NSW Rugby Union has become the first Member Union in Australia to formally commit to Rugby Australia’s plan for centralisation as part of the game's strategic reset.
This will see RA take responsibility for the Waratahs’ high-performance operations, assets, liabilities, and commercial arrangements.
It will mean the Waratahs’ professional Rugby operations across high-performance (players, coaches, support staff) and commercial (sponsorship, marketing, membership, ticketing) will be fully integrated and aligned with RA’s high-performance and commercial operations.
Waratahs employees will continue in their current roles, with the NSWRU turning their focus to the community game: delivering programs to grow participation in and engagement with Rugby around the state.
"We are taking this bold step because we strongly believe the federated model for professional Rugby in Australia is unsustainable and that meaningful reform is long overdue,” said NSW Rugby Union CEO Paul Doorn.
“We are committed to the removal of the inherent conflicts and self-interest that have constrained meaningful progress in the past, and we are committed to the alignment of the high-performance and commercial operations between our club and Rugby Australia.
“I appreciate questions will be asked about the level of trust and confidence in RA’s ability to fully realise the benefits of integration. These are important questions – however our decision reflects a commitment to deal with any such concern ‘inside the tent’, playing an active role in the most collaborative way possible.
“We are not content to sit on the sidelines any longer on this much needed reform, and I hope all Super Rugby clubs will follow our lead as we push forward on an aligned Australian Rugby ecosystem.”
It comes after RA's announcement of a 'reset' of the game in August, set to come into effect from January 1 2024.
“We have a plan that we are working on to unite the game – it will take the whole game to rebuild a system that delivers success on and off the field," RA CEO Phil Waugh said. “We have agreement from the five Australian Super Rugby clubs that we need to be pursuing an aligned high-performance system and pathways."
“There may be different models across different clubs, however the Waratahs have been very clear that they see great benefits in aligning their commercial operations with RA’s, as we look to achieve maximum commercial return and efficiency for the game. I firmly believe that this strategic reset is in the best interests of the game – and crucially, it delivers even greater priority to strengthening the community game; ringfencing investment in the community game and allowing state unions to focus entirely on grassroots and participation without the distraction of professional Rugby."
“It will allow the game to develop fully aligned pathways and high-performance structures to deliver lasting success for Australian Super Rugby clubs and our national teams."