PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2015
This year has been an enormously successful one for Australian Schoolboys Rugby League, with continued positive development in our organisation, the trip of a lifetime for the 2014 Australian Schoolboys to England and France, a highly successful 2015 two Test series against the Junior Kiwis, two magnificent National Championships, and a highly impressive CAS Championships. The Test series against New Zealand was in considerable doubt for quite some time, but through the auspices and support of Andrew Hill, Gareth Holmes, David Smith, Todd Greenberg, and others at the NRL, we were able to convince the Kiwis to send their 18 Years National Team to play us. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the NRL for ensuring that this series took place.
Our Biennial Conference last November again allowed Council to review some of its current practices, address suggestions for improvement and ensure that we are up to date with the directions of the game. As a result, in 2015 the Championship draw reverted to the previous format for the pool system at the 18 Years Championships. A proposal to combine the 15 years and 18 Years Championships was discussed but it was finally decided that the negatives for such a move significantly outweighed the positives of the current structures. Our thanks go to all contributors who again provided support to ASSRL in our efforts to maintain best practice.
The tour of England and France at the end of 2014 was a great success, and a touring experience enjoyed by all of the young men who undertook it. The team won all three warm up games, split the Tests one each with the England Academy, and won both Tests against France. Australian Schoolboys have a great reputation in both countries, and we were hosted very generously wherever we went. ASSRL Executive made number of useful contacts on the tour which might be fruitful in maximizing the experience of our players when we return in 2018.
March saw the retirement from teaching of our esteemed Treasurer, Brian Pearson, and thus his retirement from the Executive. Brian’s vibrant personality matches his varied skills, and his contributions as to Executive, Council, and rugby league in schools over many years have been vast and much appreciated. Events Co-Ordinator Steve Duclos will soon follow Brian into retirement, and thus has decided not to stand for his position again. We’d also like to thank Steve for his contributions to schoolboy rugby league over so many years.
The 18 Years Championships were superbly organised. Hosted by the NSW Combined Independent Schools at Collegians Sporting Complex, Figtree, the venue was both new to us and a most suitable facility. Darran Gardiner was highly organised and efficient as Convenor, guided by the experienced hands of Phil Schaefer and Bruce Wallace. Thanks, too, to people like Andrew Hutchison and Craig Baker for their active working contributions. Special thanks Collegians Illawarra for their generous financial and logistical support. It was good to have David Riolo involved in this capacity. Members of the 1972 Australian Schoolboys team were invited to the Players’ Dinner. Players were addressed by Ian Schubert, Dan Hunt, Shaun Timmins and Luke Keary, who all delivered strong messages to the players about principles for success in the future. These Championships provided a consistently outstanding standard of rugby league, with many games evenly contested, including the frantic final, won narrowly by NSWCHS over NSWCCC.
A very strong squad of seventeen players was selected to represent Australia in 2015 from these Championships. Their camp at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast was acclaimed by all as a fine venue for assembly and training. The First Test was played at Suncorp Stadium on the same program as the Queensland Cup Final, and after a tight first half our boys put on a great show in the second half to win 70-24. Our sincere thanks go to the Queensland Rugby League for their generous hosting, as well as the opportunity for our boys to play at such a wonderful venue. The Kiwis toughened up their defence for the Second Test at Kougari Oval, Wynnum, but the class of our boys shone through for a 30-6 victory. It was great to be back at the “Home of Schoolboy Rugby League”, and the folk at Wynnum, especially Roy Wyatt and Stan Plath, again did everything they could for us. This was the first time since 2007 that the series was not drawn, and the aggregate scores of our team is a record for Australia/New Zealand 18 Years Tests series.
It was at this game that I was proud to present Scott Thornton with his Honorary Life Member award, deserved recognition for his valued service to our organisation over many years as physiotherapist extraordinaire.
The 15 Years Championships were hosted by NSWCCC at St Marys, supported by St Marys Leagues Club. Convenor Tim White did a great job in his first time in the role, and was ably supported by Phil Tobin, Ann Marie Bissett, John McKnight and Brian Battese. We were pleased to welcome ARLC Commissioner Dr Chris Sarra to the Championships, and Todd Greenberg to the Players’ Dinner, where Bryce Cartwright and Dallin Watene Zelezniak delivered thoughtful messages to players, based on their experiences as participants in ASSRL Championships. Congratulations to Queensland Maroons in Pool A and Western Australia in Pool B who both won their title for the third consecutive year.
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. There was a lot of positive feedback about the Parents’ Meeting from those who attended. Thanks here to people like Gareth Holmes, Paul Walker, Andrew Hill and Paul Massey.
We again thank the Referees for their support in officiating at the Championships and Tests. 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 number of referees who have officiated at our Championships are starting to make it through the ranks towards the NRL.
Sincere thanks to John Coates for his continued support in representing the game at both Championships, as well as taking judiciary responsibility at the two Tests, and for his invaluable input in a variety of ways.
The Affiliated States Championship in Darwin was won by Victoria Secondary Schools, despite the strong opposition of the home state. A good CAS team was chosen at this event to contest the National Championships. Joe Messina again ran this event in a highly effective way, with John Mitchell and his NRLNT staff giving strong assistance. Graham McNaney should also be thanked for his support of this event.
It was with much pleasure that I was able to represent ASSRL at the GIO Cup Final at Penrith, where Kirwan State High School played some enterprising football to defeat Patrician Brothers Blacktown in a convincing manner.
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, and Steve Noyce and Simon Keith. The Australian Training Company’s sponsorship has continued, as has our association with them. Most of all, though, we are appreciative of the NRL, whose financial support is fantastic, but it is also backed up by logistical support, good advice and strong negotiating power.
It is with sadness that I note the passing away of Barry Gavin, OAM. Barry was our first and very long standing Treasurer and Executive member, Team Manager for the 1979 side that toured France and England, and he made other significant contributions to schoolboy rugby league in Queensland. He was one of those larger than life characters, and will be sorely missed. I represented ASSRL at Barry’s funeral in October. Also in attendance were a number of our Life Members.
The volunteer teachers who are the lifeblood of our organisation donate thousands of hours of time, and impressive expertise to give young people the chance to experience the great game of rugby league at all sorts of levels. The ASSRL appreciates you all! Keep up the good work. The game would not be the same without you.
My thanks go to all members of ASSRL Council for their continued efforts in ensuring that schoolboy rugby league continues to make an important contribution to the game. I would especially like to acknowledge Phil Hall, Steve Parle and Phil Schaefer, all Life Members and longstanding Council delegates, who have made long term, extremely meaningful contributions both at our level and to their own association, and have retired from their positions this year. Retiring, too, is Steve Duclos, who has been a Council delegate in the past, and Events Co-Ordinator for the last three years. I thank him for his contribution.
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 Anthony Lanskey 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 a very busy 2016, including a visit by the England Academy. It should be another wonderful year.
Caringbah High School