The Australian Rugby Union announced it will seek feedback from Rugby fans and stakeholders to drive its next five year strategy and future investment at all levels of the game.
The plan to determine the game’s future strategy from 2016 was outlined at today’s ARU Annual General Meeting, held in Sydney.
It will include the opportunity for members of the public to provide their views on the future direction and priorities for Rugby, with the ARU to embark on an extensive consultation process with Rugby stakeholders and fans in coming months.
ARU Chairman Michael Hawker said the process to collate feedback is already underway, with CEOs of Member Unions and Super Rugby clubs taking part in a strategy workshop today.
“With our new broadcast deal nearly finalised, we’re confident we will have a secure financial future for our game. We see our strategy moving from providing financial security to judicious investment to grow Rugby, and we’re keen for our fans and the Rugby community to contribute to our future strategy.
“This is a terrific opportunity for the Rugby community to work together and establish our priorities to grow the game over the next five years, drive deeper engagement with our fans and create elite teams that win on the world stage.
“We saw an unprecedented level of cooperation across all levels of Rugby in 2014 to make significant progress towards building a strong financial future, while continuing to attract more people to Rugby.
“We want to use this momentum to ensure our future direction and investment reflects the needs of our stakeholders, players and fans.”
As part of the Annual General Meeting, the ARU also announced an underlying business surplus of $0.7m and an overall deficit of $6.3m, in a year that focused on driving a sustainable future for the game, through direct grants to Member Unions and the delivery of national programs.
Other key points from the 2014 Annual Report include:
Rugby participation grew by 12% in 2014 compared to 2013 – with more than 120,000 kids taking part in National Rugby Week; the continued popularity of Sevens including a 66% increase in the number of girls and women playing Sevens (13,488); while senior club Rugby participation rates remained steady with growth of less than 1% compared to 2013.
Investment of $3.7m in direct grants to Member Unions to develop grassroots Rugby, in addition to $4.3m provided in funding for the delivery of ARU programs nationally.
Further improvement to the pathway to help players move from grassroots or club Rugby to elite Rugby, including the launch of the Junior Gold Cup; an improved Under 20's program; and the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship, which included law variations.
Investment of $23.6m to Super Rugby clubs. The 2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby season was the most successful ever for Australian teams, including the first-ever Super Rugby title for the NSW Waratahs and 40 wins for Australian teams throughout the season, up from 37 in 2013 and 32 in 2012.
A Gold Medal for Australia in Sevens at the Youth Olympics; a Bronze Medal for the national Men’s team at the Commonwealth Games; and the national Women’s team retained its number two world ranking at the end of 2014.
A three-nil series victory for the Qantas Wallabies against France and a new coach appointed to lead the team to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Introduced flexible player contracts and player welfare initiatives including the appointment of a Concussion Specialist to advise on our approach to concussion at all levels of the game.
Growth for television ratings for domestic Test matches and undertook significant negotiations regarding Rugby’s new media rights deal, to come into effect from 2016-2020.
ARU Board Director Geoffrey Stooke OAM was re-appointed for his second three year term as a Director.
The meeting also marked the retirement of David Crombie AM as Australian Rugby Union President, following his two year term.
Classic Wallaby John Coolican, who represented Australia 17 times including four Tests and played 28 games for New South Wales, was formally appointed to the role of President. He will be supported by Vice-Presidents, Tony Shaw and Tim Gavin.
The Australian Rugby Union’s 2014 Annual Report is available at www.rugby.com.au/annualreport/2014.