The Penrith Emus could again be facing expulsion from the Shute Shield competition after an explosive document revealed plans for club rugby to essentially give up on Sydney’s west.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that representatives from seven clubs – Eastern Suburbs, Eastwood, Manly, Gordon, Northern Suburbs, Sydney University and Randwick – have been meeting separately to discuss ways to improve the standard of the Shute Shield and lower grades.
The Herald reports the seven clubs are pushing for all Shute Shield participants to have a minimum of four grade teams and three colts sides, plus a women’s XVs team by no later than 2023.
Clubs would also need to demonstrate annual revenue of more than $550,000, hire a head coach with the equivalent of World Rugby level three accreditation, while employing a general manager and match-day doctor.
A team like Penrith would be at long odds to meet those requirements and would essentially be forced out of the competition.
Emus President Gary McColl fears the seven clubs will force his side out.
“If seven clubs have got power and if they have come up with this draft participation agreement, well it’s designed to eliminate us,” he told the Herald.
“Surely they must see benefit out of the underdog getting some success rather than trying to develop elitism.”
McColl also took aim at rugby’s governing body.
“I’ve only been president for a couple of years but we haven’t received any assistance in any way shape or form from the NSW Rugby Union or Rugby Australia,” McColl told the Herald.
“We just want to have a club for aspirational players. Joseph Suaalii grew up at Glenmore Park and played for Penrith RSL juniors in rugby union before he went to The King’s School.”
The Emus returned to the Shute Shield last year after several seasons out of the competition. Earlier this year, they won their first Shute Shield match since 2014.