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New five-year ARU strategic plan aims to broaden player base

New five-year ARU strategic plan aims to broaden player base
April 13, 2016

Having announced inconsistent participation performance and a financial deficit at its AGM this week, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has announced the Australian Rugby Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 underpinned by a vision “to inspire all Australians to enjoy our great global game”.

The five-year plan was built collaboratively by the rugby community with input from all state and territory member unions and constituents, over 8,300 fans, sponsors and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA). It provides the framework for Australian Rugby to achieve its vision, by focusing on four key areas over the next five years:

1. Make Rugby a game for all - Our Community
2. Ignite Australia’s passion for the game - Our Fans
3. Build sustainable success in the professional game - Our Elite Teams
4. Create excellence in how the game is run - Our Administration

The public release of the plan, which was facilitated by leading professional services company, Accenture, comes after the ARU announced its 2015 results at the ARU Annual General Meeting in Sydney on Monday.

It also follows the announcement in December, 2015, of a new media rights arrangement that will inject $285 million into the code over the next five years (2016-2020).

Central to the plan is grassroots development, with the ARU set to increase its development workforce by 50% across the country to drive new programs in schools and rugby clubs, to address declining participation rates, encourage more girls and women to take up the game and diversify the game’s player base.

Introducing the plan, ARU Chief Executive Bill Pulver stated “we believe there is a place in our game for all Australians.

“Australians usually follow a range of sports, not just rugby, but our vision is for every Australian to enjoy rugby however they choose to connect with the game – as a fan, spectator, administrator, volunteer, or player.

“As a country we are changing, and rugby must evolve and challenge its traditional thinking to continue to be relevant and financially sustainable in arguably the most competitive national sports market in the world.

“To encourage more men, women, children and people of all different backgrounds into our Rugby clubs and to follow the game, we need to provide new formats of the game and improve the way we connect with fans by providing better digital and match day experiences.”

VIVA7s, a new fast-paced, non-contact version of Rugby Sevens was launched in 2015 to give Rugby three distinct formats of the game – traditional fifteen-a-side Rugby, Rugby Sevens and VIVA7s.

A national schools program ‘Game On’ was also launched, teaching the basic skills and core values of Rugby, and will continue to be rolled out in public and private schools across the country to give children their first taste of Rugby and to encourage them to develop an interest in playing and watching the game.

Off the back of impressive growth in its digital channels over the past 12 months, in particular during the Rugby World Cup, Australian Rugby’s official website will be re-launched as a news hub for the latest Rugby stories.

The ARU’s new digital strategy is fan-focused with exclusive behind-the-scenes stories and imagery, insider information, statistics, and commentary from some of Rugby’s most high-profile personalities forming the key content to fuel the ARU’s suite of digital platforms.

Pulver added “this is a strategy for Australian Rugby, by Australian Rugby. Every part of the game has contributed to the plan, including over 8,300 fans and members of the Rugby community who completed the Australian Rugby Survey in May, 2015.

“An Australian Rugby strategy group, including the CEOs of all of the ARU’s member unions, representing all of the various unions, competitions and clubs across the country, has been formed to oversee the delivery of the plan.

“Additionally, we are delighted that each of the ARU’s state and territory member unions and RUPA have signed the National Charter that will guide the collaborative decision-making across the game for the next five years.”

At the elite level, the strategy aims to deliver a cooperative high performance environment across all elite teams, including the Qantas Wallabies, Wallaroos, Sevens teams and national under age teams that recognises the importance of performance science, technology and coaching development and ultimately strengthens the game’s elite pathways.

Pulver concluded “ultimately the future prosperity of the game is dependent on the success of our elite teams. We need successful Wallabies, Wallaroos, Super Rugby and Sevens teams. The professional game generates over 90% of the revenue for the code and provides the impetus to invest in other areas of the game.”

The Australian Rugby Strategic Plan sets out some ambitious targets for 2020:

• 356,500 participants across the three formats of Rugby – XVs, Sevens and VIVA7s
• Increase female participation rate to 15% of all participants across three formats
• Average Australian TV viewership of 100,000 for every Super Rugby match played in Australia
• Average Australian TV viewership of 1 million for every Rugby Championship match played in Australia
• Retain 100% of full season members year on year 
• Achieve 1.1 million ticket sales for Wallabies Test matches over the period 2016-2020
• Achieve 1 million visits per month to and Super Rugby team websites and generate a loyalty subscriber base of 500,000
• Achieve >85% of players in national programs having graduated through state and national pathway programs
• Wallabies: win the Rugby Championship, Bledisloe Cup and 2019 Rugby World Cup and at all times retain top 3 world ranking
• Wallabies: ranked number one as Australia’s most recognised national team brand
• Olympic (2016 & 2020) and Commonwealth Games (2018) Medals for men’s and women’s Sevens teams
• 30% of women in Board roles, senior management roles, and 30% women in ARU staff
• Growth of a future fund to $10 million by 2020

Click here to view the Australian Rugby Strategic Plan 2016-2020







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