in Qld.
          My attention is solely on where the money is going – as I mentioned, the marketing material that has been produced is a load of tripe – figures don’t add up and the experience on the ground doesn’t add up.

        • Who?

          Brendan – expect an update on state levies in the next 24 hours. I believe the deal was done in the last 24 hours. Not a perfect outcome, but a much better outcome than we had any right to dream about when this first came out.

        • Brendan Hume

          I heard. I’m not sure it’s been agreed yet. There’s still a lot of thought that without a proper plan, budget and measurables, no fee can be imposed. If the fees are reduced, it does make you question the back-of-the-envelope economics of the architects of the fee.

        • Who?

          My understanding is that it’s been agreed, worked out with the 6 member committee and QRU board, and fixed for 2 years. Country fees will be lower than city fees, too.
          Spot on about how the levy can’t be trusted if they can afford to reduce the levy…

        • Brendan Hume

          I did hear second hand at 9.30 last night after getting flogged at training so my recollection may not be accurate!

  • Guest

    Not clear what the Qld school strategy is, if any, other than 7s

    • SuckerForRed

      One of my concerns is that all the development is being channeled into 7s. I respect that this is the easiest way to get people involved and riding on the coat tails of the Olympics will get some low cost promotional opportunites. But what about the rest of us who are not built for 7s? Also, are the grassroots clubs expected to move into 7s?

      • Who?

        In my region, we held a successful Q7’s school day last year. We’ve got two planned for this year (a girls day, then a boys day).
        However… We’ve been talking club 7’s for years. TO counter the effects of private school rugby, which decimates our main competition to the point we can’t run 15’s in Term 3. Which leaves more than half the kids in the comp without any Rugby during the peak of the Rugby season!
        The solution has been that our sub union is facilitating a 7’s tournament between schools, played outside school hours. Clubs are looking to assist with coaching, with the understanding that linking with a school’s 7’s team will be a good recruitment opportunity for 15’s. Not for props, obviously! But that’s how we’re doing it – the sub union building a 7’s comp.

        • RobC

          This is something ARU and states have mentioned was a key strategy for participation and recruitment. I believe it will help. But Im not sure it is the silver bullet that they make it out to be. In fact, Im pretty sure it wont work wrt to the 15s male sport.

        • Who?

          Completely with you – just pointing out that, while the states and ARU are pointing it out, and our brilliant DO’s busting his gut, it’s still ultimately the local sub union that’s doing the competition management work (at no cost to the schools), the clubs that are assisting with coaching (how’s one DO going to get to the 22 schools that the clubs can cover?), and the schools (both private and state) that are entering the comp.

  • 22metri

    I come from Italy where money for Rugby has always been virtually zero and some of the programmes I’ve seen here in Australia are impressive, at least in my eyes.
    I understand that the concept of the small clubs paying the big ARU sounds strange, but to organise the competitions you need money and professionals, and if you want the good ones, you have to pay them good money.
    Thanks Hugh for the insight in the ARU policy!

    • Train Without A Station

      It only sounds strange to rugby, because it appears the ARU has just absorbed costs for so long. Almost every sport does this.

  • RobC

    Not clear what the Qld school strategy is, if any, other than 7s.

    • Who?

      It’s well worth pointing out that the QCRU have effectively canned the five QRU Competition Coordinators. They weren’t something that was wanted, and the QCRU has said they won’t be utilized.
      The Insurance coverage, well, we’re paying for that, as we always have done.

  • Stu V

    I play for Wanneroo Rugby Club in WA, we trialled the new super touch over Christmas, and as I was playing “old Dogs” touch on the other pitch, I can answer a few questions straight off –
    1)This super touch will not bring more Rugby players into the clubs, it will bring in more touch players – definitely a distinction that needs to be made
    2) for us the subs required for the Super touch and normal touch teams this year caused much grumbling, and the number of teams entered in each code was way down on previous years – 4 years ago we had 4 fields and three kick off times each Thursday for the normal touch comp, this year we ran both competitions and did it all on two pitches. I’m not sure if the subs level was set by club or by Rugby WA, but either way a lot of teams were put off this year.
    3) the actual “post subs” funds generated by the club was woeful this year – the Touch Fraternity just weren’t particularly keen to stay behind for a jar and a pie – not sure if this is local to us, or if its a general thing, but these are definitely not folks that will be swelling the numbers on the sidelines each Saturday afternoon during the regular season. The usual club functions were attended by the usual stalwarts, but I haven’t seen a major influx of new faces caused by any event or campaign.
    Now, the one thing the Roodogs club is doing well is grassroots juniors, we have far and away the biggest kids club in WA, over 400 kids playing across the age groups each weekend, and an equal number of moms and dads ferrying them all around, so we do support the club well from that point of view – again this does not translate to increased membership[p of the club until these kids start to make the transition to adult play in a few years, but it should mean that we will pull ourselves out of the bottom half of the logs by the time I retire..
    Bear in mind 99% of the club is run by volunteers, the juniors especially, I train the U7’s this year simply because my Son is in the U7 age-group- there are 17 other people who turn out each week to manage that age-group alone due to the RugnyWA rules around Coaches and Managers – next year assuming the number of kids doesn’t drop, I’ll need to find 6 designated Linesmen / Women to draft in alongside the coaches, assistants and Managers already required to let our kids have their moment of fun.
    So, where do I see Rugby WA fitting into my club on a day to day basis – well, not much to be honest.
    There is a carnival for the kids at the beginning of the season (great turn out of Force players and support staff, thanks a lot for that support guys), and we tenuously have 2 force players assigned to the Senior club ostensibly for training and mentoring (we lost ours last year for some breach of rules or other),
    and they turn up when invited to our special events.
    I have yet to see any RugbyWA representation at a Juniors event, or training session, nor have I seen literature, guidance or support for the army of volunteers out there.
    Did I see Rugby WA sponsored events through the season, combined events at the local clubs when they had big home games, even selected first grade games playing prior to Force games – no.
    Apart from the kids getting free access to the Force home games, and me getting to shake hands with some of the Force elite, I have very little to report in terms of Value Add from Rugby WA, let alone the AFU.
    Even as a volunteer kids coach, I was stoked to get to attend the SmartRugby training at the Force headquarters last year, only to find out the costs were invoiced back to the club later on – so I see very little investment in any tier of WA rugby other than the Western Force franchise itself.
    I’m not convinced that adding another layer of obscurity to the payment process, and effectively creaming a discretionary % off the top of the Clubs subs is the way to go here, I think the ARU and Rugby WA should have to pitch for their support like everyone else, and lay out their stalls and clearly articulate the value add – before each pay cycle starts.
    I’d happily divorce the “Force Tax” from the “Rugby WA” tax, as I can clearly see the value from one organisation (The badgers locks don’t come free), but I feel that Rugby WA needs to be driven to step up to the Plate for us in the trenches here at Grassroots WA.
    Right now they hide behind the Force, and now the ARU, rather than leading our league and our Super 15 Team from the front, and I feel that all this talk of a revised business model, team to person, is just so much spin, when they can’t even get their support of our clubs to a respectable level.

    • SuckerForRed

      What I tried to say………

  • Train Without A Station

    Great article. Thanks for taking the time to find and share the real story.

    Good to direct the anger at the ARU for what they actually deserve, not just lump everything at them.


Can't write, can't play.

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