These are exciting times for Australian Rugby
Australian Rugby Union (ARU) Chief Executive, Bill Pulver has unveiled a new structure and several key appointments to the national body's administration.
Pulver initiated a financial and organisation review of the ARU soon after stepping into the role in February, in an effort to develop a sustainable financial model that supports investment in rugby participation, elite talent development and revenue growth.
Having received the findings of the report, and post discussions with the ARU Board, Pulver said he was now in a position to outline more broadly his direction for the future.
The changes are designed to promote expanded participation in the game with a focus on Sevens and Women’s Rugby, accelerated development of elite talent to support greater success in Super Rugby, the Wallabies and Sevens teams, a re-energised premier rugby competitions where ARU will work with the Queensland Rugby Union and the Sydney Rugby Union to drive initiatives in both States; and a fan engagement strategy to promote growth in the game.
The ARU's revised organisation structure focuses investment on these key initiatives while also driving productivity improvement to support a sustainable financial model for the game.
The restructure includes the creation of new departments and promotion of existing talent within ARU and the introduction of external talent to the 'eadership team.
Ben Whitaker has been promoted to General Manager Development Pathways, which contains roles and responsibilities similar to the previous High Performance Unit.
Anthony Eddy has also been promoted from the former HPU department to General Manager Sevens.
This position has an emphasis on national team programs leading into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, overall development of the Sevens business, and further building the annual Gold Coast Sevens tournament as part of the IRB Sevens World Series.
The restructure has also resulted in the formation of a Commercial and Marketing portfolio to be led by John Nicholl, who joins ARU in mid-May as General Manager.
Nicholl will take up the role after eight years as Business Director with the STW Group where he managed the organisation’s stake in 22 companies.
With 23 years’ experience in Sales and Marketing, he is also a former Regional Marketing Manager and Sports Marketing and Sponsorship Manager for Coca-Cola.
A further key management position remains vacant - General Manager Rugby Participation - a re-branded version of the Community Rugby department that will work closely with the various state Rugby Union Community Rugby departments.
Former Community Rugby General Manager Ian Alker has been promoted to head up the new Rugby Operations department as General Manager.
"We have worked swiftly, but meticulously, to create a more agile structure that aligns the organisation with the strategic goal to become an innovative & profitable leader in a prosperous global Rugby community," said Pulver.
"These are exciting times for Australian Rugby and we will soon have the British and Irish Lions on our doorstep for a tour that has been 12 years in the making.
"The public response to the Lions visit has been outstanding and gives us an opportunity to showcase our great game in grand style in coming months.
"I am delighted to welcome John Nicholl as a valued addition to the ARU team and look forward to the contributions Ian Alker, Ben Whitaker and Anthony Eddy will make in their new roles."