Celebrating 50 years of Rugby Union

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					                ABN: 91 657 986   Inc. Register Number: A 8284
                Corner Canterbury and Middleborough Roads
                PO Box 379, Box Hill Victoria 3128
                Telephone / Fax: 61 3 9890 8487
                Email: Secretary@ boxhillrugby.com.au  Website: www.boxhillrugby.com.au

26 February 2009

Hon. James Merlino MLA
Minister for Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs,
Ministerial Office
Level 7, 1 Spring Street
Melbourne 3000.

Dear Minister

I write to you in a plea for help as an amateur sporting club that is battling for survival. This issue
does not seek funding but seeks your Department’s intervention on an issue of fair play.

Our Club is located in the City of Whitehorse and it is the only Rugby Union Club in the
municipality. We are a Premier Grade Club with 300 players which make up 13 teams from
under 8 to U18 in the Juniors, 3 Senior men’s teams, a women’s team and a veterans team. We
have been the leading club in the Eastern Suburbs and occupy grounds that belong to
Melbourne Water (a storm water retardation basin) which are managed by the City of
Whitehorse at the corner of Canterbury and Middleborough Roads, Box Hill.

By way of background our Club was the only Rugby Club to host teams (4) from the 2006
Commonwealth Games in Melbourne that participated in the Sevens Rugby. We have
consecutively hosted the Victorian Rugby Union Grand Finals for the past 12 years. We hosted
the inaugural South Pacific Rugby Cup in October last year which won an Australia Day Award
from the City of Whitehorse. I also attach for your perusal a brief review of our Club and its

Our grave concerns are that we are treated as second class citizens by the City of Whitehorse
which is beholden to Australian Rules Football and Cricket. Our nearest neighbour Box Hill City
Soccer Club has also been treated poorly for years with 19 teams and a playing membership of
almost 300. The cynic may think that the City of Whitehorse has for some reason ignored the
sports grounds of what may be seen by some as non Victorian sports.

The reason for this letter is to draw your attention to the lack of assistance afforded to us by the
City of Whitehorse to our predicament and to draw your attention to the dire consequence that
will entail if no assistance is forthcoming.

The problem is the state of our playing surface which has deteriorated over the last two years.
Despite our constant requests for assistance we have missed out each year on a summer grass
replacement program for the playing areas and we are never watered. The majority of recipients
of the summer grass program and water have been the local football and cricket clubs. There
are many AFL and Cricket Clubs in the area and what we seek is that all sports be treated

                                  Celebrating 50 years of Rugby Union
equally and that there be proportional distribution of the assistance across all sport types and
participation rates and that there be no discrimination.

This year we had a truck load of sand dumped to top dress the ground in October but with no
grass seed. To the man in the street it is not difficult to form the opinion that there is inequity
when comparing this assistance with that given to the venues of other forms of sport.

 The current outlook for our Club is grim because if we are barred from playing due to the state
of the surface we will be forced to refund player fees and players will leave to play their rugby at
clubs in other municipalities. In this our 50th anniversary year this would be like a dagger through
our heart. Our parent body has also indicated that they will have to break with tradition and
transfer the Grand Finals to another venue in this the Centenary year of Rugby Union in Victoria
and perhaps be lost forever if another Club is afforded the opportunity. The financial impact to
our Club of losing the revenue from hosting these finals is significant as we are a working class
club with three generations of players and many migrants. We have worked hard for what we
have and are proud to be the only Rugby Club in the City of Whitehorse as we provide a
sporting outlet for the many migrants who have not been brought up with AFL.

Therefore Minister, this sincere plea to you, is to seek your department’s support in getting our
ground repaired before this season commences on 18 April and a temporary exemption from the
water restrictions. There are a few large bare patches and with a 6 week program of watering
and the surface re-seeded, I am confident it will improve. I have spoken to the person in charge
of Parks at the City of Whitehorse, Mr David Digby and they do not appreciate the impact of their
inaction on such a large number of players and the community in general. We are the only rugby
club in the City of Whitehorse.

Please consider this request favourably and your immediate attention will be greatly appreciated
as urgent action is necessary.

