In the aftermath of the Wallabies worst ever showing at a Rugby World Cup, Illawarra District Rugby Union president Tom Ellicott has moved to reassure players, fans and stakeholders that the game in the region was moving in the right direction.
Ellicott's comments come hot on the heels of Rugby Australia (RA) outlining its plans to return the Wallabies back to the top, following their dismal showing at the Rugby World Cup in France this year.
Unfortunately Australia broke its 35-year-long streak of advancing to at least the quarter-finals in every Rugby World Cup since its inception in 1987 (shared with New Zealand and France) after being eliminated in the Pool stages in 2023.
In the aftermath Eddie Jones quit as Wallabies head coach.
RA chief executive officer Phil Waugh has acted swiftly since to try and defuse the drama and steady the ship so to speak.
Ellicott said the IDRU welcomed the reset at RA together with the proactive and proper role the media has played in reporting its concerns to the general public.
"The proposed reforms at Rugby Australia will be directed at the elite programs for the Wallabies, the Wallaroos and to the state-based super rugby franchises.
"The reforms do not affect the operations of New South Wales Rugby and Country Rugby - who will continue to provide significant support, as they have throughout 2023 while we recovered from the COVID years and then, the delayed season due to wet weather in 2023," he said.
"If anything, New South Wales Rugby last week affirmed its responsibility to ensure that the opportunities for grassroots rugby are there.
"We expect that the legacy funding to the District Rugby Competition will continue, particularly with the Lions Tour in 2025, the men's World Cup in 2027, followed by the women's World Cup in 2028.
"Our local competition will stay strong with 10 clubs. There obviously needs to be some work done at Rugby Australia, however, the IDRU remains focused on continuing to develop its local rugby, with a strong focus on our women's programs and pathways."
The IDRU has also issued to all 10 clubs a proposed revised set of competition rules for the 2024 season.
The revised competition rules are set to be formally adopted at the upcoming IDRU AGM to be held at the Builders Club in Wollongong on November 13.
The ongoing development of women's rugby in the Illawarra continues with the start of the Summer 7's leading into the commencement of the representative selection trials and schedule for women's rugby in 2024.
"The board looks forward to receiving any feedback from our rugby community, however, we do not want to get bogged down in the issues which surround the fallout from the World Cup. That is for RA to sort out and quickly. We are focused on is what matters locally in our competition and our rugby community," Ellicott said.
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