Tuesday, August 13, 2013
The National Rugby League (NRL) and Touch Football Australia have today launched an historic sporting partnership representing the biggest boost to participation and game development in the history of either sport. The two sports will work together as part of a strategic alliance to create the largest sporting community in the country which will reflect the wider support that exists for Rugby League and the game’s commitment to ensuring there is a ‘place on the field’ for everyone.
The new agreement will bring more than 1.03 million participants together playing in competitions under a joint NRL-TFA banner. This is in addition to the 844,000 girls and boys who currently take part in NRL Development programs each year.
The alliance delivers significant benefits for both sports: a unique and complete pathway for park players and elite athletes that includes contact and non-contact sports – designed so players never leave the game or the field at any point in time during the calendar year or period of their playing life; enhanced inclusiveness, retention, and access to greater, more diverse playing opportunities for all Australians; a better alignment and consolidation of people, resources and competitions across the country – working together on Touch Football and Rugby League under a joint NRL-TFA banner; curtain raisers for the elite Touch Football athletes to showcase their skills and speed on the world stage at State of Origin and Test matches and selected NRL/representative fixtures; a more effective, year-round calendar of events and utilisation of sporting fields’ and amenities under the NRL banner.
At the heart of the strategic alliance is a reuniting of two kindred spirits – after over 40 years apart and now formally coming together as one sporting community. Establishing, arguably and compellingly, Australia’s largest sporting community – bringing together well over 1 million participants across the country involved in competitions.
According to the CEO of Touch Football Australia, Mr Colm Maguire, the strategic alliance between Touch Football Australia and the NRL is a definitive ‘game changer’ for Touch Football (and Rugby League) and a watershed moment in the history and evolution of both sports.
“Touch Football in Australia was born out of Rugby League and the opportunity to create Australia’s largest sporting community aligned with the NRL is as compelling as it is ambitious and fortuitous,” Maguire announced in Sydney today in conjunction with NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Smith. “And, there is a real opportunity to grow the profile of touch both as a recreational game and an elite sport,” he said.
“Not only will our partnership with the NRL provide greater potential to expand the participation base and extend the reach and profile of Touch Football, it will also ensure the sport will benefit significantly from the NRL scale, brand and market and distribution presence,” Mr Maguire added.
“Both parties will share in the potential synergies of alignment: particularly in terms of combined approach and effort, revenue growth opportunities, cost saving efficiencies including shared services, scale benefits and consolidated national resources. Another key feature of the partnership will be the creation of a dual track continuous pathway; from grassroots to elite for both contact and non-contact forms of the game,” he added.
“The corollary to this is the NRL will position Touch Football as its primary recreational game providing greater options for players, catering for all shapes, sizes and skill levels: expanding significantly their age demographics from ages 5 to 70-plus years old and increasing their female participation base, product offerings and mutually beneficial commercial leveraging opportunities,” Mr Maguire added.
“Significantly, the partnership enables Touch Football to realise its vision articulated in its strategic plan, to become Australia’s leading community sport through strategic partnerships,” Mr Maguire said.
The alignment of Touch Football under the joint NRL-TFA umbrella and operations will be in effect an alignment of like minds, resources, people and approaches. Touch Football Australia Chair, Mr Michael Rush, added that while this has been a very carefully considered process over an extended period of time, the development of the partnership and the announcement at this junction is at the right time for both sports and tremendously exciting.
“I can assure all stakeholders connected to our sport that the TFA Board of Management and executive have undertaken a very thorough and demanding assessment and consideration of what this partnership means for our future. We have been diligent and professional while speculating on the exciting outcomes that can be achieved within a collaborative proposition,” Mr Rush said.
“It is our firm view that this strategic alliance is in the very best interests of the sport and our membership. What has truly been encouraging is the fact that our new partner has an identical view.
“We are very fortunate to be in the position we are in today; our sport and our large and diverse membership naturally hold significant appeal to the NRL. And this is clearly both a validation and in large part a direct result of all the commitment, hard work and perseverance of volunteers, staff, players, officials and supporters everywhere that have made the sport what it is today,” he added. “I can assure all of our members and stakeholders that it is a very exciting time to be involved in the sport. It is a credit to all of our sport’s stakeholders that have built the sport and made this partnership possible. “The partnership also ensures we are best equipped now and in the future to meet the resourcing, positioning and pathway challenges impacting the crowded Australian sporting market,” he added.
Mr Maguire added that from a whole-of sport perspective, the continued support of the Australian Sports Commission is pivotal to ensuring that the participation base of both sports expands and provides consolidation support for future growth.
“The outcomes of the announcement will further support the participation targets funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Sports Commission. TFA is grateful for the ongoing contribution by the ASC ($570k in 2013-14) into the sport of Touch Football, particularly within the participation environment,” he said.
Today’s official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding commits each party to finalise the terms of the partnership which will include discussions with the Australian Sports Commission.
According to NRL’s Chief Executive, Mr David Smith, it is a time for great enthusiasm, excitement and optimism for the sport as the NRL enters into this significant growth stage in the game’s history.
“The new agreement with Touch Football Australia is a key strategic step in growing opportunities for Rugby League,” Mr Smith, said today.
“Not only will it see more than one million people play in unified competitions, it brings together people from every state and territory, from almost every age group and every demographic.
“We have been very clear about our ambition to extend the profile and reach of Rugby League and working with Touch Football Australia will also enable us to pursue new commercial and marketing opportunities that we can leverage with new partners.”
Julian Buckmaster – GM, Marketing, Communications and Partnerships, TFA
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