If you have any queries or require any further information please do hot hesitate to contact the

Yours sincerely

Keith de Kretser
Mobile: 0401 140 411
Email: keithdek@bigpond.net.au

C.c.   Mr Robert Clark, Member for Box Hill (our Patron.)
       Cr. Helen Harris OAM, Mayor of Whitehorse
       Ms Noelene Duff, CEO City of Whitehorse.
       Mr Gary Gray, President of the Victorian Rugby Union

                               Celebrating 50 years of Rugby Union
                                      BOX HILL
                                           Est. 1958
                               ABN 91 516 116 606 Inc. No. : A8284
                                            Affiliated with
                                      Victorian Rugby Union
                                Member of the Australian Rugby Union

                                      Home of the


               CLUB REVIEW 2008
VRU Review - Box Hill RUFC 2008 doc          1/8
Our Mission
    •    To develop Junior and Senior Rugby in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne and to be a
         major force in Rugby Union in Victoria.
    •    To provide excellent facilities to both non-playing members and players.
    •    To engage the community in the City of Whitehorse to participate in an International game
         and to foster healthy lifestyle choices by playing Rugby Union or its non-contact version
         Touch Rugby.
    •    To contribute to the growth and development of Rugby in Victoria
    •    To be an active and respected stakeholder and leader in the Rugby Community of Victoria

The Box Hill Rugby Union Football Club emerged from humble beginnings in December 1958 and
has developed into a major strength in the Victorian Rugby Union. With its mission and goals
specifically aimed at junior development, the Club is consolidated to continue on to greater
heights, both for the club and the players who represent it. The Club is a strong supporter of the
Victorian Rugby Union(VRU) with representatives on the committee actively participating in
initiatives to improve the code in Victoria. In 2009 it celebrates its 50th Jubilee when it fielded its
first side in the Victorian Club Competition.

Club Facilities & Location
The Club boasts excellent facilities with two pitches and licensed Club Rooms with full bar and
accommodation to host up to 100 persons to a sit down meal. It has excellent facilities for the
players and the ground is ranked the best in Victoria.

The Club is located at the corner of Canterbury and Middleborough Roads in a leafy park precinct
Sparks Reserve and at a very busy intersection which from VICROADS statistics prior to the
opening of the Eastern Freeway had 97,000 vehicles pass through the intersection each day.
Box Hill is a major centre in the City of Whitehorse. Our club is at Sparks Reserve which links up
with the Monash Freeway to the South and the Eastern Freeway to the North. We are just 20
minutes from Melbourne central along the Eastern Freeway, exit at Middleborough Road.

Club History
The Club had a humble beginning in 1958 when a few enthusiasts decided to form a rugby club in
the fast growing area to the East of Melbourne, and appropriately named it the Eastern Suburbs
Rugby Union Football Club. They gathered together a group of young players, the nucleus being
from the Box Hill Boys High School who, together with several older players then granted
dispensation, was entered in the 1959 Victorian Rugby Union Colts (Under 19) competition.

The Club changed its name to the Box Hill Rugby Union Football Club in 1961 and continued to
use the Surrey Park ground for a number of years, during which a second and third XV was added
and the 1st XV promoted to First Grade (in 1966). Meanwhile the Colts had won the Club's first
VRU Grand Final (in 1962) and an Under 16 team had entered the VJRU competition in 1963. By
1965 the Club had teams in all VJRU grades. The Club produced its first State representative in
Peter Wilson in 1961 and won its first Club Championship in 1968.

The Box Hill Rugby Union Football Club has always had a mission to promote junior rugby and its
players and a concerted drive was made to promote the game in local schools. It was fortuitous
that the Box Hill Boys High School had shown the way by introducing the code before the Club
was established and this was due to the years of dedicated promotional work done by Cec
Hodder, a master at the School and the Club's first Life Member.

In 1962 the Club proposed to move to its present site at the corner of Middleborough and
Canterbury Roads and years of negotiations followed in which long time Club Captain, Vice
President and then President Mick Headbury played a leading role. The clubrooms and grounds at
what is now known as the RHL Sparks Reserve became the new home of the Club in 1969. Since
the establishment of the Club at Sparks Reserve additional extensions to the buildings and overall
upgrading of facilities.

VRU Review - Box Hill RUFC 2008 doc            2/8
Premierships have been won in most grades and many of the Club's players have been selected
for Victorian State representation. A number of players achieved Australian selection with Lloyd
Johannson becoming the first Wallaby representative in 2005

1997 was a significant year in three ways. The first women's rugby teams, known as the "Fillies"
was formed and were runners up in the first year of competition. Most importantly Melissa Latu, a
member of that inaugural team, was selected as a member of the Australian women's rugby team
to play New Zealand. Melissa is the first member of the Club to be selected as a senior Australian
team member whilst still actively playing for the Club.

