Redundancies tipped to have ‘devastating impact’ on local rugby

Central North Rugby Union says the grassroots level of competition will be hardest hit by recently announced job cuts at New South Wales Rugby Union.

The state’s governing body last week confirmed an organisation-wide restructure by making 12 development officers redundant and letting go almost a quarter of its staff.

Seventy per cent of its workforce has been stood down since April.

Chief executive Paul Doorn said the cuts were required to protect the organisation’s future.

“NSW Rugby came into the COVID-19 pandemic in a solid financial position, but with Super Rugby suspended, a loss in broadcast, sponsorship, ticketing and other revenue sources has seen reduced funding available from Rugby Australia as well as NSW Waratahs revenue, along with a loss of revenue coming into the community game,” he said.

‘Lifeblood of rugby’

The ABC understands the cuts will affect positions of regional development officers, who have played a prominent role in building and maintaining junior competitions in areas such as the central north.

CNRU president Tony Byrnes said the decision could have a devastating impact on the next generation of players.

“It certainly won’t help the effort that’s already been made by our development officer in assisting to get the regional competition going in the 14s, 16s and 18s, which really are the lifeblood of rugby.”

Mr Byrnes said he hoped the decision would be reversed before September, when the staff would be let go as JobKeeper runs out.

“It takes a long time to become a development officer and have all that expertise and skill, so if we lose them and when times improve they might have moved on and we’ve lost all that experience, all that knowledge, all that skill …”

Mr Doorn said NSW Rugby was still committed to the game in regional areas.

“Our commitment to supporting rugby from the beach to the bush is our top priority,” he said.

“That is why we have retained experienced staff that can support our clubs and zones and get the community game back and up and running, as well as support our NSW Waratahs teams, members and fans.

“We have ensured that staff retained have the skills and experience to support community competitions, referee and coach development as well as the different zones.”