Former Wallaby Marty Roebuck will lead the united rugby board in NSW.
Former Wallaby Marty Roebuck will lead the united rugby board in NSW.

Warring parties unite to resuscitate NSW rugby

NSW Rugby boss Andrew Hore said the game could no longer afford disunity, as his organisation finalised the merging of two boards that had been warring for years.

The NSW Rugby and Waratahs boards were officially reunited, to be led by new president Marty Roebuck, at the annual general meeting this week.

With Australian rugby struggling financially and for public resonance amid poor performances, Hore said within NSW there was common ground in a need to put an end to agenda-driven fights.

"There's definitely a feeling that we've got to pull together here for the good of the sport," Hore said.

"That's been one of the heartening things over the past 18 months, there are people that genuinely care, they're not always the people that are speaking in the press, they're people who are working bloody long, hard, voluntary hours behind the scenes to get rugby back to where it should be at all levels.

"People see we need to change and move forward.

"There wasn't any nastiness or upheaval, it was like 'We've got to do this'."

Under the new arrangement, the united board will oversee three new advisory councils that look after "metro", "country" and "semi and professional" rugby in the state.

"In the short time I've been here I've seen people who want to be involved, who want a voice, and an intention to work together, not an intention to fracture and bugger everybody up,' Hore said.

"We've got to be better at leading those people and working together for the greater good of the game.

"People still wanted autonomy to run the competitions week to week, and we need those volunteers to be there, we need them to have a feeling of empowerment and autonomy, that's not something to run away from but something to embrace.

"Our role is to make the volunteer the hero."

Hore said there would  be clear definitions for the board and three advisory councils of what their boundaries and responsibilities were, and it take up to 12 months to finalise all of the positions.

"There are challenges, getting the balance right but also providing the services our community rugby needs is an ongoing battle that any sporting administrator needs to get right," Hore said.

"And there has been a lot of criticism about whether rugby's got that balance right. I think the new model gives us the opportunity to have those debates and discussions without the two entities being separate."

While the Waratahs suffered a fall in memberships last year amid a diabolic season, they broke even after moving from their Moore Park base that was costing $800,000 a year in rent, to their new base in Daceyville.

"(Finances are) challenging, and it's reliant a lot on the Waratahs' success, they are the most significant investor into community rugby at around $1.16 million, that's why supporting them, things like the weather, making sure the competition structure is right, is really important," Hore said.

"We've got to be proactive and make it the best it can be."