With Super Rugby kicking off in less than a fortnight's time, and the Sydney Sevens launching the start of the 2019 Australian Rugby season last weekend, we've been speaking to all of our RUPA Board Members about the upcoming season.
Today, we hear from former RUPA President, and current Director, Adam Wallace-Harrison. Wallace-Harrison has remained on the RUPA Board as a Director since retiring from professional Rugby in 2013 and moving into a career in finance.
Adam, what are you most excited about, from an Australian Rugby perspective, in 2019?
"I'm really looking forward to the Rugby World Cup at the end of the year, and seeing how the Wallabies perform as well as seeing the Northern Hemisphere teams who have been finding a fair bit of form as well.
"In Super Rugby, I am really excited to see improved depth across all of our teams and hopefully we'll be pretty competitive. We've got second-year coaches at the Reds, Rebels and Brumbies, so I think we'll see some of their structures embedded and their stamp on those teams really coming to the fore. A strong Super Rugby season for the Australian teams would hopefully translate well into the World Cup.
Which Australian player(s) are you most looking forward to watching in action this year, and why?
"There's a lot of young guys coming through in Queensland I'm looking forward to watching, but also watching James Slipper, Karmichael Hunt and Quade Cooper at their new teams with a bit of a point to prove.
"Speaking from my own experience, I made the same move as James when I went from the Reds to the Brumbies, and I really loved the environment in Canberra so I think that Slips, already being an outstanding player, will be coming back so hungry and in a great place to have a real impact.
"All three of those guys have a point to prove and are bouncing back from a bit of adversity but have great pedigree and will be great to watch."
What does serving on the RUPA Board mean to you?
"Being on the Board for seven years, for me the player welfare responsibility is my main motivator. Obviously the game is going through lots of challenges at the moment, but from a player welfare side of things has always been something I am interested in and I deal with a lot of current and former players in my new career.
"I see plenty of guys who've got that transition right, and I also see plenty who've got it wrong, so I think that transition space motivates me and having the opportunity to be at the coalface and help set up the systems and structures to help players survive and thrive.
What do you think is the single most pressing issue facing Australian Rugby heading into 2019?
"To say just one is a challenge in itself, but obviously it is well-documented that there are a lot of things in Australian Rugby, and in Super Rugby as well, that need to be fixed.
"If I had to pick one, the impact on Southern Hemisphere Rugby that comes from the recent private takeover of the English Premiership is going to be really interesting. There's a big treasure chest of money for that competition over there, and those Clubs are going to come hunting relentlessly for our top players, and if the game's not thriving here that combination with a lot of extra money could be pretty enticing.
"If you take those players out of our competition, then Australian Rugby could be in a fair bit of strife, so we need to work out how we'll respond to that."
What is your all-time favourite Australian Rugby memory?
"My favourite memory personally is the 2011 Super Rugby championship I won with the Reds. Coming into the year and knowing I wasn't guaranteed a place in the team, but earning a spot and then winning the title, that ranks at the very top.
"From a spectator perspective, I remember watching the Wallabies' dominant 1999 Rugby World Cup campaign as a kid in Western Australia and looking at the team as a ground-breaking outfit who played a very entertaining brand of footy."
Click here to see the 2019 Super Rugby fixture.