About 10 years ago I was part of a new seniors club founded in Queensland, it was a relatively new suburban area with high population growth in a region with some traditional rugby clubs.
It started with juniors and then golden oldies before seniors rugby was established. We worked our asses getting that club built, bidding for funding for structures, advertising and marketing for new players and sponsors.
It was all going quite well, we had a dozen junior teams, a colts team and our main seniors team was playing in C Grade, we won C Grade in our 3rd year. That when things started to hit their stumbling blocks, the traditional clubs didn’t like the we had a C Grade Team and not a B or A Grade, they claimed it meant we were stacking the C Grade Team.
We were told we had to put a team in B Grade the following year, we argued against it, we simply didn’t have the numbers but did it anyway. We went as well as could be expected that year, started with 40-45 odd players but fell apart in the last few rounds through injuries and only had 25-28 players to fill out both teams.
After only two seasons in B Grade and constantly struggling to field 2 teams we were told by the governing body that not having an A Grade Team meant we were disrupting the draw, we had to either come up with an A Grade Team or get cut. Again we didn’t have the numbers so we were forced to merge with a University club an hour away. Between the two clubs we would field B and C grade and they would field A Grade with a smattering of our players.
While all this was going on we were still bidding for funding, we had secured funding for new lights to train at night, and had successfully lobbied for an extra training field in the park next door.
In the year where we were merged, I think we won maybe 4 or 5 games across all grades. And that’s where everything all fell apart, we were told to become more competitive and prove player numbers or be cut. We had planned to play the next year, but it had taken its toll on the players, guys didn’t like playing up a grade against better players, or backing up for a 2nd game each week. By Round 1 next year we had to fold the club. All senior grades folded and colts followed soon after.
The club collapsed and despite a few attempts to revive it, it no longer exists. Many of our good players swapped to the other local League team, or played further away at one of the other clubs. The juniors thankfully still exist.
Morale of the story, I know what it’s like to volunteer and work your ass at getting something up and running, and i know what it’s like to face the roadblocks and opposition of traditional clubs attempting to protect their own interest. We had minimal support through this whole process from any level of the governing bodies, they forced our club to extend beyond our means and it and inevitably lead to our collapse. I don’t doubt that if we’re given another few years to progress through the grades, we could have established the necessary depth and talent. We only needed some minor support, not even financial support but strategic support, but we never received it. By the time our team had representation on the board it had all be lost.