ORFU to focus on grassroots as part of renewed strategy – Otago Daily Times

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Sarah Middleton

Sarah Middleton

Otago rugby has added two more heavy hitters to its board but insists the major focus of the organisation remains its health at the grassroots.
Sarah Middleton and Roger Taylor are the new faces on the eight-strong board following the Otago Rugby Football Union’s annual meeting last week.
Middleton, who replaces Tony Pryde as the country delegate on a two-year term, is a long-serving member of the Otago Country community hailing from Lawrence.
She has been a committee member and treasurer at the Lawrence club for more than 15 years, and previously a member and treasurer of the Otago Country board.
Middleton has a 20-year career as a chartered accountant and is the chief financial officer for South Link Health.
Taylor, who fills the hole left last year by Jeffrey Broughton, is the president and joint treasurer of the Harbour club.
He first joined the Port Chalmers club in 1980 before it amalgamated with Ravensbourne in 1992 to form Harbour.
Taylor, appointed initially on a one-year term, is now retired after a 30-year career in the motor trade in both Dunedin and Northland, having been a former chief executive of Dunedin City Motors, a long-time major partner of Otago rugby.
“We had a renewal of our strategic direction last year, and we will be very focused on community rugby and the areas our community have told us they want us to focus on,” ORFU chairman Peter McCormack said yesterday.
“Both Sarah and Roger are very club-oriented or community rugby-oriented, and will really bring that to the board.
“Both have really good skills. We have been very lucky, in that respect, in terms of the quality of people applying for the board.”
Board members Craig Brown and deputy chairman Warren Moffat were each reappointed for three more years.
The other board members are Donna Harpur-Swain, Council of Rugby Clubs delegate Darryl MacKenzie, Amy Wilson-White and president Roy Daniels.
Otago reported a profit of nearly $1 million at the annual meeting, but that was effectively because that was exactly the size of the grant it received from New Zealand Rugby as part of the Silver Lake deal.
The union is sitting on the cash for now.
“I’m hoping, over the next period of time, that we get some indication of whether that is it, or whether there will be extra funds,” McCormack said.
“We’d hate to start some sort of initiative and then go, oh, this is really good but we can’t do it any more.”
Otago player numbers held relatively stable last year, but the word on the ground to start the new season is that many clubs are struggling for numbers.
McCormack has heard plenty of that talk, and noted some player movement between clubs.
“Part of the new strategy is club health and sustainability, and there are obviously drop-offs at a number of levels.
“That’s a big challenge, for us and for all sports.”
McCormack has completed his first year as chairman and has generally enjoyed it.
“It’s busy. I think it will take another year just to get my head around the politics — there is a bit that goes on.
“But I think New Zealand Rugby has got some really good people in there in grassroots rugby, and I’m totally optimistic about where we are heading.”


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