Player retention top of wishlist for Ipswich club champions
IPSWICH Rangers officials, coaches, players and supporters have an extra reason to enjoy their Christmas break as the champion Queensland Suburban Rugby Union (QSRU) senior club this year.
Rangers were awarded the QRSU Sydney Cup for having a premiership-winning team, a runners-up women's combination and a fourth-place finish.
It was the first time since the early 1990s Rangers had secured that champion club honour.
"That's a big achievement for us,'' club president Rohan McPhail said.
Despite the COVID challenges, Rangers also had a boost in player numbers and celebrated three junior teams winning their grand finals.
McPhail appreciates the contribution of everyone who helped Rangers recover from a fragile pre-season position to finish the year so strongly.
"I'm probably more proud of the club, the fact the way that the members supported us,'' he said. "The way the club was able to come together and still run a successful year.''
However, having kept two outstanding coaches, top of his 2021 wishlist is player retention.
"You can tick the box to say you had a great year when your player retention is at 110 per cent,'' McPhail said.
"Unless we get everyone back, it will be a one-hit wonder.
"Early indications are that we are going to have a high retention rate and hopefully we keep a couple of elite players as well and talented players at junior and senior level.''
Rangers had around 340 members this year.
McPhail is focused on getting the kids back. He said having a positive growth in rugby players in the Ipswich corridor is "probably the best we can hope for''.
"If you've get the numbers, success will come,'' he said.
That was the case this season.
The Rangers Normanby Cup team completed its remarkable unbeaten campaign with a 32-3 grand final victory over Logan.
McPhail is keen to welcome back the players and coaching staff who served the club so professionally this year.
The Rangers women side went from strength to strength under new coach Niccy Muller to make the grand final at Ballymore.
Although the women were beaten 21-0 by premiers Redlands, Muller turned a group of dedicated players with mixed skills into a winning combination.
After saying she had "unfinished business'' following that defeat, the Queensland and National Indigenous Sevens coach is keen to return in 2021 and take the side one step further.
"At the moment, she's indicated she's coming back, which would be great because she is a big drawcard for the Ipswich girls to play,'' McPhail said.
The club president was also delighted Rangers Barber Cup coach Paul Faapo expressed a keenness to continue with the club.
Like Muller, Clubman of the Year Faapo developed a promising side for the future, achieving some positive results this year.
"He had a really, really good year and he's working on his coaching in the off-season,'' McPhail said.
"He's done a couple of courses. He's very eager to learn.''
The senior Rangers teams were waving the flag for the club in finals just days after three junior sides won their grand finals.
The wonderful trifecta of junior success came in the Division 1 Brisbane Junior Rugby Union competition.
The Rangers under-12 side completed an unbeaten season with a 24-5 victory over Souths.
After just one defeat during the season, the Rangers under 13s beat Sunnybank 28-18 in their grand final.
The Rangers under-14 combination also downed Sunnybank - 29-8 in their title decider.
With that solid base, McPhail said Rangers had planned a junior sign-on at the Woodend Park grounds on January 29.
He said the club was hoping to attract 20 teams from under-6 to under-18 next season.
Rangers senior team training is scheduled to return in mid-January.
McPhail hopes Rangers can field a Pegg Cup side next season in addition to having a strong presence in the Barber Cup, Normanby Cup and women's competitions.
He said the club was looking to reduce fees to attract more people to rugby.
"For me, it's all about building our member base and giving back to rugby and the community,'' he said.
Continuing as club president next year, McPhail said Rangers had two important community grants to bolster 2021.
The first is a $40,000 community grant - $30,000 from the state government and $10,000 from Ipswich City Council - to be spent on capital equipment and club resources.
A second $7500 contribution was set aside to host a Defence Cup Sevens carnival this year.
That was postponed in February with the defence force, police and other essential services staff busy with bushfires and COVID.
The club plans to run the tournament around a similar time next year - before the premier season starts.
"We hope to make it an annual event,'' McPhail said.
The Defence Cup will be open to any team wanting to play for a share of the prizemoney.