President's Report Season 2011

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The 2011 year has been a very exciting one both on and off the pitch. It is a year where the hard work of 2010 was built on and developed further, taking the performance of your Club to new levels. We have raised the bar in a number of areas allowing the Club to continue to grow, develop and improve into the future.

The Club won the Premiership in the Premier Firsts, Third Grade and 2nd Division A Grade. For the Firsts, it was the third Dewar Shield victory in a row and the Club’s 17th. A result that has emulated the 1948, ’49 and ’50 seasons. It was the first win for the Club in the 2nd Division A Grade. The Thirds put together a winning streak that extended out over two years.

The Club won four Minor Premierships in the Premier Firsts, Seconds and Third Grades and in the 2nd Division A Grade. This success in the Seniors followed on from that of the 2010 season.

The Junior’s have also had a terrific year with twelve teams being fielded from under 5’s through to Under 16's: this number of teams being well up on the 2010 season.

The winning of the Cowper Shield for being the VRU Club Champions reflected what a terrific season 2011 was for the Club. We have over 600 active participants in the Club and the attainment of the Cowper Shield reflected the input of the whole Club. We can all be rightfully proud of this result.

The Club has won back to back Cowper Shields only once before and that was in 1949 and ’50.

The Club’s financial position improved dramatically from the gains made in 2010 with revenue up 26%, and the gross margin well up The Club finished the 2011 season in a strong financial position, having recorded a profit and with surplus funds in the bank. A new accounting system is in place, as well a new system for electronic payments. The significant work of our Treasurer and that of OHM Accountants has been well rewarded.

The success of the 2011 season for our senior group of players began back in February, when a touring party of 30 senior players from all grades, coaches and managers went to New Zealand and played games against Waiuku and College Rifles. This was a very significant rugby and cultural experience for all of the touring party. There were retention and recruitment policies put in place that enabled the Club to maintain its playing depth across all grades. We managed the integration of our new recruits very well indeed and this will continue to be a significant requirement for us into the future, as Victorian Rugby continues to quickly develop now that professional rugby in the Rebels is finally here.

Significant strategies were put in place to support the senior group and in particular the First Grade teams. Under the leadership of the Director of Coaching, Mitch Canning, some new initiatives were implemented. Jason Jones, a well respected coach who has coached overseas and interstate, was appointed Senior Coach. A strength and conditioning coach, Shane May was also appointed. Supporting the senior coaches and players was Greg Layton as the Sports Psychologist. The medical group, led by Peter Roberts, also grew as they responded to the increase in player numbers.

All the senior coaches, across all grades, have had an exceptional year. The results are a reflection of the commitment, passion and dedication that they all possess. They have all been ably assisted by a group of team managers that quietly go about the work of helping to support the players and coaches.

The Club was well represented by a significant number of players in the State Team and the Rebel Rising groups. Congratulations to them as they strive very hard to play senior rugby at the highest level possible.

For the Junior Sub-committee, managing the significant growth in player numbers has had its logistical challenges. However, twelve teams played every week and were supported by coaches, managers and parents.

A special thanks go to everyone in the junior group for the stewardship of fostering the rugby experience for the junior players. Under the guidance of the Junior Co-ordinator and the Junior Sub-committee, the growth and development of the junior group and the junior competition is well positioned.

I would like to thank the Officers and Staff of the City of Stonnington for their co-operation and assistance throughout the year. We have a very good relationship with the Council. They have invested over $500,000 over two years into improving the surface of firstly Romanis Reserve in 2010, and currently Orrong Park in 2011. This now means that together with the Toorak Prahran Cricket Club (TPCC), the local schools and residents, we have first class surfaces to use. This is a significant investment by the council and I thank them for this on behalf of the Club. The Council are currently assisting the Club and TPCC as to how to use a State Government grant of $90,000 to further develop the ground facilities.

To our sponsorship partners, many thanks for your continued support. Your involvement in 2011 has led to some marked improvement in the development of the Club. The utmost benefit was the purchase of the Club bus. The bus was used every week across all grades. It enabled the players to go to Ballarat, Geelong, Warrnambool and other Clubs. It provided great visibility for the Unicorn brand and our partners. New playing equipment was also purchased. Our sponsors have been many and varied and we will, as a Club, work hard to make their alignment a more beneficial reward.

As a Club, we have set out to be more inclusive of our player’s wives, girlfriends and lady members. Their input and involvement is very highly valued as we build a more family environment. The ladies lunch attracted 65 people who listened attentively to Alicia Molik. I wish to give a special thanks to Colin Woolhouse and Katrina Simpson for their keen commitment in the Club house and behind the bar. We tend to take for granted this facility and when it runs very smoothly and delivers that memorable and inviting Club house experience, it is due to the input of Colin, Katrina and the bar staff.

All facets of the Club activities have been managed by a hard working committee. Their input and contribution is well recognised and I thank them all for their energy, commitment and passion for the Club.

Looking ahead for the Club, our continuing strength will come through the building and development of strategic alliances. This is no more obvious than having a good and meaningful relationship with the VRU and the Melbourne Rebels as we all play our role in the direction of building rugby in Victoria. The challenge for the Club into the future is to Sustain, Improve and Replicate (S.I.R.) our on and off field performances.

Plans are in place for recruitment and retention and an U23 Academy has been established to bring our young players through the grades.

We are well placed to undertake S.I.R. in 2012 and I ask you all to play your role and come along for the ride.

It has been an honour to be your President. John Rosenhain President