31.03.2008 – Graham Croker

The former chief executive officer of Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness, Greg Harris, has been appointed CEO of RugbyWA, which controls the Western Force team in the Super 14 rugby union competition.

Mr Harris will call on his experience of controlling almost 40 sports under the SUSF umbrella, to running and promoting rugby in Western Australia. He replaces Peter O’Meara, who quit the post last year, and acting chief executive Mitch Hardy.

RugbyWA Chairman, Geoff Stooke, welcomed Greg’s appointment as RugbyWA CEO.

“RugbyWA is delighted that a person of Greg’s experience and background in sport and business has accepted the role,” Mr Stooke said.

“We see him as having the necessary skills and abilities to help take our organisation to its next stage of development and growth.”

After a 16-year association with Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness, Mr. Harris said he was excited to be joining a rapidly progressing organisation.

“The RugbyWA CEO role was an exciting opportunity for me to build on a fantastic platform already established at RugbyWA,” Mr. Harris said.

“I hope to add significant value to the organisation in its future development. What’s really excited me is the manner in which RugbyWA has embraced the development of the game in Western Australia. It is aware of its responsibilities in the development of the sport and is not solely focused on the pointy end of the business with the Emirates Western Force.”

Mr Harris said one of his first priorities when he starts his new role at the end of April, will be to re-sign Wallaby utility back Matt Giteau to a longer contract.

“Matt is without doubt the most outstanding No.10 in the country,” he said. “You have to be competitive in the halves to be successful. He is an enormous priority for Western Australia.”

Mr Harris said another priority will be to develop local talent. “One of our goals is to develop local players into representative players,” he said. “That’s an exciting opportunity. It’s important that WA grows its own players and develops its own competition.”

During his tenure at SUSF, Mr Harris was involved with many initiatives, including the establishment of the Elite Entry Athlete program which now offers over 200 sporting scholarships annually, the $6.5 million redevelopment of the University Sports & Aquatic Centre, the amalgamation of the Sports Union and the Women’s Sports Association and a Memorandum of Association with the NSW Institute of Sport.

And during that time the SUSF’s budget increased from $3 million in 1992 to $10 million per annum.

SUSF fielded 20 athletes at the each of the past two Olympic Games, fields leading clubs in cricket and rugby union in Sydney grade competitions, has one of the most successful rowing clubs in the country and competes nationally in men’s and women’s water polo and women’s basketball. And during 2007, SUSF provided captains of Australian teams in rugby union, rugby sevens, men’s water polo and women’s cricket.
Mr Harris said any regrets he has leaving the University are far outweighed by the opportunities he has had to help develop SUSF, the fond memories and the lasting friendships he has made along the way.

“It was a fantastic opportunity when I was appointed in 1992 to have the freedom and flexibility to guide and develop SUSF,” he said. “The results and performances of our athletes and teams speak for themselves on and off the field.”