New NSW Rugby Union CEO Paul Doorn says he’s stepping into the role with his eyes wide open, with the Waratahs and Australian rugby battling negative perceptions in a competitive sporting marketplace.
Doorn, who starts on Wednesday, had contact with his predecessor Andrew Hore in his previous job as CEO of Venues NSW.
He adds to a revamped set up for NSW, with the Waratahs also having a new coach and captain and playing roster.
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The Waratahs have made their worst start to a Super Rugby season, losing their first three games.
With Australian rugby in general struggling to make an impact, Doorn has had plenty of people ask him why he chose to get involved at such a challenging time.
“I’ve had a few people say the same thing to me, but it’s a fantastic opportunity.,” Doorn said.
“When you think about the the Waratahs brand representing the state, I’ve come from a job in which I’ve been proactively promoting state-owned assets for a while
“To take on a challenge – and it is a challenge – to look for the best out of what the game can bring to people, I think it’s a huge opportunity.”
Doorn has already had a couple of conversations with Waratahs coach Rob Penney and spoken to others in the rugby community.
“I did my due diligence talking to ex-players ex-officials, board members,” he said.
“I had a relationship with Andrew (Hore) the last couple of years through his work when they (the Waratahs) came out and played out at Bankwest, so I’ve come in with eyes wide open…”
One early challenge for Doorn is trying to reverse the trend of declining attendances, with the Tahs drawing their lowest-ever Super Rugby crowd for their last home game in Newcastle.
The nomadic Tahs home games this year are spread across Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, and Tamworth, while their stadium is being rebuilt.
‘I know this year we’re playing six different home game (venues) which is a disadvantage,” Doorn said.
“But also a huge opportunity to engage with a whole new set of markets that perhaps we haven’t done, or haven’t done as regularly as we have in the past.”
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