A change to The Barossa Council’s Big Project has forced the Barossa Rams Rugby Club to call for support as they face uncertainty as to where their future ground will be.
Club president, Dr Fraser Vivian is encouraging positive communication with Council on rugby in the Barossa with recent weeks bringing an unexpected twist to the future of Barossa rugby.
According to Dr Vivian, up until a few weeks ago the club was unaware of any changes to the initial plan which would be the move from the Southern Barossa area for rugby to be relocated to a new purpose built facility in Tanunda.
He said they were caught “completely unaware” when the club was recently informed that the upgrade to the Lyndoch Oval was to be prioritised for AFL and cricket and leaving them without a long-term home beyond 2021.
The offer from Council to allow rugby to continue at land adjacent the Rex still remains on the table, according to Dr Vivian but the infrastructure that would come with a relocation, beyond a pitch and carpark is not part of the immediate plan.
“Unfortunately grant funding for a Tanunda facility was not forthcoming and that as such, unless we could find some funding to the tune of $1.4 million then the Council was not in a position to do any more than build a pitch but no facility such as clubrooms nor changerooms,” said Dr Vivian.
He said it was an unacceptable situation and the club has been told they could move to Williamstown in the interim until funding could be forthcoming.
“This is a completely unknown period of time at a facility which is inferior to our current digs and an oval which has historically suffered poorly in winter,” said Dr Vivian.
Dr Vivian said the club has been encouraged since Council included them in the Big Project plans say they never dreamt of a new pitch before the initial discussions took place.
“To announce something and then it feels bad when you put it on the backburner… we now feel Council need to work with us closely to come up with a compromise,” said Dr Vivian.
He understands sporting codes across the region aren’t getting all of what they asked for and that additional funding and grant funding will influence how the projects roll out but he feels rugby has been “suffered more than others”.
Barossa Rams Rugby Club continues to grow, particularly in the junior ranks, and this season had 65 senior players and more than 100 juniors.
“The ideal site for us is in Tanunda… it’s central Barossa and it’s high visibility next to the Rex and the two schools,” said Dr Vivian.
“And people love coming to the Barossa, all the teams we play against bring extra dollars to the Barossa.”
Despite the unexpected twist, Dr Vivian remains positive a suitable location will be found.
“I am positive we will get the outcome, it’s just a matter of the timing,” said Dr Vivian.
“We are working against the fear that if we move to Williamstown that we don’t get shifted there and left behind.”
Dr Vivian said rugby has a playing position for all body types and as such is a very inclusive sport for those who may not fit the traditional AFL mould.
According to The Barossa Council’s director of corporate and community services, Ms Joanne Thomas Council remain committed to rugby and understand the growth in participation that the club is experiencing.
They have allocated $1.516 million in the current round of priorities to fund the sports field and associated infrastructure at Tanunda.
“Council will continue to work alongside the club to explore alternative funding options and sources including in-kind and cash contributions, sponsorship, peak body involvement or public-private partnerships to fund the gaps identified for the clubrooms and change rooms,” said Ms Thomas.
“The club has a strong tradition of working collaboratively with Council and we are sure that will continue.”
Ms Thomas reinforced there is no fundamental change to the original masterplan for rugby at Tanunda; all elements remain in the masterplan.
“The prioritisation of projects ensures as a Council we remain financially sustainable, and we continue to seek funding and support from government and third parties in an effort to accelerate project implementation,” said Ms Thomas.
“Council officers will continue to meet with the club committee to work through the potential options and the Club President will also come to address Elected Members and look at the opportunities shortly.”