NSW Rugby Union looking for 'quick wins' to help spearhead centralisation procress

Tue, Nov 14, 2023, 12:12 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
NSWRU and Waratahs CEO Paul Doorn with RA CEO Phil Waugh after the centralisation announcement. Photo: Getty Images
NSWRU and Waratahs CEO Paul Doorn with RA CEO Phil Waugh after the centralisation announcement. Photo: Getty Images

NSW Rugby Union and Waratahs CEO Paul Doorn is hoping they can showcase the merits of centralisation after becoming the first club to sign with Rugby Australia as part of the 'strategic reset.'

The move sees the two entities integrate their functions, with RA focused on high performance and commercial, allowing NSWRU to turn further attention towards grassroots and the community game.

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The announcement was confirmed on Tuesday after Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh outlayed the plans for centralisation in August.

Since then, certain aspects have been met with resistance by clubs, particularly around giving up commercial operations responsibilities.

However, Doorn and NSWRU believe it's a necessary move given the current position of the game.

“It’s not going to happen overnight but it will happen…We 100% agree the strategy has to change,” Doorn said to reporters.

“Holistically, we bought into the fact we believe that centralisation or the integration, particularly of the high-performance model, will actually drive better outcomes both on and off the field.

“We’ve had a really strong working relationship with Rugby Australia to get us to this point today…we’re really comfortable with the fact that we’re going to get better outcomes.

“We want to be able to work really closely (with RA) to get some quick wins to demonstrate that it can actually work and it does have an impact.”

From a high-performance aspect, the Waratahs have already had informal experience with this through the constant transfer of players to other Australian clubs.

Regular starters Will Harris and Ben Donaldson will head to Western Force in 2024 whilst scrumhalf Harrison Goddard heads down south to the ACT Brumbies.

Rebels vice-captain Brad Wilkin made his debut in the sky blue along with Andrew Kellaway, Jeremy Williams to go with a host of stars that came through the NSW pathways system.

“When I first started, I used to get upset when they’d say 'former Waratahs top player (has) now gone here', 'former NSW pathway, junior went there' when we can only have 38 players in our top squad. So actually part of NSW being the largest and oldest provincial union is to develop talent for the whole game in Australia,” Doorn explained.

“We accept that and we clearly recognise that one of the things we always want to get better at is choosing the kids that will be tomorrow’s superstars but we also fulfil a role helping support the game across Australia and populating other Super Rugby clubs.

“We don’t want to see anyone go but effectively, that’s the role of a union such as NSW.”

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