Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union have taken a significant step towards the strategic reset of Australian rugby. NSW has become the first state member union to officially support Rugby Australia's plan to align the sport nationwide. This agreement to centralize operations means that Rugby Australia will assume responsibility for the professional entities of the Waratahs from 1 January. This includes taking charge of the Waratahs' high-performance operations, assets, liabilities, and commercial arrangements. While all employees will retain their current roles, the NSW Rugby Union will remain responsible for the community game and the development of programs to grow participation in the sport across the state. Both bodies will work together alongside the Waratahs to achieve these goals.
By integrating the Waratahs' professional operations, which encompass players, coaches, support staff, and commercial activities such as sponsorship, marketing, membership, and ticketing, with Rugby Australia, a fully aligned and integrated system will be established. A separate board, comprising representatives nominated by NSW Rugby and Rugby Australia, will govern the Waratahs. This move is a bold step towards addressing the long-standing issues that have hindered progress within Australian rugby.
NSW Rugby chief Paul Doorn expressed his belief that the federated model for professional rugby in the country is unsustainable, emphasizing the need for meaningful reform. He acknowledged the necessary level of trust and confidence in Rugby Australia's ability to realize the benefits of integration but remains optimistic that any concerns can be addressed through collaboration.
Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh also stressed the importance of an aligned system for the future of the sport in Australia. He reiterated that a united approach is necessary to rebuild a system that can deliver success both on and off the field. The five Australian Super Rugby clubs have all agreed on the need to pursue an aligned high-performance system and pathways. While each club may have different models, the Waratahs have highlighted the advantages of aligning their commercial operations with Rugby Australia's, aiming to maximize commercial returns and operational efficiency.
This integration will enable the development of fully aligned pathways and high-performance structures, leading to sustained success for Australian Super Rugby clubs and the national teams. Establishing a business model that delivers greater commercial success for all stakeholders in the game is a key objective. Rugby Australia believes that a strongly aligned game can achieve this.
In conclusion, Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union have taken a significant step towards their strategic reset plan for Australian rugby by agreeing to centralize operations. This move aims to address long-standing issues by creating an aligned and integrated system that will benefit all stakeholders. With the Waratahs leading the way, this collaboration sets the stage for a stronger and more successful future for Australian rugby.