Completion of the 40th Anniversary of competition was celebrated in 1999, a very successful year
for the Club a big highlight was the First XV winning the first First Grade Premiership in the Club's
history. The Club has since won the First Grade Premiership in 2000 and 2001, the Third Grade in
2003 and the Women's in 2001, 2002 and 2005 and 2008.

In 2007, the Club formed the cornerstone of the District Team – Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union
with 13 players in the team. The Box Hill Rugby Union Football Club, from a modest start in 1958,
has developed into a major force in Victorian Rugby Union being a Premier Division Club for many
years. With its mission and goals specifically aimed at junior development, the Club is positioned
to achieve greater success, both for the Club and for the players who represent the club.

VRU Review - Box Hill RUFC 2008 doc           3/8
1. On-field player performance and depth in past few seasons.
    • Multi-cultural family oriented Club
    • 5 Senior teams includes Veterans and Women
    • 9 Junior teams from under 8 to under 18
    • 7 State representative players in the Victorian Axeman team, 6 State representatives in
      the Victorian Under 14’s, 4 Victorian Schoolboys and the State Under 14’s Coach.
    • Senior Club in Eastern Pillar Rugby Team with 16 representatives in the squad
    Player numbers in season 2008
                    Teams            Male            Female            TOTAL
                Senior               100*              31               131
                Veterans               53              0                 53
                Juniors               158              2                160
                TOTAL                 311              33               344
               * includes about 25 part-time players

    Number Teams in Senior Competition in 2008 was 5 Teams
    1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, Women and Veterans

    Number of Teams in Junior Competition in 2008 was 9 Teams
    Under 8 (X2)                  Under 14 (X2)
    Under 10 (X2)                 Under 16
    Under 12                      Under 18

    SENIORS – In general
    • The Senior Teams have played in the finals for the past few seasons have not been lower
       than 5th on table in 1sts and 2nds. In 2008, the 1st XV finished fourth and lost in the semi-
       final, the 2nd XV were minor Premiers and lost in the Grand Final, the Women won the
       Women’s Grade.
    • The past five seasons has featured 5 Senior Teams being represented in the following
       Grades: Premier 1, Premier 2, Premier 3 or Colts, Women and Veterans with the critical
       age group being Colts.
    • Player registrations have averaged about 75 Senior Grade players, about 53 Veterans and
       about 20 – 23 Women.

    JUNIORS – In general
    • Box Hill fielded teams in all age groups with two teams in the Under 14’s and two teams
       in each of the Pathways Under 8’s and Under 10’s Competitions.
    • Final competition placings for 2008 were:-
       Under 18’s – 5th
       Under 16 B’s – 6th
       Under 14 A’s – 2nd
       Under 14 B’s – 8th
       Under 12 B’s – 4th
    • Registrations have been gradually increasing. The vast majority of junior players are from
       non Australian backgrounds and it is disappointing that no inroads had been made into the
       local schools traditional Australian Rules stronghold despite a sustained advertising
    • All teams had dedicated backs and forwards coaches.
    • Most teams suffered from the loss of Schoolboy players
    • Commenced Working with Children Accreditations for all 2009 coaches, team
       management and officials.

VRU Review - Box Hill RUFC 2008 doc          4/8
2. Current Junior player development strategies (if applicable)
   covering existing number of teams and strategies for
   recruitment and retention.
    •     Try Rugby program
    •     Eastern Suburbs Rugby Academy
    •     Schools Marketing program – Primary
    •     Dedicated website www.boxhillrugby.rugbynet.com.au
    •     Jersey supplied by club and other merchandise provided at cost
    •     Off season fee free touch rugby
    •     Reduced fees for siblings
    •     New Player introduction reward
    •     Substantial party bags at end of season for the players
    •     Numerous subsidised functions

3. Current facilities and future plans.
    Sparks Precinct Plan – Just about finalized pending final endorsement by Council. Has been
    delayed due to local elections.
    • Off street parking
    • Outside canteen
    • Three fields with lights, Pitch 1 hopefully match standard (est. next 2 years)
    • Extra changing rooms for women(x2), First Aid(x1) and Referees(x1) (est. next 5years)
    • Additional Storage facilities (est. next 5years)

