22/02/2005 - 21:00

Rugby team applies lessons learned

22/02/2005 - 21:00

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Australian sport is littered with expansionary clubs and sports ventures that failed to capture the public imagination, let alone that of potential corporate sponsors.

Australian sport is littered with expansionary clubs and sports ventures that failed to capture the public imagination, let alone that of potential corporate sponsors.

Recent examples in Western Australia include Perth rugby league team the Western Reds, which enjoyed some early support but lost all relevance as it became embroiled in the Super League ‘civil war’ that almost decimated the sport in the mid 1990s.

But while it is important to learn from previous misjudgements, there are plenty of examples of how to do things right, according to WA Rugby Union chairman Geoff Stooke, a major player behind Perth’s successful bid for the new Australian Super 14 franchise.

“We had a wealth of information because there was plenty of skeletons around, but there was also good examples of how to do things right,” Mr Stooke said.

He said lessons had been taken from the Reds’ experience, while the hugely successful Brisbane Lions’ model was used in a presentation to the ARU by the WARU.

Mr Stooke established a powerful working group to monitor and conduct research two years ago when the ARU indicated it wanted to expand the competition.

The group included names such as Alinta Gas chairman Tony Howarth, EventsCorp events development director Mike Rees, Woodside’s Gary Gray, Department of Premier and Cabinet executive director policy David Hatt, Grant Thornton (Perth) chairman Geoff Kidd, and Department of Sport and Recreation acting director general Ronnie Hurst.

Importantly, Mr Stooke said, the group had done the preliminary work. He said the bid’s success depended on two key factors.

Firstly the working group convinced itself its proposal was financially viable.

“When we finally got all [the] information together … we eventually determined that this thing was actually viable in a big way,” he said

Secondly, Mr Stooke said, the group remained positive.

“We at no stage criticised Victoria [the VRU was another strong contender] and remained totally focused on what we could deliver against the criteria provided by the ARU.”

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