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Phil Waugh appointed as Inaugural Sydney Junior Rugby Union Ambassador

Rugby great Phil Waugh has been appointed as the inaugural Ambassador of Sydney Junior Rugby Union, Australia’s largest union and the governing body for Junior Club Rugby across Sydney. In this newly created role, Phil will bring his strong commitment to Junior Club Rugby and deep sporting community connections to help Sydney Juniors grow the game of rugby union from the grassroots.

Phil achieved the highest levels of professional Rugby with a stellar career capped off leading both the NSW Waratahs and the Australian Wallabies as Captain. He played 124 matches in Super Rugby for the NSW Waratahs, and in 79 Test matches for the Wallabies usually playing at openside flanker. Phil is currently head coach of the touring Mosman Junior Rugby Club U12s and continues to be involved at all levels of the game.

Ultimately, the success of elite Rugby is underpinned by a thriving grassroots junior rugby community and Phil will play a key role in fostering the growth and development of a vibrant junior club culture in Sydney.

“Rugby Union is a sport I have played and enjoyed since my junior years at Narrabeen, my school years at Shore and through the pathway to the Waratahs and then the Wallabies. Since retiring in 2012, I still have a strong passion for the game and for the future of the sport, beginning at the very grassroots. We have a continued strong junior base with 12,500 juniors registered with the SJRU alone, across the 60 clubs, and despite what may be perceived, junior club rugby in Sydney remains strong. Where I can, I will support the growth of the game, from the important grassroots players to enhance a thriving competition and future for rugby in this state and in this country”.

“Sydney Juniors is focused on growing the game of rugby from the grassroots,” said Katrina Oxenham, newly elected Chair of the Sydney Junior Rugby Union. “We are honoured that Phil has agreed to be the inaugural Sydney Juniors Ambassador. Like so many of the rugby union greats, Phil has continued to contribute behind the scenes in the Junior Rugby community. By accepting this new role, Phil will use his considerable leadership skills to strengthen the connection from the grassroots through to the elite levels of Rugby Union by highlighting the strength and value of our strong junior player base”

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Owen Finegan appointed as Director of Partnerships on SJRU Board

Phil joins another former Wallaby, Waratah and Brumbies player Owen Finegan who was appointed to the SJRU Board in 2017 and hopes to help strengthen partnerships with stakeholders and corporates who are passionate about Rugby and grassroots. Katrina Oxenham says, “I knew Owen was involved in rugby in the Randwick area and that he has much to contribute to Sydney Juniors. I am so pleased he agreed to join the Board and that he is prepared to be actively involved, offering valued insights and input into the game of rugby”. Owen played 93 Super Rugby matches at the Brumbies as flanker or lock and 56 test matches at the Wallabies before injury stopped his playing career. Oxenham adds, “although he is a staunch Brumbies player and supporter, and we sometimes lock him out of the NSWRU headquarters where we host our board meetings, we do really welcome him with open arms, he is one of the original tough men of the sport and has proven he can score tries when it matters”.

Owen, known as ‘Melon’ during his playing days maintains a strong connection to the grassroots, coaching all levels of club rugby from his children’s village club team the Coogee Seahorses right through to first grade rugby at Randwick. This passion and life-time commitment to the game is the example Sydney Juniors is fostering in the young players and families who play junior club rugby.

Sydney Junior Rugby Union is responsible for junior club rugby at 60 clubs with almost 13,000 fifteen-a-side players aged from under 5 to through to 18. While forged in the passionate traditions and values of the game, Sydney Juniors is continuously innovating to match the changing sporting landscape, focusing on increased girls’ participation in rugby launching an exciting new Rugby 7s competition, while maintaining the core focus on fifteen-a-side rugby. Oxenham says the Sydney Junior Rugby Union has a clear Strategic Plan and its simple focus is to Grow the Game from the Grassroots.