4. Quality of club administration, including coaching and team
   management, and future volunteer recruitment strategies.
    Administration of the Club is overseen by a Board elected by the Members. The Board is
    made up of the following officials:
    2.       VICE PRESIDENT
    3.       SECRETARY
    4.       TREASURER
    5.       DIRECTOR OF RUGBY
    6.       DIRECTOR of JUNIORS(Junior Co-ordinator)

    7.       DIRECTOR of BAR
    8.       DIRECTOR of CANTEEN
    9.       DIRECTOR of FACILITIES(Buildings)
    10.      DIRECTOR of FACILITIES(Grounds)
    13.      DIRECTOR of MARKETING

VRU Review - Box Hill RUFC 2008 doc           5/8

    Also invited to Board Meetings are Senior Players delegates for both the Men and Women
    elected by the players and the Club Captain elected by the Board. They do not have voting

    As the Club has a significant Junior Membership, the day to day issues of the Junior Section is
    administered by a Junior Committee under the chair of the Junior Co-ordinator (elected and
    sits on Board), Junior Administrator (elected and sits on Board), Registrar, Canteen Co-
    ordinator, Ground Co-ordinator. The Junior Co-ordinator and Junior Administrator are financial
    members of the Club with full voting rights. The Junior Committee have discretion to manage
    the affairs of the Junior Section including their own bank account but come under the
    governance of the Club’s fiscal policy where the Club Treasurer is a signatory to the Junior
    Account. The junior Co-ordinator is the delegate to the VRU on all matters pertaining to the
    Junior Competition.

    • Fully documented policies and procedures manual incorporating the policies of the ARU,
      VRU, Department of Sport, and all local statutory authorities that impact on the
      administration and conduct of the Club. Key office holders are briefed and given a
      package that outlines their responsibilities, the documentation to be used and reporting
      requirements and standards expected from the position.
    • Level 2 “Good Sports Club” accreditation.
    • Player and Member code of conduct.
    • Volunteer recruitment an issue. Typical issues like most sports that do not have the depth
      of support like AFL and Soccer in Victoria. Few hands doing all the work hence cannot
      critically focus on key roles for club development as a profitable business and
      professionally administered. It is a critical area as Club’s are no longer the “Amateur” Club
      but are heading to semi-professionalism /small business in order to survive and meet the
      corporate obligations of the parent body, local authorities and the expectancy of the
      players and members. It is a critical area and a problem that is universal in all Clubs
      particularly competing as the minor football code in an AFL dominated State.

    •  A strong commitment to further player recruitment to ensure that the club can put 3 senior
       grade teams and Colts on the field in addition to continued support for the Box Hill
       Women’s team. Recruitment will focus on strong networking activities (local South African
       and New Zealand social groups, increased marketing activities including posting of
       marketing material on strategic advertising boards. Increased support for local schools
       rugby activity to increase Colts participation.
    • Recruiting volunteers is the biggest challenge as society values and expectations have
       changed significantly with the diversity of interests. The Club makes a passionate plea for
       volunteers and even at Junior level, the demands placed by duty of care and
       responsibility, the demands for increased work to ensure financial security, the shift in
       junior sport from being a part of the school curriculum to clubs has placed increased
       demands on parents to share their time between siblings. The Club acknowledges the
       contribution of volunteers who are recognised at the award presentation. The Junior
       section has imposed a Volunteer levy as part of the membership fee. The Club is also
       looking at reward system such as a reduction in fees or complimentary bar credit or an
       invite to club functions.

    • In an AFL dominated State and with Soccer as the next major football code has made it
       difficult to get sponsorship. Perseverance and some networking have provided some
       limited opportunities that have been well received.

VRU Review - Box Hill RUFC 2008 doc          6/8
    •    The club has a strong focus on gaining significant sponsorship in it’s 50th Anniversary Year
         and has assembled a panel of members dedicated to this cause.

