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2014-12-31: Chairman's End Of Year Report 2014

 
 

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"As this amazing year of 2014 draws to a close, I wanted to take time to thank everyone for all of their hard work, recognise some of the amazing achievements and also look forward to some of the things to come in 2015. 2014 was an amazing year all around for IGR as an organisation, as well as our member clubs. While there were many different achievements across the globe, I wanted to call out a few really significant things this from this year.

Bingham Cup 2014

First of all, I want to call out Bingham Cup 2014, extremely well organised and hosted by the Sydney Convicts. Over the last weekend in August, IGR teams descended on Sydney for a week of fun, frivolity, rugby and a hell of a lot of rain. On the pitch, we saw some huge improvement in the level of rugby played on the pitch – including some highly competitive semi-final matches in all levels of the tournament. The event on the pitch involved quite a few combined teams, showing that the spirit of rugby can bring people together to be competitive on the pitch – even with minimal time together.

Off the pitch, this tournament can be marked by the high level of community involvement, corporate level sponsorship from Commonwealth Bank and EY, and the international media presence – increasing the level of visibility of what our member clubs, players and supporters do for our mission. We were honoured by visits from the Governor-General of Australia, the Governor of New South Wales, the Irish and US Ambassadors to Australia and other community and business leaders to the tournament.

Also, from the worldwide Rugby community, we continue to have ground breaking partnership with the Australia Rugby Union’s Mike Hawker, Chairman and Bill Pulver, CEO. Their work with Fuzz and our partnership led to the first combined multi-sport Anti-Homophobia framework in Australia and the first letter of support from Brett Gosper, CEO of the International Rugby Board (now, World Rugby) for the Bingham Cup. This partnership and recognition from World Rugby is something that we can continue to build on in the future.

I want to specially recognise Fuzz Purchas, Duncan MacGregor and Chris Mowbray of the Sydney Convicts for their dedication, organisation and ability to create a great experience for everyone who attended. I am extremely proud of the event and cannot thank them enough for their work and commitment.

The results were as follows:
Bingham Cup – Sydney Convicts A
Bingham Plate – Melbourne Chargers A
Bingham Bowl – New Zealand Falcons
Bingham Shield – Sydney Convicts C
Hoagland Cup – Philadelphia Gryphons
Hoagland Vase – Southern US BaaBaas
StandUp Foundation Team of the Tournament – Amsterdam Lowlanders
Player of the Tournament – Jeffrey Sione, New Zealand Falcons.

Regional Tournaments and League play

Our regional tournament calendar continues to grow with a significant addition this year to the docket. These events allow for members of our community to get together for competition on a more regular basis – while focusing on skills development. The Berlin Bruisers Bash About included a two day clinic and tournament, attended by 200 rugby players from throughout Europe along with our very own Gareth Thomas. Special thanks to Adam Wide and his team for putting on a world class event very shortly after their organisation in 2012. There was also the return of the Cardiff 7’s tournament and the Les Gaillards 10th Anniversary tournament in Paris. Organisationally, we look forward to 2015’s Union Cup in Brussels, Magnitude 15.15s in Seattle, Combustion in Chicago, Purchas Cup in New Zealand, the Stockholm Eurogames and the other annual tournaments and clinics.

Also, the Washington Renegades were the first IGR club to make the USA Rugby Division 3 National Championships, having won the Mid Atlantic Conference Division III Championship. We are very proud of the achievements of the Renegades and look forward to what they can continue to achieve in the future.

Organisation and Bingham Cup 2016 Bidding

This was a pretty big year for IGR as an organisation. Including the beginning of the rebrand from IGRAB to IGR, we also collaborated well to achieve a much better foundation to achieve more in the future. Our membership increased to 52 clubs, including the addition of teams in New Zealand, Argentina and Spain and the growth of our existing clubs in their local areas and markets. This is a very exciting time with membership and the potential expansion of our mission throughout the globe.

Some of the unsung heroes of the organisation are the Regional Representatives, who in their capacity assist the development of IGR clubs and participate in the operations of rugby tournaments and events throughout the globe – including the Tournament Liaison Committee for Bingham Cup 2014. I want to thank Matthew Whiteley, Gus Ventura, Remo Calzoni, Jeremy Dykes, Kory Salisbury, William Howell, Iggy Samuel-Smith, Ben Lancken and Gregory Hanson for all of their hard work in providing support to new and existing IGR Clubs.

The organisation also came together for the creation of the Bid Requirements and Process for Bingham Cup 2016. The work that the Bid Requirements Committee and the potential hosting clubs led to the most transparent, competitive and thorough Bingham Cup bid process in history. The final bids submitted by the Chicago Dragons and the Nashville Grizzlies were complete, professional, and well supported by members of their communities. I am very proud of all of the people who worked tirelessly to achieve great results out of those bids, including 100% participation from all of the member clubs in the voting. Special thanks to Craig Sklenar of the Chicago Dragons and Jon Glassmeyer of the Nashville Grizzlies for their professionalism and organisation. You have definitely raised the bar for any future clubs.

We also have made some significant decisions regarding tournament cycle, tournament levy, constitutional changes, charitable status and potential charity partners in the future. The teamwork and collaboration of all of the trustees has led to a functional organisation which is executing on our agreed agenda from this past AGM. Thanks to Nick Limerick for his outgoing work on the Trustees and welcome to Duane Ward to our band of brothers, working towards our goals for the future around all things treasury and fundraising.

Social Media

Finally, but absolutely not least, this year has been led by a social media explosion – led by Neil Pyper. His tireless commitment to supporting our organisation and all of the Gay and Inclusive Rugby clubs in the world has led to a complete rebirth in how we collaborate, share information and communicate with internal and external stakeholders. He has personally led the charge in our new web presence at igrab.net, and our new and significant Facebook and Twitter presence. We have a bright organisational future in regards to communication. In conjunction with the work that Neil does with GayRugbyClubs.com, IGR can achieve new and exciting things related to cross club communication of best practices around all club areas. His support and work is unending and the whole organisation cannot thank him enough.

In Closing

2014 was a fantastic year with many great achievements. 2015 promises to be a fantastic year as we continue the work we have committed at the AGM. Our work that we do to end homophobia in sport through partnership with internal and external stakeholders is essential to our communities and our members. We are making a difference both at the grass roots level as well as at the executive level of the national and international Rugby organisations. I am so proud of the work that we do and the impact that we have on each and every person that we touch with our mission. Each and every one of you is a part of something special and unique which are changing things for gay athletes, supporters and newcomers to the sport everywhere.

Thank you again for all that you do and I look forward to 2015 with great pleasure and anticipation.

Happy New Year, gelukkig nieuwjaar, Bonne Année, feliz año Nuevo, feliz ano novo, buon anno, ath bhliain faoi mhaise; blwyddyn newydd dda, bliadhna mhath ur and prosit Neujahr.

With you,

Jeff Wilson
Chairman I International Gay Rugby

 

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