ASRU President’s Report AGM 2021

Australian Schools Rugby Union


2nd June 2021

It has once again been a challenging year for school sporting bodies with the spectre of Covid limiting representative and local participation in sports.

The difficult decision was made to postpone the 2020 championships as well as our scheduled fundraising lunches as borders closed and health and well-being reasonably became our priority.

Already 2021 has been challenging for ASRU with a statement issued by School Sport Australia on 9 March to cancel all national schools’ championships.  After consideration – even though we operate as an independent body – we made the decision to follow that advice and again cancelled the Championships in the traditional format.

ASRU supports the SSA priority of the well-being of students, teachers and officials.

It has become evident that schools are in a difficult position – sending players interstate can be risky with boarders closing, sometimes with less than 24 hours to lock down.

Queensland’s Department of Education certainly forbids all interstate travel. But interstate games are okay if a team travels into Queensland. This is just one example of the complexities. Some professional sports have created travel bubbles but this is not an option for schools without considerable additional funding.

We are optimistic about the resumption of championships and touring teams in 2022.

In 2020 we welcomed an interim CEO at Rugby Australia, Rob Clarke and then finally a permanent CEO Andy Marinos.

This year we have had successful meetings and improved but limited interactions with RA. We also held some initial meetings with Global Rapid Rugby representatives before the Super Rugby Au and Stan deals were announced. There is still much do to in the funding arena for ASRU and we are grateful for the ongoing support of our two biggest cash donors and supporters, the ASRU Foundation and the NSW Rugby Club Foundation; and are grateful for the ongoing support and generosity of our individual donors.

The Australian Schools Rugby Foundation could not raise funds in 2020 due to covid and is planning two luncheons this year

•          Sydney on 27th August, Guests in Sydney will include—Sir Peter Cosgrove and the 1981 Australian Schools Team for the 40th anniversary—they toured the UK and Ireland for 14 games undefeated.

•          Brisbane on 10th September.

The Foundation has a small capital base—which it will try to build up in the next few years to a more sustainable level. It is legally separate organisation from ASRU and has its own Board of business people, supporters and three ASRU representatives.

A reminder ASRU is registered with the Australian Sports Foundation and thus can now give tax deductibility for donations. A “Friends of Schools Rugby“  and $100 Club scheme has been devised to solicit donations and again an EOFY campaign will occur to our large database. Links are on the website and also please consider leaving a legacy for ASRU in your will.

For the second year of my ASRU Presidency we saved significant money in travel as we dealt with the pandemic and adopted technologies to stay in touch and ran meetings via zoom.

A Tri State Carnival has been organised in Canberra 28-30 June 2021with Canberra, ACT NSW and Victorian teams attending. Although not an official ASRU event we are very supportive of this kind of competition to create opportunities for the players. The carnival looks and feels different and of course includes girls 7s players too. Thanks to Chuck Ardron, Matthew Hutichison and Kevin Culliver for coordaining this carnival.

From the Canberra Carnival we will pick a Barbarian side and a President’s XV  to play each other and/or an incoming Tonga touring side  later in the year.

Australian Schools and Under 18 Team in 2021 planning is underway to tour NZ in late September/early October. ASRU to appoint the Manager Ben Lowrie (St Laurence’s, Brisbane), an Asst Coach (Jay Tregonning) (Illawarra Grammar School) and a selector, all appoints carried over from 2020. The team will be funded by RA who will make all the arrangements.

PositionAustralian Schools & U18Australia AAustralian BarbariansCombined States
ManagerBen LowrieGavin HoskingKieran SmithMatt Barlow
Assistant Manager  John Guy 
Head Coach Dean HardgravesDaniel HawkeRob Nowlan
Assistant Coach (1)Jay TregonningRyan SchultzBen McGeeJames Barkell
Assistant Coach (2) Lachlan White  
S&CJohn RousettosKirk Alexander  
PhysioTom Lombardo Narelle Veverka 

The President and Hon Secretary will go to NZ for this tour partly funded by RA. A meeting, as in the past, will be held with NZ Schools Rugby officials with whom the ASRU has had a long and good relationship.

Tonga Tour 2021 is being planned for late September, subject to Covid they are still keen to come, particularly in light of the new Paskifika team. The main purpose of these tours by Tier 2 countries is to give regional and sub union players the experience of playing against a national team. Thus to promote schools rugby through its internationality they will play games in Qld and play Australian Schools Barbarians Team selected after the Canberra games

Future possible Tier 2 Country tours—again subject to Covid are in discussions for future years including Samoa, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and quite a few other possibilities.

It is great to report that after several years of work the archive of the ASRU have been consolidated and fully classified. They are housed in the ASRU store at Castle Hill. Andrew Elliot looks after this store. There are discussions on going of the possibility of a “museum” of schools rugby souvenirs being considered—to be housed in a willing school.

I am grateful to the strong executive and committee members who volunteer their time and continued to be passionate about rugby in a very unusual year. We look forward to the next year and the rollout of the vaccine to the Australian population to return schools and sport to a new imperfect normality.

One of the important aims of schools’ rugby is the ability to self select and create opportunities for any player to trial for a team, ASRU continues to promote the equity model and the importance of the teacher as coach.

The core of Australian schools is the teacher coach and the understanding and empathy that goes with being a good teacher and understanding the vital needs of a year 12 student to participate and succeed in their last years of official schooling. This simply cannot be underestimated.

We are continuing to grow our profile across platforms including Instagram and Facebook – including a new look website, complete with archive section and a new search a player option. Just type a player’s name in for their stats.

I must make special congratulations to Libby Nankivell for her appointment as the Vice President of Queensland Rugby Union. This is a great appointment, not only as a female in the role but significantly for the wider rugby community – someone with true passion for rugby and representing community rugby, not just another ex-representative player in the role. Libby is driving cultural change and we wish her all the very best

Yours in Rugby,

Mr Cleary



2024 ASRU Championships

The ASRU would like to formally invite State and Territory affiliates to participate in the 50th Australian Schools Rugby Championships. … Continued