For a game that prides itself on camaraderie and inclusiveness – it’s not too long along that it was hard to find either of these things across the ranks of Australian rugby.
A quick stroll around rugby world and you would see disagreements between clubs and states, the professional and amateur games, states and Rugby AU, coaches and CEO’s, city v country and ‘rugby schools’ v non ‘rugby schools’, past players and current administration. The game seemed at war with itself, a Jekyll and Hyde show oscillating between a top down professional driven model, and a grassroots up game as it had always been.
We’d become just rugby…no union!
And then Covid hit, and the game had a catharsis moment as crises often create. For both the amateur and professional game – it just became about ‘getting back on the park’, getting back to your club, your mates and the sense of belonging that rugby provides, the part of the game we didn’t value enough until it was gone. We realised we had to bind together to survive, and by the game binding together again we realised what it was that rugby had lost…the union!
A Day In Union was born out of these times, a few rugby tragics conversing in secret under the blue lit glow of their zoom calls in Covid lockdowns, half of them in Melbourne which meant they had a bit more time than the rest of us to ponder these things in isolation.
Worried about the game, worried about our clubs and whether they’d survive, worried about the young men and women players, volunteers and fans. The more we spoke and the more we shared stories from our varied rugby lives, the more we realised that it was rugby’s ability to bring people together that made it special. From the bush to the beach, men and women, all shapes and sizes, young and old.
The game where you can pack a pair of boots in your bag and find a club and a family anywhere in the world. The game where you can attend the World Cup and be more likely to end up arm in arm singing songs with your opponent rather than dodging flares or running from riot police.
We soon realised that it didn’t matter how our professional teams were doing, we still loved the game and there was a chance other people did too, we just had to remind them of why we all fell in love with the game in the first place.
And so it was that A Day In Union was formed, a simple vision to bind all rugby people together to celebrate why we love this game.
To bind people together in shared values, friendship and fun. To bind all levels of the games together, across all ages, all states. To include the new, the old, those that can play, those that never could play but tell everyone that they could. The fans, the volunteers, the mums and dads. The Scottish, Irish, Kiwis, Kenyans and over 120 other countries that play Rugby Union.
Other sports have their focal day, the AFL or League Grand Final where the whole country stops for one game. Us, we scatter like a World Cup tour bus in the pubs of Cardiff – splitting off to Sevens, 15s, club rugby, Super Rugby, July Tests, spring tours.
So – on Saturday March 25th, and henceforth for one day each year, let’s bind together for A Day In Union. Let’s share images and stories, crystal clear or somewhat blurry memories about our great game and remind each other why it is we love rugby.
On the weekend of Saturday March 25th, share a favourite rugby moment on your social media channel with the hashtag #ADayInUnion and follow the tag to join in the celebrations of everything we love about rugby.