PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2014
This year has seen Schoolboys Rugby League continue to develop across the country, and this would not have been possible without the great financial and logistical support provided by the NRL. ASSRL sincerely thanks all those at the NRL who have supported us this year, but most especially Gareth Holmes, Andrew Hill and Martin Meredith, as well as Paul Heptonstall, Paul Walker and the Welfare and Education department. Both our Championships were highly successful and produced superb football.
I’d like to acknowledge the work of all of the volunteer teachers who contribute their time and expertise to give young people a chance to play the fantastic game that is rugby league. They work at all different levels and with much variety in experience and expertise, but their passion is wonderful, and the hours they contribute to the development of the game is incalculable.
Our biennial Conference will be held after my time of writing, but the Conference will address important issues related to our structures, and try to ensure continued improvement in our operations. My thanks go to all contributors.
The 18 Years Championships were an outstanding event. Hosted by the Combined Affiliated States for the first time, the home association NTRL took the games to Goodline Park, the home of Palmerston Raiders, a club with a strong understanding of our ethos and the way that our Championships work. David High and John Mitchell deserve great credit for the smooth running of the Championships, while Trent Gorrie and Darren Manaway were thorough in all the day to day nuts and bolts work. Special thanks to Raiders stalwarts Johnno Johnson and the Hansen family for their unstintingly energetic efforts. In the final, NSWCCC went to an early lead that seemed unassailable. Though NSWCHS made a valiant comeback, CCC held on for an emphatic victory. At these Championships, players were asked for the first time to submit a Statement of Commitment to the Australian rugby league pathway, and this was clearly endorsed by all players and their families.
An impressive squad of twenty four players was selected, and players were presented their jerseys by Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens, an indication of the role of ASSRL in the pathways for Australian Rugby League. These players will tour England and France in November and December. We wish to acknowledge in the strongest possible way the support of the NRL for this tour. Their extremely generous financial grant specifically allocated to this tour means that players and their families have one of the smallest levies ever to pay. Thanks to Andrew Hill and Gareth Holmes for their unstinting work on our behalf, and to David Smith and Todd Greenberg for their approval of the provision of these funds. It will provide an unbelievable educational and football experience for the lucky players selected.
The 15 Years Championships again provided a first, this time the initial instance of joint hosting by two associations. We were hosted jointly by NSWCHS and NSWCIS at Scully Park in Tamworth. We were subject to the well renowned country hospitality throughout the week – Tamworth has great facilities and Wests Leagues Club was generous in its support. Thanks to David Gale, Josh Davis and Charles Bickersteth for their energy and impressive level of organisation. Involvement of the local Men of League association on the gate, and local teachers as volunteers energised their commitment to the game. ARLC Commissioner Wayne Pearce attended the Players’ Dinner, where Canberra Raider, former Australian Schoolboy and local boy Tom Learoy- Lahrs delivered some great messages to the boys as guest speaker. We thank them both for their input.
At both Championships there was a continuation of the successful strategies provided by the NRL of education sessions for players and an information meeting for parents. These events were again both informative and well received by the audience. Thanks here to people like Gareth Holmes, Paul Walker, Andrew Hill and Paul Massey. Former players like Dean Widders, Andrew Ryan and Nigel Vagana also spoke powerfully to both parents and players.
Similarly, at both Championships our new policies on concussion and in-camp supervision were instituted for the first time, with the result of improving the welfare provisions for our young players.
This year we again thank the Referees for their support in officiating at Championships. The experience of Steven Clark and John Topp was invaluable in providing advice and professional development to the young referees, selected on merit, who made it to this level on the refereeing pathway. A refreshing sight in Tamworth was seeing NRL referee Matt Cecchin running as water boy for the officials.
Sincere thanks to John Coates for his continued support in representing the game at both Championships, and for his invaluable input in a variety of ways.
Our 2015 Championships will see us returning to the east coast, with NSWCCC hosting the 15 Years at St Marys, and NSWCIS hosting the 18 Years in Wollongong.
The Affiliated States Championship in Adelaide, was won by Victoria Secondary Schools, and the strong CAS team was chosen at this event. The standard across teams at these Championships was both more impressive and more equal than in previous years. Ken Kennedy and Joe Messina again ran this event in a highly effective way. Graham McNaney should also be thanked for the ideas and standards that he brought to this event.
It was with much pleasure in May that I was able to represent ASSRL at the re-enactment of the first game of schoolboy rugby league played in Australia, 100 years to the day. Congratulations to NSWCCC sport, and especially ASSRL historian Charles McGee for their efforts in making this such a success and highlighting it as an important occasion.
We are indebted to our sponsors, whose generosity allows us to further contribute to the experience of the boys playing the game. This applies especially to our long term gear sponsor, Classic, through the auspices of Tony Magnus, Jim Brennan and Simon Keith. The message from the Department of Health and Ageing, “Don’t let drugs destroy your future”, marries so well with our philosophy, and thus is a valued sponsorship. Similarly, the Australian Training Company’s sponsorship is appreciated because of our common values.
My thanks go to all members of ASSRL Council for their continued efforts in ensuring that as many school students as possible get to play the greatest game of all.
My special thanks go to my fellow Executive members, whose expertise, skills and experience are outstanding, and matched only by their unstinting commitment to the cause. Their work is always impressive, and valued highly by everyone who knows the job they do. Thank you to Secretary Phil Beecher, Treasurer Brian Pearson and Events Co-Ordinator Steve Duclos for the superb job each of you has done again this year. In typical style, having just finished this year’s events, they are currently planning for both the 2015 Championships and hosting the NZRL here for two International matches. It should be another wonderful year.
Caringbah High School