Welcome to the first Lineout for 2015, a year that promises to be huge for the game and our players.
I would like to kick off by wishing all the Super Rugby players the best of luck in the 2015 Super Rugby competition. It is set to be another blockbuster tournament following last year, which saw the NSW Waratahs collect their first Championship title and the Australian Super Rugby franchises together securing more wins than any season previously.
The competitiveness of ours teams will continue given the talent that attended RUPA’s Induction Camp in December last year. And with limited spots available in this year’s Rugby World Cup in England, there is no doubt all players will be keen to have their best form on show.
This year will see the last of the Super Rugby competition in its current format, with Argentina and Japan added to the mix from 2016. The extension has called for an overhaul of the current setup which will make for an all new ball game with amplified global appeal come next year.
In the past month RUPA has been travelling across the country to all five of the Australian Super Rugby franchises with our first roadshow of 2015. I cannot state enough the importance of sitting down and meeting with players face to face regularly to discuss both the on and off-field components of the game. Of significant concern for RUPA is that players are armed with the support and information they require to carry out their professional careers safely and successfully now and into the future. Two more roadshows are scheduled to take place later this year.
It is also a big year for the Rugby Union Player’s Association itself with 2015 being our 20th anniversary year. RUPA was officially established by players on 16 August 1995 with the signing of the ‘Ferrier Agreement’ signalling the start of the professional era of the game. Since then RUPA has been fulfilling its responsibilities to Australia’s rugby players by protecting, promoting and preparing them for the challenges of the professional game.
As such, this year, you can look forward to a whole host of information from RUPA about and for players, including spotlight stories on current players, a look at what some of our previous players are doing, and an introduction to some of Australian rugby’s upcoming talent.
2015 will also see the second year of the Buildcorp NRC. In it’s inaugural year, the competition not only identified future talent on the field, but also provided a fast-paced spectacle of the game.
It will also be a huge year for our Aussie Sevens Men’s and Women’s side, who respectively recommenced their 2014/15 Sevens World Series recently in Wellington and Brazil. With the series winding up in May this year, it is a vital step on the road to Rio as the qualifications for the Olympics in 2016. We wish them all the best of luck.
Finally, vale Charles ‘Gordon’ Stone, Australia’s oldest Wallaby, Wallaby number 316 who represented the NSW Waratahs and Sydney’s Randwick Rugby Club. Gordon passed away peacefully at the age of 100 last Saturday. His funeral will be held tomorrow, Friday 13 February at his former place of employment and residence at the Chapel of the old Prince Henry Hospital at 11:00am.