Education, U/20's, Online & more all covered at CEO's conference

Ben Creagh becomes the face of Dragons - University of Wollongong Partnership

The NRL Club Chief Executives have today been handed their annual report cards on Rugby League player education showing that 84% of NRL players have now achieved some form of post-secondary qualification during their time in the game.

Fifteen percent have enrolled in University degree courses, almost double the number five years ago, as the NRL and RLPA continue to fund individual education grants and group courses across the clubs.

Today’s Chief Executives meeting reaffirmed a game-wide commitment to the education and welfare programmes administered by the NRL and RLPA.

“There is strong evidence to support the fact that players who are involved in off-field development  programmes are more likely to achieve better results both on and off the field,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said.

Welfare and Education Officer, Mr Nigel Vagana, highlighted the fact that study and on-field success can go hand in hand with a review of the make-up of last year’s World Cup Final.

“Of the 48 players in the last World Cup final, 41 had been involved in some form of education or employment,” he said.

“The players themselves are becoming aware of the opportunities that are there to support them and they are looking for ways to get involved.”

The NRL has outlined a number of recommendations to further strengthen its education programmes in 2010, including the setting of minimum education qualifications for players by the time they reach 21 as an NRL registration requirement.

Importantly, the Toyota Cup, the key pathway to the NRL, has more than 98% of players involved in education or employment programmes.

On field, the Toyota Cup has elevated 44 players to first grade so far in 2009 (43 in 2008) with an increase in the number  of  forwards  who are emerging from the competition (22 in 2009, 14 in 2008).

The CEOs have today reaffirmed the strategic importance of the competition in the development of professional athletes and have retained the Under 20 age limit.

They have again highlighted the importance of work that is already underway at club and NSWRL level to significantly strengthen the NSW Cup competition in 2009.

“Already there have been some key decisions taken in terms of preventing dual registration in both the NSW and Queensland Cups and there has been some significant work in building a new competition structure to engage all NSW clubs,” NSWRL General Manager, Mr Geoff Carr, said.

“It is an issue the game has actually been working on for some time and one the clubs agree has to be supported.”

There was a strong commitment from the clubs to support a new Community Carnival format in 2010 which will again assist the game in regional and metropolitan areas by supporting positive community messages.

All 16 clubs today committed to making their full squads available over three days in February next year, making it the biggest Community Carnival held to date.

“The Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well message in regional communities had a huge impact on people in 2009,” NRL Director of Community Relations, Mrs Trish Crews, said.

“The commitment from the clubs today gives us a great platform to help make a real difference to people’s lives and it underlines the sort of effort that I see the players making in the One Community area on a regular basis.”

A review of the NRL’s online club network has shown that in the space of only six months it has attracted an average 450,000 individual users each month.

More than 1.1million video streams have been downloaded in the first half of the year, helping make the NRL.com network the third highest ranking sports website in the country.

“The club network has been an important asset for the game and one that has delivered real benefits to fans,” Mr Gallop said.

“It will continue to play an important role in the way fans interact with the game and increasingly it is providing a key platform for advertisers and sponsors.”