Once upon a time (in 2013) the ACT Rugby Union Club (RUC) had outgrown its digs and the Canberra North Bowling Club, while flush with space, needed to generate new income streams.
It was a match made in heaven and RUC secretary manager Jeremy Wilcox was part of the team that made the merger happen.
“It’s been a happy marriage,” he laughs.
Both clubs were formed in 1958, but found alignment in their overarching goals. Both were founded in the belief that sports clubs, regardless of the sport they supported, were effective vehicles for the health and happiness of their communities.
Their joint constitution reflects this, with a mission to support and promote lawn bowls, rugby union and other sports in the ACT. For this, last year the joint venture took the Community Development and Wellbeing Award at the ClubsACT Clubs & Community Awards.
“That’s about linking community wellbeing and development to sports and we think that participation in any sort of sport, but particularly amateur sports, promotes exactly that,” Jeremy says.
“Our board is keen on getting people involved in sport at every level. All our efforts go towards that, and we’re seeing results.”
Last year the clubs invested significant capital towards participation in rugby union in the Territory and surrounds, supporting four programs in the ACT and southern NSW.
That included an indigenous participation program, pathways programs for amateur rugby players, coaching development and support for developing rugby tournaments in Canberra.
Their Matt Giteau Cup, which focused on primary school-aged players, attracted 50 teams and 750 participants.
On the lawn bowls front, 15,000 last year tried barefoot bowling at the club.
“That’s a huge success in terms of numbers, but also in terms of fulfilling our goal to get people out and about. Anything that gets people off their devices and outside participating in sports is a great thing,” Jeremy says.
“It wasn’t only traditional bowls members, but a diverse crossover of groups from the community – kids, school groups, friends, university students…
“It gets really competitive, too – you can get right into it.”
Clubs of the ACT support more than 1000 community groups. The ClubsACT Clubs & Community Awards are designed to bring to light some of their stories and recognise the outstanding social contributions they make in their local communities.
Jeremy says winning the award has been wonderful recognition for these efforts, and one the club was not expecting.
“We’re a fairly small club so often I think we don’t have much chance in awards, but not this one,” he says.
“When you’re genuinely doing something for the community as a community club, you’re well in the running with the ClubsACT Clubs & Community Awards.”
Submissions close soon for the 2023 awards and clubs are invited to submit stories and initiatives that demonstrate their support of any of the core value categories.
These comprise Arts & Culture; Hospitality Innovation; Celebrating Diversity & Social Inclusion; Education; Learning & Development; Contribution to Sport; Community Development & Wellbeing; Sustainability & Environment; Emerging Talent (Employee of the Year); Individual Service to the Industry; and the coveted Heart of the Community award.
Entries are reviewed by a panel of judges and assessed based on their innovation, collaboration and community impact. Three finalists and one winner will be named in each category.
Story submissions for the 2023 ClubsACT Clubs & Community Awards close at 11:59 pm on 25 August. For more information including the criteria and entry instructions, visit the ClubsACT Clubs & Community Awards.