An Update from WC Rugby - March 20

March 10, 2020

Rugby has been played at Wellington College since 1877. Wellington College competed in the first ever recorded secondary school rugby match against Nelson College and the 1st XV still compete in the oldest secondary school annual rugby tournament, the Quadrangular Tournament.

All of this makes Wellington College a very proud and traditional New Zealand rugby school. That pride and place in the fabric of Wellington College continues today with Wellington College Rugby aspiring to instill in our boys, a culture of success, belonging and growth, all the while connecting them with our past.

Recently this has become increasingly challenging. On-field and off-field performance (results and player numbers) have been variable but on the whole, below expectation. As a result a number of stakeholder groups have expressed their concern at the trajectory of Wellington College Rugby.

Members of the Board, the Senior Leadership Team and the Rugby Club have listened to the feedback. As parents, teachers and coaches themselves, they agree that the status quo is not acceptable, but what the future of Rugby at Wellington College best looks like, is equally unclear. To help achieve clarity on this, a Committee composed of members of the Board, Senior Leadership, Rugby management, parents and Old Boys was formed to investigate.

The first stage of this work commenced prior to Christmas with a call for parents to give their input. Interviews were carried out with a number of parents of past, present and future students to assess the current state of WC Rugby. These interviews, while certainly not unanimous, highlighted a number of key themes. In general, there is;

• Disquiet – Dissatisfaction and frustration with actions or decisions of others

• Under-performance – Players and teams not reaching their potential

• Disconnection – Members of the community feeling undervalued or unwanted

Alongside these stakeholder discussions, for the past four months a group of Wellington College representatives has been meeting with members of our wider rugby community and leaders of rugby programmes in high performing rugby schools across New Zealand. These meetings have yielded some surprising insights, highlighted some myths and some home truths - some of which can be addressed immediately, others will take longer to remedy.

The committee would like to update you on this work to date – the findings, some actions already in train and plans for this and the coming seasons. We are also keen to hear your thoughts and feedback and this is always best done in person. Accordingly, you are invited to join us for a “Wellington College Rugby Community Meeting” at 7.45am, Friday 20 March in Firth Hall

As a demonstration of our commitment to WC Rugby we have commenced the following initiatives:

Some structural changes have been made within the rugby club so that the 1st XV coaches’ sole responsibility within the club, will be to coach the team.  

We have identified the long-term central importance of a full-time Director of Rugby role.  We have started the process of raising funds for this with the aim of having this in place for 2021

In 2020, Reg Goodes will be joining the coaching team as a volunteer.  Other old boys who have played rugby at professional level have agreed to be involved with the club.

Former 1st XV captain and SAS Officer, Steve Guiney, has been appointed to the position of ‘Manager – Leadership & Culture’ for the 1st XV and is available to work with players and teams throughout the club.

Filo Tiatia (All Black 2000) has agreed to help when he can from his base in Auckland. Timings are being worked out.

I understand there is interest in the grading and development structures which we have in place at Wellington College. Please click here to view this year’s plan.

Please RSVP to the breakfast meeting, by 18 March 2020. Current and past players, parents, old boys, staff and anyone interested in the future of Wellington College Rugby is welcome to join us. You can register by clicking here.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Gregor Fountain (Principal)