Australian Rugby Union held its Annual General Meeting in Sydney today, the first under a newly adopted Constitution.
Members voted in favour of a new Governance model last year following recommendations from the Strengthening the Governance of Australian Rugby (the Arbib Review), which was released in October 2012.
The AGM also saw long-serving President, Ron Graham, address the gathering for the final time, standing down after more than a decade of service to ARU.
Mr Graham said his time as both Chairman and President of Australian Rugby Union over the past decade had been immensely rewarding.
“I have enjoyed a lifelong attachment to this wonderful game and today I attended my final meeting as President with great pride,” Mr Graham said.
“Rugby has given me a lifetime of memories and I am proud to have been able to give something back.
“Over the past decade it has been an honour to have had the opportunity to serve as both ARU Chairman and President.
“I congratulate the new President, David Crombie, and his two new Vice Presidents on their appointments and wish them every success.”
ARU’s Vice President, Mr Crombie was elected unopposed to the position of President.
Former NSWRU President and Wallaby forward, John Coolican, was elected to the position of Senior Vice President, while former Wallaby Captain, recent Hall of Fame inductee and current QLD President, Tony Shaw, was elected to a new position of Junior Vice President.
ARU Chairman, Michael Hawker AM, said Mr Graham had been a wonderful contributor to the game in so many capacities.
“As a player Ron had the honour of representing Australia as a Wallaby,” Mr Hawker said.
“Off the field, he has held numerous positions of considerable ranking, including the Presidency and Chairmanship of both NSW Rugby Union and Australian Rugby Union.”
“We sincerely thank him for his dedication to Rugby and wish him all the best for the future.”
ARU also announced its Financial results for 2012 at the AGM.
A net deficit of $8.3 million was recorded for the year, a $2.3m improvement on the previous year.
Total revenues were $96.6m, up $21.0m from 2011.
However, gross expenditure also increased to $100.3m, up $17.2m from 2011.
Mr Hawker said: “while revenues were higher than the previous year, so was expenditure, which was primarily due to our continued investment in the game.
“Our bottom line was also negatively impacted by $7.5m due to the higher Australian Dollar.
“ARU’s revenue growth was driven by a number of factors, including an increase in sponsorship and an increase in match day returns due to the increased domestic Test program compared to 2011.
“These increases, combined with the expectation that this year’s British & Irish Lions Tour will deliver substantial financial gains to Australian Rugby, provides the organisation an opportunity to better its financial position in 2013.”
Delegates were also briefed on the 2012 participation figures, which for the first time in the game’s history broke the 300,000 player mark.
There were 323,115 players throughout Australia in 2012, an increase of 61,678 (23.6%) on 2011 numbers, 55% on 2010 playing numbers and 68% growth when compared to 2009.
The strength of the game in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT continued to thrive with Junior and Senior numbers recording growth across the five regions.
It was the third consecutive year NSW and Victorian Junior numbers had increased and the fourth year in a row Senior playing numbers had increased in Victoria. Junior numbers also increased in Queensland.
After entering its first official four year Olympic cycle, Rugby Sevens enjoyed a huge boost to playing numbers in 2012.
A total of 39,003 people were engaged with Sevens in 2012, with the game’s popularity growing in Queensland, NSW, South Australia, the ACT, Victoria and Western Australia.
Other key areas of participation included:
• NSW Juniors up 3.3% to 21,135 (Record)
• NSW Seniors up 3.8% to 19,550 (Record)
• NSW overall playing numbers up 12.4% to 114,350 (Record)
• QLD Juniors up 9.2% to 16,593 (Record)
• QLD overall playing numbers up 49.8% to 113,932 (Record)
• Victorian Juniors up 11.7% to 1,969 (Record)
• Victorian Overall playing numbers up 70.8% to 17,994 (Record)
• ACT Seniors up 3.1% to 3,048 (Record)
• ACT Juniors up 5.3% to 4,495
• ACT overall playing numbers up 11.2% to 27,399 (Record)
• Western Australia Seniors up 10.4% to 3,614 (Record)
• Western Australia Juniors up 12.9% to 4,183 (Record)
• National Rugby Sevens playing numbers up 150.4% to 39,003 (Record)
• Irregular Schools playing numbers up 50.3% to 166,913 (Record)
The AGM also saw three ARU Board members reappointed.
Following nominations by the independent Nominations Committee John Eales, John Mumm and Chairman Michael Hawker AM were all elected unopposed for further three year terms – and all as independent directors – under the game’s new Governance model.