Dear Members and Fans,
There has been much discussion recently about the benefits of “centralisation” of rugby union in Australia, with the performances of the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup highlighting the need for change.
I wanted to update all our members and supporters on the Queensland Rugby Union’s position on centralisation.
Many of you are rightfully concerned about the impact of what this would mean, both for Queensland high-performance pathways and programs, and for the community clubs and schools you support.
“Centralisation” would include a national player-contracting model, and alignment of key high-performance staff, such as coaching, strength and conditioning, and medical to operate as one national system.
The QRU is committed to working with Rugby Australia to lead reform of our game at a high-performance level, and help Rugby Australia develop an improved game through high-performance centralisation.
We want to play our part to improve rugby in this country.
We have seen the benefits of centralising high-performance outcomes with teams like Ireland.
Queensland has always been aligned to existing national high-performance obligations, as shown by the recent recruitment of Queensland Reds head coach Les Kiss, undertaken in partnership with Rugby Australia.
The QRU is strongly supportive of Rugby Australia’s call for a fully independent and transparent top-to-bottom review of the Wallabies program and how it can be improved.
This review will be critical to demonstrating the best way for State unions to align with the national union.
The review should provide a balanced and equitable strategy that acknowledges both challenges and opportunities, and provides an aligned plan for the future prosperity of the game.
It should also provide a clear view of what is needed in a leadership and governance framework to ensure we put the right people, in the right roles, in the right system.
We are also encouraged by Rugby Australia’s willingness to discuss the reinstatement of the annual $1.7 million in funding that was withdrawn due to COVID austerity measures, as well as a more robust funding model for Super Rugby clubs.
This funding is crucial to many State unions being able to support the national program.
There has been discussion with other States which propose to centralise other parts of their operations, such as the commercial and people functions at Super Rugby clubs.
While the QRU is very supportive of high-performance alignment, it will not agree to any proposal on centralising commercial or corporate functions.
The very strength of our State unions is the expertise they bring in their own markets.
We are open to work on commercial initiatives together but will always retain our independence for the benefit of Queensland Rugby, its members and stakeholders.
Queensland Rugby has built a sustainable business model through the elimination of legacy operating debt, delivered four-straight operating profits and worked in partnership with Governments to successfully deliver $31 million of improvements to Ballymore through the construction of the National Rugby Training Centre, the home of the Wallaroos and Queensland Reds.
The strength of our game continues to thrive in Queensland with more than 71,000 players across the state – more than 16,000 of those female participants.
We have also overseen continued growth of rugby in Queensland schools with 257 schools – many of them State schools - playing rugby this year, with 164 of these having female teams.
Our parochial club rugby base, including the Hospital Cup competition driving new broadcast success, and our regional Queensland Country sub-unions, are critical to providing the players for a new, aligned national high-performance model.
We need to engage with all of these stakeholders to ensure they’re a part of this journey as well.
We want to do what’s right for Queensland, and what’s right for the game.
David Hanham - QRU CEO
Brett Clark - QRU Chairman