As NSW Junior Rugby Union enters its 65th season of overseeing the junior game in our state, I thought that it would be an appropriate time to delve into the archives and find out exactly what this journey has entailed. And to discover the people, the personalities and obstacles that our predecessors had to deal with.
NSW Junior Rugby Union began existence back in 1957 and unfortunately my first road-block on this journey of discovery was to find that our archives are not all that complete. In fact the earliest annual reports that I could find started in 1980 – you can find all these reports on our website https://www.nswjuniors.com.au/commitee-archive. So I don’t have any records of the committees pre 1980. If you have any information / reports on these early committees or on our Life Members then please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org - we would very much appreciate any such information or photos / reports.
But that didn’t mean that there wasn’t a wealth of information in these records. The first thing I discovered was that there are 18 x LIFE MEMBERS of NSW Junior Rugby Union that have been awarded the highest accolade for their services to the game. Ten of these were awarded before 1980, with only eight having been awarded in the past 40 years –and as you’ll see there are a number of servants to the game that are long overdue such recognition. A fact that we shall attempt to remedy over the next few years to acknowledge these folk. It is worth noting that records at face value alone cannot necessarily convey the positive impact that some of these people have had on developing the game. *Edit - Graphic includes the FOUR new nominations to be put forward at the 2021 AGM for Honorary Life Membership.
One little know fact was that in the early days – right up until the 1993 season, that the ACT Junior Rugby was an affiliate of NSW Juniors. Obviously not being large enough in player numbers to warrant their own association at the start, the ACTJRU was an active member of the NSW Union with delegates sitting on the executive committee helping steer the game. Life Member #5 K.J.Mulherin was one of these ACT based committee members that did much for the growth of the game both in NSW and the ACT. The ACTJRU moved to an autonomous affiliation with the AJRU (Australian Junior Rugby Union) at the end of the1993 season. Ironically the AJRU itself has been somewhat redundant for the past decade.
Another aspect that struck me whilst going over the old reports was the similarities of the issues that these committees faced back then and the problems that we face today. Issues like player recruitment and retention, player safety, finances, the relationship between clubs & schools, weight for age and the funding relations with the Australian Rugby Union (Rugby Au). I guess these issues are universal and as each generation comes through the game they continue to evolve and return in different forms for us to deal with.
The other main thing that I noticed was the amount of constitutional change that has occurred over the years. The format of the NSW Junior committee changes many times over the years as the game grew and committees searched for the optimal structure on how to run the game. Different ideas on affiliate representation, larger committees vs smaller committees and types of roles, meant that many of the roles on committee in the early years are now somewhat redundant.
And it wasn’t always amicable with the hint of coups and boards being rolled over the years not uncommon. I’m glad to say that the past few years have seen all arms of the game working much closer together for the betterment of the sport – and that is reflected in the new board structure with all arms of the game being represented.
The structure of the game and growth of numbers since those early days has meant that our showpiece events like State Championships and City vs Country Carnivals are now much larger. For example the State Champs of 1980 only covered 5 age groups (U10, U12, U14, U16 & U18) where as in 2021 we will have 8 ages in the boys game and another 3 in the girls game. But it is wonderful to be able to look back through the records and see the genesis from which these tournaments came.
I’d like to thank all those wonderful volunteers whom are named in these committees across the many years. We thank you for your service, your commitment and for laying the foundations of what we get to experience today in the form of Junior Rugby Union in NSW.
Our new affiliate structure has Sydney Junior Rugby Union (SJRU), NSW Country Rugby Union (NSW CRU) and NSW Schools Rugby Union (NSWSRU) all represented and working together to foster growth within the game for all our junior players in both clubs and schools within NSW. Onwards and Upwards.
Go NSW and Go Tahs!
President NSWJRU 2017-21
Director NSWRU & Waratahs 2018-21