A story broke yesterday about Balmain Rugby Club’s involvement in a $1 million rugby revolution currently being developed. With that in mind here is some clarification on our plans and its ‘wrinkles’.

Since March this year we have been working on the creation of a 3rd tier competition to supplement the development of rugby in Australia. Over that time we have worked on different models while trying to maintain a strict fiscal discipline to ensure that this is an achievable goal and not a pipe dream. We are now a lot closer to that goal but there is still a long way to go.

Our plan is not anti-establishment, instead we are developing a viable solution and we will be working with the various bodies to ensure its success.

Our proposal includes the realignment of club competitions to match the Super rugby finishing date which would free up players to compete in this competition while The Rugby Championship was played.

We believe there is a window in late August, September and early October each season for an attractive rugby product using players that do not make the Wallabies 30 player squad, alongside young developing players. It would act in part as a selection tool for Australia’s rugby franchises and assist them with assessing talent in a higher standard than premier rugby. We know from our discussions with these franchises that it is a concept they would support.

This competition will be similar to the 3rd tier competitions currently existing for the last two World Cup winning nations New Zealand and South Africa; the ITM and Currie Cups.

Our short term plan is based on building a sustainable competition by managing overheads. The vast majority of rugby followers agree that a completion like the proposed is a tremendous opportunity but the barriers to entry are primarily fiscal.

Conscious of this we have decided, at least in the first season, to concentrate on two conferences; one in Sydney and the other in Brisbane. It is then hoped once the tournament proves itself that we will expand into other rugby strongholds in Perth, Melbourne, Canberra and potentially NSW Central Coast, NSW & QLD country.

In the first season each Sydney and Brisbane conference will have 6 privately funded teams based on districts that will appeal to a broad supporter base.

By keeping participating teams to 12 in the first year we believe the returning players from each Australian Super rugby franchise (30 contracted players + 5 extended playing squad members) will strengthen these teams beyond what is possible in premier rugby.

The introduction of 5 Super rugby franchises has undeniably diluted the standard in premier rugby competitions and the well documented financial challenges of these premier clubs have been exacerbated by the player drain to Super rugby. All clubs have an important part in Australian rugby but the cavernous hole between club rugby and super rugby is only getting bigger.

The Australian Rugby Championship in 2007 provided this bridge between club and Super rugby and produced some tremendous rugby while uncovering current Wallabies such as Kurtley Beale and Lachie Turner. But the high cost of travel dictated for the new proposed tournament that we would need to look at a different model, at least in the first instance that is played in cities where travel is reduced to short commutes.

New Clubs will be created and all 12 teams will be privately owned. Importantly we would not have promoted this concept without the substantial interest in ownership from individuals we have targeted and we are confident that creating these Clubs with inspired owners will not be a speed hump.

The basic premise of this competition is the promotion of developing footballers – providing pathways that will once again make Australia a great rugby nation yet at the same time appeal to the rugby faithful who have come out and overwhelmingly endorsed the idea.

To develop young footballers all 30 man squads must be made up of at least 10 players under 22 years of age. Marquee signings will be encouraged and will be outside the modest salary cap. Non-marquee players will receive modest match payments with the opportunity to win the $1 million prize money. They will be part-time players and will need to supplement their incomes with other employment or rugby contracts.

This competition won’t make players rich but it will provide players increased exposure to potential future employers while continuing their development via contact in game situations with a higher standard of players, teams and coaching.

The season will be short and intense. 5 games will be played in each conference with the top 2 teams from each conference playing off in the conference Semi-Finals – Sydney 1 v Brisbane 2, Brisbane 1 v Sydney 2. Winners will go through to the Grand Final.

Matches will be played at times attractive for television such as Friday night double headers at 6:30pm & 8:30pm. These matches will be played at suburban grounds; eg Leichhardt Oval, Redfern Oval with low entry fees offering fans value for money. Sunday afternoon games will be played at 4:00pm with mid-week night games as the tournament develops.

Earlier this year we spoke in confidence, to key decision makers at Fox Sports and Channel 10 about the concept of a 3rd tier rugby tournament and the resulting proposal we are developing is based on their feedback.

It is without doubt a work in progress and we look forward to the continued refinement to make this an attractive product for television and Australian rugby fans. Watch this space! We Are Balmain.

For discussion on this go to
Balmain Rugby’s Facebook page or to Green and Gold Rugby forums

By |2012-09-07T03:17:42+00:00September 7th, 2012|Club news|Comments Off on $1 million rugby revolution

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