A warm “hello” to all our stakeholders, players, coaches, administrators, club committee and office bearers, parents, Schools, GCDRU Clubs, supporters, volunteers, and friends.
As we move towards Christmas and the end of 2023 it seems inevitable that we reflect on arguably one of the most challenging years in the history of the game Rugby Union here in Australia.
Plenty of challenges and positive experiences ahead with the Lions here in 2025, World Cup’s Men in 2027 and Women 2029 then the Olympics in 2032 with 7s Rugby Union.
Sadly, much of 2023 will be remembered for nothing other than the blight of the Wallabies at the World Cup, the goings on of the chosen one – Mr Eddie Jones. Here one minute and gone the next impression be I say it a jack in the box! Is Eddie going to coach Japan or not
As we write this Chairman’s report the media reports state this, but nothing official has come out yet.
Then the age-old question looms of how will Rugby Australia fix the issue and the genuine question “Why don’t they give back and develop the game at the Grass Roots level?”
Our High-Performance Program needs development with a person like Mr. Peter Horne being appointed. He is a great guy with plenty of experience around growth and development of the player and game. Rugby Australia need to either decide on whether a home-grown talent as coach is chosen such as Mr. Dan McKellar or to go with an old University mate of mine, back in the day in New Zealand, Mr Joe Schmidt who is a true gentleman of the game.
His record speaks for itself but whoever Rugby Australia choose the need to stick with them for a given time and give them the opportunity to show their value. After the demise of Mr Rennie some would say unfairly dismissed and rightly so, in their thinking. The proof being in his replacement’s actions.
The impressive statistics and viewing of the World Series of 7s Rugby Union goes only halfway in the showcasing of our Women’s Rugby. Here on the Gold Coast, you only need to look as far as the Youth 7s last weekend at Bond University and this week girls’ teams heading to the World Youth 7s in Auckland. Girls, Women’s Rugby is on the rise and GCDRU needs to get with the program. What about Bond University’s Premier Winning Women’s side for the second year in the Brisbane Women’s competition. There must be something in the water.
Or is it the quality coaches and programs?
Challenging times for Rugby Union at grass roots level, State, and the international stage. On all fronts! Watch this space there are a few changes and initiatives being organised for Rugby Union in 2024.
The 2023 Season saw Coomera and Helensvale return to 1st Grade. The introduction of a second team from Hinterland Celtics saw the GCDRU competition have seven teams in each grade, meaning that the GCDRU competition had grown to twenty one teams in total, two more than 2021 and 2022.
- 1st Grade Winners – Griffith Uni Colleges Knights
- 2nd Grade Winners – Nerang Bulls
- 3rd Grade Winners – Nerang Bulls
- Club Champions – Nerang Bulls
In 2023, the GCDRU had 112 junior teams competing from U6 – U18s. Unfortunately, there were only 3 teams that nominated for the U14 Grade, being Bond Pirates, Helensvale Hogs, and PBC Alleygators, which meant we did not have a viable competition to offer each of these teams. Brisbane Junior Rugby Union welcomed Bond and Helensvale and Far North Coast Rugby Union (NSW Rugby Union) welcomed PBC Alleygators.
Helensvale won the BJRU U14 Division 1 Grand Final. Bond Pirates were runners up in the BJRU U14 Division 3 Grand Final. PBC Alleygators enjoyed a home and away season in the FNC U14 competition and were competitive throughout most of their fixtures.
The GCDRU season itself went well and there were no issues with the weather like years gone past. Juniors kicked off on April 22 when school went back, with competition-wide byes scheduled during the South Queensland Championships at the end of May and the Queensland Country State Championships. The championships were at the end of June/start of July in Rockhampton at the beginning of the the school holidays.
- U12 Winners – Surfers Dolphins
- U13 Winners – Helensvale Hogs
- U16 Winners – GC Eagles
- U18 Winners – Nerang Bulls
This year, the Women were presented with the opportunity to compete in the Southeast Queensland Women’s Cup. Out of the 6 teams involved, 3 from the suburbs of Brisbane, 3 of them were from the Gold Coast. Last year, there was one team from the Gold Coast which consisted of many girls on the fringe of the Bond University Premier side, playing as Coomera Crushers. This year participating teams were:
- Helensvale Hogs
- Hinterland Celtics and
- GC Barbarians (which was made up from players from Colleges, Bond, Coomera, Nerang, Eagles)
- The introduction of pre- season competitions for our Under 18s Clubs. The opportunity for those clubs to have some game time and opportunity with the BJRU with “The Lightning Series”.
- The introduction of an Under 20 competition with our local Union neighbours Sunshine Coast Rugby Union. “The Coast-to-Coast Series ” was born in which players one year out of school or over eighteen having the opportunity to play a home and away program with clubs in both Unions over a five-week period.
- Both exciting new ventures GCDRU are hoping to develop further in 2024 with the possibility with our other near neighbour Union Darling Downs being invited to join us and maybe the ladies to join in.
- The introduction of the GCDRU’s first Goldylocks Invitational 7s tournament at the conclusion of our season. GCDRU are hoping to develop and expand this further in 2024. Discussion has been around the possibility of a Goldylocks Series of 2 or 3 for the senior Men and Women. While Junior Girls and Boys in the future for the Junior Ages. Maybe even a 10’s tournament somewhere in there?
Some positive announcements coming in the months ahead.
As the newly elected 2023-2024 GCDRU Board move forward with pending news from Queensland Country Rugby Union with some Gold Coast Rugby Union identities possible appointments on the representative scene for 2024. New faces in the GCDRU consultancy space and our volunteer ranks with our Cyclones to have a change in its focus and the opportunity to go back to the old times.
A few initiatives to develop further by GCDRU in the area of governance and the Mental Health and well-being space of all stakeholders be it individuals or whanau (family). Some encouraging news coming from our NSW Rugby Union border cousins, the Far North Coast Rugby Union and Mid North Rugby Union in the January and February period. A changing of times and the developing of community relationships through Rugby Union being a focus for the GCDRU Board in 2024.
On behalf of GCDRU I wish all associated with Gold Coast District Rugby Union a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Yours in Rugby,
Mr. Jed Hogan
Chairman GCDRU 2023.