There are a number of challenges within rugby union as a whole. Many of these challenges are common across clubs and regions, however Southern Districts faces some unique challenges.
We have a smaller pool of talent upon which to draw from. Our district does not have any schools with drawcard rugby programs. Local young men who attend schools out of our area and join the school rugby program, leave the local Junior Clubs struggling to consistently find participants across their older teams.
To compound the problem, these young men rarely return to their local area to continue playing rugby. They are often actively recruited after their schooling finishes, to the clubs with strong professional colts programs and remain there throughout their senior rugby lives.
Other clubs colts programs do not struggle for numbers. Unlike Southern Districts, they do not rely on their Junior Clubs, they rely on the schools in their catchment. The gap between under 14s and our colts program is dangerously wide.
We are lucky to have great volunteers within our colts program but the development and management needs of colts is beyond our volunteers. The time commitment we’re asking from them, simply to keep up with the other clubs, makes it almost impossible.
To have any chance of recruiting quality young men into our club, not only from the local area, but further afield, it’s time to follow the lead of other clubs. It’s time to professionalise the development and management of colts and provide a competitive environment where they can flourish and grow.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a team of professionals who can develop rugby and fitness programs, coaching, recruiting, player management, volunteer management and collaboration with schools and other rugby regions?
We are really proud of our history of placing colts into apprenticeships, full and part time work and scholarships with the University of Wollongong. Our club can provide a world of career opportunities. But is this enough?
Boosting our colts program requires more than a one off investment.
Early estimates show that building this program - with staged work over 5 years - will cost at least $100,000 per year. This investment, based on our current budget, would cripple the club. But without this investment, our grade depth and performance will continue to suffer.
This project, via the Australia Sports Foundation (tax deductible donations), will build a new separately governed and strategically founded arm of our club, that will support our local rugby community into the future.