Australian Rugby Union today joined Federal Treasurer the Hon Joe Hockey MP and Senator the Hon Kate Lundy in launching the Parliamentary Friends of Rugby Union Group in Canberra.
The bi-partisan group will provide a forum for Members of Parliament and Senators to support and actively engage with Rugby in Australia.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said this new group will be a terrific platform to promote the spirit and values of Rugby.
“Our vision is to ignite passion, build character and create an inclusive Australian Rugby community.”
“Rugby is one of the most popular sports in Australia, with more than 600,000 boys, girls, men and women participating nationally – from grassroots programs right through to the elite level.
“This year we hope to continue enjoying record participation numbers and achieve success at the highest levels of the game for our provincial and national teams.
“The Parliamentary Friends of Rugby Union Group will provide important opportunities for Members and Senators to have greater involvement with Rugby in their electorates and at a national level.
“I’m looking forward to working with the Federal Government as well as individual Members and Senators on this great new initiative.”
Treasurer Joe Hockey said he was pleased to help launch the Parliamentary Friends of Rugby Union Group.
“Sport inspires individuals, unites communities and is an important factor in encouraging active and healthy lifestyles, and Rugby in particular is a great team sport that can be played in a range of formats by men, women, boys and girls of all ages.
“This is an exciting time for professional Rugby as well, with the World Cup in England next year and the inclusion of men’s and women’s Rugby Sevens as an Olympic Sport from 2016,” he said.
Senator Lundy said she was glad to be involved in the initiative, especially given the huge role that sport plays in the spirit of Australian communities.
“It’s fantastic to see Rugby going from strength to strength in Australia, including in Rugby Sevens. This is reflected on the international stage, where our Women’s Sevens team in particular is producing consistently strong performances.”
“Rugby has a great many supporters in the Halls of Parliament. I’m confident this bi-partisan group will provide Members and Senators with the opportunity to engage with Rugby at a national level as well as in their local communities.”
Bill Pulver and co-chairs Treasurer Hockey and Senator Lundy were joined by Members and Senators from all sides of politics, Qantas Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie, members of the Qantas Wallabies and Brumbies squads, Wallaby Legends John Eales, George Gregan and Joe Roff and Australian Women’s Sevens players, captain Sharni Williams and Alicia Quirk.
The Parliamentary Friends of Rugby Union launch also included the first public performance of “Ode to the Wallabies: The Golden Thread”, a stirring tribute written by Australian author and poet Rupert McCall to Wallabies past and present, and the jersey which symbolises so much to Australian Rugby fans.
To celebrate the launch, the ARU will also host a game of Touch Rugby on the Senate Oval from 7am tomorrow morning.
Members and Senators have been invited to take on the Australian Rugby All-Stars featuring George Gregan, Joe Roff, Stephen Larkham, Sharni Williams and Alicia Quirk.