National Club Competition-ANNOUNCED!
Our rich club heritage under threat
By David Sygall
Sunday, May 28, 2006
More than a century of heritage and tradition may be tossed away if a national rugby competition is introduced, former Wallabies have warned.
Nick Farr-Jones and Warwick Waugh spoke out before a three-day meeting that starts tomorrow between representatives from the Australian Rugby Union, state unions, clubs and consultants, who will consider introducing a new tier to bridge the gap between club rugby and the Super 14.
Farr-Jones and Waugh fear this competition would spell the end of Sydney club rugby in its current form and might lead to the axing of their former clubs, Sydney University and Randwick.
The two clubs took out an expensive advertisement on the back page of The Sydney Morning Herald to make their fears public.
The advertisement outlined the clubs' recent records in producing state and international players, their financial security and development plans. Both clubs have a rich rugby heritage and are financially sound, but Waugh believes that may not be enough for them to survive.
"The concerns for Randwick and Uni are that the criterium could be set in a way that our clubs could well be penalised to the point of ending up not part of next year's competition," he said.
"The point of the ad is to get on the front foot to make sure people know what's going on before next week because it's a bit cloak and dagger.
"We don't know the agenda of the ARU. They're looking at a national competition and that can't sustain all the clubs in Sydney.
"If they start talking about financial criterium and grounds, depending on how it's set up, we could be penalised. Our history and heritage possibly wouldn't be enough to get us over the line. We'll know a lot more next Wednesday after the meeting."
Randwick is one of the world's most well-known clubs, while Sydney Uni, founded in 1863, is Australia's oldest.
"I've played in Italy, France, Ireland, England and everywhere I went Randwick were more popular than the Waratahs," Waugh said. "Everyone knows who we are. Randwick is one of the world's great clubs. Campese played here.
"To take that away because we don't fit criteria would be a tragedy, even in the evolution of the game."
The clubs don't know if they would be able to appeal if they were axed but legal action could be expected if there was a decision to cut clubs out.
"They've very cleverly kept it under guard," Waugh said. "Something that threatens the future of our clubs, whether we've got a right of appeal or not, they'll certainly hear from us.
The greats of Randwick probably don't even realise what's going on.
"When the ARU consider this, they should consider they're in a good position because of the Sydney clubs. If they start axing clubs with such history and breeding for Wallabies, Australian rugby's going to be in a lot more trouble than they realise."
Farr-Jones, who played his club rugby at Sydney Uni, was confident his former club would withstand any changes, but voiced his concern over the possible axing of other clubs.
"Ten years ago, Sydney Uni probably wouldn't have met all the criteria," Farr-Jones said. "But they probably won't miss out now because there were people there 10 years ago with the wisdom to build a strong infrastructure. The fact is, however, it will be a very discriminatory process. Some clubs will miss out, which is a great disappointment, given the clubs' history and the competition."
Sydney Uni general manager Ray Dearlove said: "We understand the need for a third tier, but we're not sure there's anything wrong with the club system in NSW now. Between us and Randwick, we've produced 25 per cent of the current Wallabies."
This story was found at: http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/ar...754861763.html
Sydney clubs seek stand-alone status
By Ben Kimber
Saturday, May 27, 2006
RANDWICK and Sydney University are rallying the troops to support their bid for stand-alone status in a third-tier national competition from next season.
Placing advertisements in yesterday's and today's Herald as their first campaign move, the clubs outlined why they should be considered as stand-alone entities for any national third-tier competition, a stance they will take into next week's conference.
With the ARU organising a three-day talkfest with all of the Australian provinces' clubs and other stakeholders from Monday, a number of Sydney clubs have been seeking joint-venture partners to bid for a position in a national competition.
The Students and the Wicks, however, have listed their recent achievements, financial solidity and regular production of Wallabies as key reasons for their inclusion as they are.
"We want a chance of participating in a national comp, we don't want to lose our identity or tribalism," Randwick president Ian North said yesterday. "We've had plenty of support for the ad, people saying it's good to see some action and 'Keep the bastards honest' sort of comments. We've been doing this for a long time and we're very financially stable and we want to keep it that way.
"If other clubs aren't ready for the future and have to merge, then so be it."
The two clubs pushing for stand-alone status would not approve then of the plan assistant Waratahs coach Brian Melrose is supporting which he has outlined in today's Rugby News program for the Shute Shield final.
Melrose stressed he was not speaking as a representative of the NSWRU, but he believes a ten-team model would work for Australia with about five teams of either merged or annually qualified clubs coming from Sydney, three from Brisbane and one each from Perth and Canberra.
Melrose suggests the first-grade season should revert to one and a half rounds, or roughly 18 weeks with finals, in order to be completed by late July and leave a window for the national competition. Either the players would then advance to the merged entity or clubs would advance while including a set number of players from those sides that failed to qualify, in order to ensure the best players participate, not just the best clubs.
"I think there has to be a relevant competition for the clubs and an aspirational pathway for the players," Melrose said. "It's not so much about the number of clubs, but a model along these lines would work. I'm also not suggesting it's the the only way, but it would give validity to the club and the competitions as well as that pathway. A genuine club and genuine national competition need to live in harmony. In this model, the clubs are involved and all they concede it is some time out of their season."
The topic of third-tier rugby will undoubtedly be high on the agenda in the crowd at TG Millner Field today as the Students take on Eastwood in the Shute Shield final, with both sides taking the field with settled line-ups after coming through Thursday night's training unscathed.
This story was found at: http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/ar...524886052.html
Could this be Unions version of the Superleague war? If the ARU looks over the established clubs, they could have a serious legal battle on their hands. Clubs like Randwick, Sydney Uni and Eastwood are not short of cash. In fact they've probably got more than the GDP of most third world countries. And they usually have two or three Q.C's on their board of director, so I think there will be severe infighting.
If the ARU decide to pass them over, and they decide to say 'stuff it, we'll keep playing' and the players back their old clubs, this could devestate the grassroots of Australian rugby.