How new Emus boss is plotting a rugby revival in Penrith

New Penrith Emus President, Adam Fletcher. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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It’s been long regarded as the toughest gig in local sport – President of the Penrith Emus.

But one passionate man with strong ties to local rugby and a deep love for the game is determined to not only return the Emus to the paddock next year, but make sure they stay for good.

At a recent AGM earlier this month, the Penrith Emus announced their 2024 Board of Directors with former Penrith RSL Junior Rugby Union boss Adam Fletcher taking over Gary McColl as the new President.

Along with Fletcher, six other men – Ian Joliffe, Tim Cahalane, Warren Walsh, Kevin Carlin, Ray McDonald and Mark Cannon – will be tasked with getting the battling rugby club back on its feet.

After two years playing in the ACT Brumbies feeder competition the John I Dent Cup, the Emus were without a place to play this season after they were essentially booted out by the ACT & Southern NSW Rugby Union due to on-field performance and logistical issues.

Adam Fletcher chats with Nathan Taylor. Photo: Melinda Jane.

It marked the third time since 2018 that the Emus had been dumped from a premier rugby competition. But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Penrith Emus are determined to get things right once and for all under Fletcher and his new Board.

“We wanted some trusted names on the Board,” Fletcher told the Weekender.

“We hope people will see those names at NSW Rugby and Rugby Australia and they’ll have some faith in what we are trying to achieve here at Penrith.”

While the club is only at the beginning stages of returning to prominence, they have started to map out a plan of getting back on the field and playing again.

Their most likely return to the game will come via Suburban Rugby or Subbies as it’s affectionately known.

“As part of the rebuild, we have to identify if we want to come back to premier rugby – if we have the support for it – or whether we just be like Blue Mountains and we’re a gateway to introduce rugby to people and we celebrate the fact they go elsewhere,” Fletcher said.

Penrith’s first grade team in action in 2022. Photo: Jayzie Photography.

“It’s all going to depend on what the community and governing bodies do in the next couple of years, but for 2025 we’ll go to Subbies.”

And it’s good news for those diehard and long suffering supporters of the Emus, under Fletcher and the current Board, the club have no plans to rebrand or relocate away from Nepean Rugby Park.

“A lot of people think we should rebrand or take the opportunity to move, but I have a little bit of knowledge in regard to what happened at the Two Blues when they dropped ‘Parramatta’ and for now, that’s a bigger battle that we don’t need,” Fletcher said.

“We need to get everyone back that has an affinity with the place.

“To change names or do something drastic is not what we want.”

The Penrith Emus no longer play in the Shute Shield. Photo: Stewart Hazell.

To help build the community’s confidence and trust in the club again, the Emus are starting small by cleaning up their social media presence, updating their website, and unveiling a new Club Shop.

It’s a long road and one that many good people have hopped off over the years due to the array of challenges it presents, but Fletcher is determined to see it through.

“We want to be a community hub and a club that people want to come to, but we need to win the community over and I think we’re in a good position to do that,” Fletcher said.

“We’d love to hear from locals who may be able to help us. I really want to see Nepean Rugby Park full of spectators again when we do eventually return.

“If the community wants a rugby club, then we need to have that support.”

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Weekender's Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.

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