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Some of the positives from Rugby Union oganisations received by Rugby League Ireland. -----------------
Letter to RLI from Leeds Rugby Espousing the benefits of a Dual Code Club
28th January 2004 Dear Dave Leeds Rugby Limited was formed in July 1998 as the world?s first dual code partnership encompassing top class Rugby League and Rugby Union sides under the one roof. Two years previously a new board of directors led by our Chairman Paul Caddick acquired Headingley Stadium and it became obvious that for the business to become a viable ongoing concern we needed to raise the level of usage the Stadium was receiving. At that time the business was in some considerable debt and had not traded at a profit for twenty consecutive years. Obviously without the stadium being open to the public it was impossible for us to attract further income. Therefore we set about a programme of strengthening our position by buying back our catering and merchandise operations and formed Leeds Rugby Limited to provide 12 month rugby. We have also been able to combine several sections of our business to accommodate the dual partnership. Our corporate sales, ticket office, merchandising, media and accounts staff work on both clubs. A major area of development has been our Leeds Rugby Academy which is a joint training facility for both teams and a base for our successful youth academy. The academy oversees the development of over 200 young rugby league and union players who have the best coaching in either code available to them to develop their core rugby skills. I hope this has given you an insight into the success of our dual code partnership and should anyone require any further information on Leeds Rugby Limited, please do not hesitate to put them in touch with our Media and PR Manager Phil Daly at Headingley Stadium. Yours sincerely Gary Hetherington Chief Executive
Letter from Mr Chris O'Callaghan , Director of Rugby ,Abereavon Rugby Union - Wales
Re: Wales Rugby League Summer Conference
I refer to the above and write to you outlining the situation between Rugby League and Rugby Union, as it exists here in Wales. In the past, the Welsh Rugby Union has had no reason to love Rugby League. More than any other country; Wales over the last five generations, has lost many of its best players to Rugby League. Some of these were influential and often irreplaceable in the era in which they played. The building of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, its colossal debt and the staging of the Challenge Cup Final at the stadium by RFL, has certainly eased relations between the two codes. The situation was the same in Scotland when the Challenge Cup was taken there and will be the same in Dublin when Landowne RFC is re-developed and The Challenge Cup and Super League make their grand entrance there too. Money talks and it is the mutual ground of finance that has drawn the administrators of the two codes together in Wales. As Director of Rugby at Aberavon RFC and a Board Member of Wales Rugby League, as well as the assistant National Coach to the Welsh Rugby League team, I have a unique perspective on the whole situation as it affects us. I am paid on a full time basis by a Rugby Union Club but act ?pro bono? for Rugby League in Wales. The reason I do this is because I am a devotee to the 13man code, recognising as I do the qualities and ideas that it brings to Rugby Union. For years now Rugby Union has stolen ideas, strategies, players and coaches from Rugby League, where once they stole them from us. It is now fair to say that if Rugby League didn?t exist as a sport- then we in Rugby Union would have to invent it. Despite my empathy with Rugby League, even I could not get away with supporting Rugby League at my employer?s expense, if I did not make sense financially. We are a limited corporation here at Aberavon, with a core business which is the playing and selling of Rugby Union football. This business only exists for three quarters of a calendar year. Rugby League compliments this business perfectly and keeps the doors open for a full 12 months every year. There is now little conflict between the two codes as one is a Winter sport and the other a Summer one.
Aberavon RFC with its sister club Aberavon Green Stars RFC sponsored the foundation and the continuance of the Aberavon Fighting Irish RLFC. This entity has been both successful on the playing side, attracting players for both Aberavon RFC and The Green Stars, whilst financially, some of the games attracted crowds of over 1,000+ spectators, generating much needed income from bar and gate receipts. Furthermore, the youth development programme at The Fighting Irish attracted over 420 kids (and their parents) in the 8-18 age bracket, to one rugby league club. This is all the more remarkable because Welsh Rugby is very parochial and in a 10 mile radius around Aberavon RFC, there are over 30 different Rugby Union Clubs. Whereas few people would cross the road to play Rugby Union for a rival club(unless there were substantial money inducements involved), they came from miles to join a Rugby League club and played for free. The story is one which was repeated throughout the Welsh Conference.
I could go on extolling the virtues and pressing the financial reasons for a Rugby Union club to adopt summer Rugby League. I could tell you that since last June, just here at Aberavon, we hosted a Super League game (London Broncos v Widnes Vikings plus their Academy sides), a European Championship match (Wales v Russia), 2 U?16?s International games (English Schools and France) and are due to host another possible 9 age group International (U?16?s ? Students) before December 2004. In addition, we hope to host another Super league game in the summer and welcome Australia later on in the year. Each of these events is a revenue spinner during a time of the year, which otherwise has little or no commercial or economic activity.
If this letter or any of my experiences are of benefit to you, please use them as you feel best. Should any of your members wish to speak to me personally please feel free to invite them to contact me direct. There is no conflict between Union and League ? they are mutually compatible core businesses and possess a financial synergy which anyone would be hard pressed to replicate with two other sports.
Kindest Possible Regards,