General Manager Chris Evans: Why 2019 is an exciting year for Rugby in Victoria

by Rugby Vic Media

With the 2019 Victorian Rugby season fast approaching we caught up with Chris Evans, General Manager of Rugby Victoria, who shared some of the exciting initiatives taking place in 2019.

Rugby Victoria recently launched its Game for All campaign which focusses on increasing participation throughout all levels of the game.

The Rugby Victoria website launched last week. The new digital platform is part of Rugby Australia’s digital ecosystem and will provide Rugby Victoria with a wonderful platform to tell our story and connect with the community.

The Brighton Renault Dewar Shield will return to Channel 31 in 2019 with the weekly match of the round being broadcast on free to air tv each Wednesday form 8.00pm – 9.00pm.

Rugby Victoria has re-structured its Game Development department and has increased investment into this critical area of the organisation. The new structure will create better connectivity between school development programs and clubs. The regional structure will increase transition and build capacity within our clubs.

It has been great to see the Game Development team and Melbourne Rebels players attending so many come and try and registration days over the past month. We look forward to continuing to support these days over the coming weeks as we lead in to the XV a side season.

Rugby Australia has funded a Match Official Manager role for the Southern States and RV is pleased to welcome Shane Barr to the team. Shane will be responsible for referee education and development. We have already seen the positive impact from Shane’s appointment over the first two months of the year.

Rugby Victoria is pleased to welcome Melton and Cerberus back to Senior Rugby and congratulate Brimbank for entering a senior team for the first time in their history.

Congratulations to Kiwi Hawthorn and Moorabbin Rugby Club for hosting Foxtel Touch 7s centres in the lead up to the XV a side season.

The Frank Recruitment Group Bolton Cup (Colts) is forecasting growth with two new clubs entering the competition namely, Footscray and Box Hill in 2019.

The CFA Lindroth Cup is expanding with three new clubs, Casey, Melbourne and Melbourne Uni/Northern splitting to enter their own standalone teams.

Due the success of the Junior girls’ competitions in 2018, Rugby Victoria has expanded the competitions to include a fourth age group, U11 Touch 7s, U15 Touch 7s, U16 7s and U18 7s. Junior girls Rugby is now Rugby Victoria’s fastest growing participation segment and we are forecasting further growth in 2019.

Rugby Victoria in conjunction with the WRDA are facilitating a female only Foundation Course on April 7 for coaches and referees. There is an underrepresentation of female Coaches and Referees in our game and offering a female only education course will provide an environment for new female coaches and referees to learn the fundamentals to become a coach or referee.

Rugby Victoria has aligned our Elite Pathway’s to the Rugby Australia’s National Talent Management Model with three tiers of Academy now in operation.

Yesterday Rugby Victoria and the Melbourne Rebels launched the State’s first every Junior girl’s academy. The academy will focus on the players’ physical development over a 10-week period with the aim of readying them for the U18 Schoolgirls tournament.

Four Melbourne-born Academy players have been secured to continue their involvement in the Rebels’ Super Rugby program. Victorians Navarre Haisila, Sione Tui, Isaac Aedo Kailea and Junior Uelese will continue to develop under the guidance of the Rebels’ high-performance coaching staff. All players will continue to play Club and school rugby respectively, while also having the opportunity to attend select training sessions with the Rebels throughout the Super Rugby season. The announcement will look to continue Haisila’s and Tui’s involvement with the Club, with the two 20-year-olds having already participated in every Rebels pre-season training session.

On 24 February Rugby Victoria in conjunction with VS Barbarians facilitated a VSRU old boys competition. This is a key strategy to engage lapsed players from the school system and provide an environment to participate in XV a side Rugby in a more accessible and flexible way. Over 90 participants pulled on the boots and we looks forward to more regular competition days throughout the year.

Rugby Victoria is pleased to announce a renewed partnership with VicHealth through the Active Women’s and girls’ Program. The program is focussed on encouraging girls aged between 12-17 years to participate in Foxtel Touch 7s for Girls. This is a non-contact modified version of rugby 7s. It allows girls to become involved in rugby in a safe, relaxed social environment.  A number of clubs are facilitating centres in the lead up to the Junior girls’ competition. Rugby Victoria has employed Queensland 7s star Erica Fowler to drive the program.

Rugby Victoria has signed a new partnership with Sporting Fine Art for season 2019. An official supplier of Rugby Victoria, Sporting Fine Art will capture inspiring moments of the upcoming season and portray our grassroots heroes through unique artwork and customised merchandise.

Rugby Victoria has formalised a partnership with Pride Cup and we are in the final stages of formalising a partnership with Pride in Sport. Rugby Victoria and the Melbourne Rebels will shortly be announcing an ‘all of Rugby’ pride round from Community Rugby to Super Rugby in the coming weeks.

Rugby Victoria has a strategic partnership with Disability Sport and Recreation (Wheelchair Rugby). DSR are hosting the Melbourne Wheelchair Rugby International and Ken Sowden Cup (Aus v NZ) at Caroline Springs Leisure Centre from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 March.

Vicsport announced that the 2019 Peter Norman inclusion award has been presented to a researcher who led a world-first study testing the effect of a program designed to end homophobic language in sport. The program was delivered during the 2018 season to teenage rugby teams by current and recently retired players from the Melbourne Rebels. The research, conducted by Erik Denison, from Monash University’s School of Social Sciences, also examined why homophobic and sexist language remains so common in male team sports and how this language drives girls away from sport. We congratulate Erik and our Victorian Clubs for engaging in this important research.

Good luck to all Players, Coaches, Referees and volunteers for the upcoming season.