5. Financial management and corporate governances.
    •   Incorporated Non-profit Association under the Incorporations Act 1981
    •   Incorporation Registration No. A0008284G
    •   Registered for GST and ABN 91 516 116 606
    •   The Club’s fiscal year is from 1 October to 30 September.
    •   Fully documented policies and procedures manual incorporating the policies of the ARU,
        VRU, Department of Sport, and all local statutory authorities. Key office holders are briefed
        and given a package that outlines their responsibilities, the documentation to be used and
        reporting requirements and standards expected from the position.
    •   Whist not a rich Club, the Club has no debts and does not owe any money to financial
        institutions or any persons.
    •   Prudent fiscal management has ensured the Club’s survival often having to make
        sacrifices and make the most of what it has got to be competitive both on and off the field.
    •   About 98% of all Senior and Junior registered players have paid their subscriptions for
        2008 with those having hardship having separate conditions to accommodate their
    •   Poor revenue streams from the truncated competition in 2008 and a reduction in match
        day spectators has placed added pressure on the Club.
    •   The Club has been compliant with its responsibilities under Incorporation and as a
        registered enterprise for GST and has not been subject to audit by Consumer Affairs
        Victoria or the ATO.
    •   The accounts are audited each year by a professional accredited auditor.

    1. To ensure the long term financial security of the Club.
    2. To minimise the cost of playing rugby for its members.

    Unfortunately the club faces the prospect of passing costs on to players due to:
    • Changes in the traditional mix of club income,
    • Trading through the club has significantly fallen due to a fall in the number of persons
       attending the club as competition and related fixtures not attracting viable number of
    • Changing profile of club members
    • Uncertainty and falling attractiveness of local and international special events
    • Changes in the club cost structure such as increases in traditional operating costs,
                Ground rental (unique to Box Hill) about $6500 for 6 months
                Imposition of additional competition costs
    • Changing profile of club members ~ volunteer support falling
    • Inability to not pass on costs due to economic environment.
    • Except for normal outstanding operating accounts, the club has no long term major
      outstanding financial obligations arising from the recent development of club house and
      acquisition of equipment.
    • Increase investments (approximately $20,000) to achieve financial stability and provide
      returns to help cover operating costs.
    • Future capital expenditure on hold until self generated funds and/or grants, sponsorship,
      etc. obtained.

VRU Review - Box Hill RUFC 2008 doc           7/8
    •    Club's celebration of 50th Anniversary with events and merchandise (e.g. player's
         jumpers) is to be funded from the investment.
    •    Unencumbered club facilities for its members which also provide a source of income.
    •    Controlling costs in order to
                  Rationalise and manage existing costs
                  Reduce costs with increased membership involvement
    •    Investigate potential of co-operative clubs seeking discounts within common costs with
         single supplier
    •    Changing the income mix
               Negotiating with council regarding potential advertising position of club site
               Increasing sources of sponsorship and grants
               Player fees based on realistic budgeting of financial position of club and
               enforcement of payment

6. Acievements.

    •    Regular attendance at VRU meetings.
    •    Initiated the Presidents meetings last year which have become a regular forum for Club
         presidents to discuss and evaluate issues affecting the Clubs and rugby community and to
         make submissions to the VRU for consideration.
    •    Hosted the VRU Grand Finals for the past 11 years in succession and other competition
         events like the Junior and Senior Tens during the season.
    •    Hosted the first Try Rugby program in Victoria in 2003 and then again in 2007
    •    Hosted the ACT Brumbies Junior Coaching program 2005 - 2007
    •    Hosted Eastern Suburb Schools Gala Days 2004, 2005 and 2007
    •    Hosted the ARS Championship till they were played under lights in 2002 - 2004.
    •    Hosted 4 Countries participating in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Sevens Rugby
         in 2006 the only club to do so.
    •    Has been a training venue for State Representative Teams except for Sundays in recent
    •    Harvey Coombe – Distinguished Services to Rugby Award winner in 2006.
    •    The Club has provided a number of State representatives both at Junior and Senior level
         and also National Honours as follows
         Denis Collard            1964
         Matt Hassall             1976
         James Hyde               1982
         Ben Farley               1993, 1994
         David Palavi             1994
         Andrew Hendry            1995
         Melissa Latu             1996, 1997 – 1999 & 2002
         Anita Carlin             1998 - 1999
         Rex Tapuai               1999 – 2003
         Michael Mclean           1999
         Lloyd Johannson          2000 - 2006*
         Ben Tapuai               2006 - 2007
         * Made his debut with the Senior Wallaby side against the New Zealand All Blacks in
         August 2005 scoring a try on debut.

VRU Review - Box Hill RUFC 2008 doc           8/8

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