The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) today announced measures designed to protect the organisation, its players, staff and clubs during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
As Rugby Australia revealed the steps the national governing body has been forced to adopt to protect the future of the code, QRU followed suit at Ballymore.
QRU CEO David Hanham said: “Every organisation in Australia is grappling with the multiple effects the global COVID-19 pandemic is having on society – and the QRU is not immune.
“The QRU has established three critical goals:
• To protect the health and safety of our people.
• To ensure the financial viability of QRU while protecting the major assets of the Queensland Reds and Ballymore.
• To ensure the safety and viability of our clubs.
“We’re undertaking a three-step process. First, we’re responding to the present situation and managing the continuity of our business. Second, we will reposition the business to suit the future environment – and thirdly we’re preparing for the longer-term, including a 3-year-plan for sustainable growth and prosperity, to be implemented when this is over.”
Mr. Hanham, who has nearly twenty years of sports administration experience, said: “I want to congratulate the federal government on their ‘JobKeeper’ announcement yesterday, which has given businesses like ours a much-needed boost across Australia.
“In two decades at the QRU there has never been a tougher day than this. But what I’ve heard from our passionate staff today is that they want to work and serve Rugby and assist the QRU through this global crisis. Due to the flexibility of the JobKeeper regulations, the QRU’s now able to offer our loyal staff employment. That’s a very positive message – that our people will continue to serve Rugby while they are on the JobKeeper scheme, to ensure that we hit the ground running when Rugby is able to recommence.”
Rugby Australia and RUPA are continuing to discuss the measures centrally contracted players and QRU-contracted players will be asked to bear throughout the period where Rugby is suspended in Australia.
Mr. Hanham explained how the organisation would continue to function and provide services over the coming months.
“We’ve been in existence since 1882 and we’ll continue to provide services and advice to our clubs, sub-unions and affiliates during this period of significant uncertainty.
“Our GM of Community Rugby, Gaven Head, will continue his daily work with our club and community stakeholders as this situation develops and more information becomes available to us from RA and government agencies, relating to our clubs and the grass-roots of Rugby.
“Our GM of Professional Rugby Sam Cordingley and Head Coach, Brad Thorn – will continue to oversee the well-being and the ‘remote training programs’ of our St.George Queensland Reds squad.
“I would like to pay my sincere thanks to all our QRU commercial partners, who are continuing to provide their full support to this organisation during this unprecedented time.
“So too, our Reds members, Fans and Rugby Community, who continue to exercise patience and understanding during this period of extreme uncertainty – for which we are very grateful.”
Mr. Hanham thanked federal and state governments for their close work with the organisation as this health crisis has continued to develop.
“I’d like to thank federal and state governments for the really strong engagement with us on what the future looks like for our participation pathways as well as our elite programs, across men’s and women’s Rugby in Queensland.
“We’ll be continuing to engage with federal and state governments on initiatives to protect the community game as well as the professional arm of Rugby, which are central to the code’s future health in Queensland.
“The decisions we’ve taken today have not been easy for anyone and, working with our colleagues at Rugby Australia, we’ll continue to offer support and advice to individuals and families most impacted by today’s announcements.
“Rest assured, the QRU’s been in existence for 138 years and the measures announced today are designed to ensure that this organisation can continue to support the game for generations to come,” Mr. Hanham added.