Focus of new Bush chief is on financial stability

By Gary Caffell

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The newly-appointed chief executive officer of the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union will need little introduction to the local rugby fraternity.

Tony Hargood, 48, is an old boy of Cornwall St Primary School and Chanel College who coached the Marist club's colts and senior sides and Wairarapa-Bush B, before leaving to take up a position in Auckland some 12 years ago.

And he has also made a name for himself in rugby circles there, having coached Mt Wellington's senior side to promotion to the premier division, had two years as coach of of the Auckland under-23s and, since 2008, been fulltime director of coaching for the College Rifles club, which boasts over 1000 playing members.

The CEO role at Wairarapa-Bush became vacant last November when Phil Taylor, who filled the post for 12 years, resigned. Hargood, who was employed in the finances and operations section of Hansells in Masterton, admits he was unaware of the opportunity until rung by some people who thought he might be interested in applying.

"Quite honestly, the decision to apply was made pretty quickly. I've always felt a great affection for Wairarapa-Bush rugby and the idea of returning home was very appealing.

I'm rapt to be given the chance, it's a big challenge but I'm looking forward to it."

Hargood understands the financial hassles which have confronted the Wairarapa-Bush union over the past 12 months and says his first priority will be to help rectify that situation.

"Obviously, financial stability is hugely important and that's where the initial focus will have to be," he said.

Hargood is also keen to see Wairarapa-Bush build on the strong showing they made in the Heartland championship last year, where they made it to the semifinals of the premier section, the Meads Cup, losing narrowly to defending champions Wanganui.

"That sort of success has given us a great platform to work from in terms of growing the sport, and we need to take advantage of it," Hargood said.

Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union chairman Graeme Reisima said Tony Hargood's selection as chief executive came after an exhaustive process which involved dissecting the merits of several well-credentialled applicants.

"We were delighted with the outstanding quality of the people who put their names forward, a number of whom were actually prepared to take a wage reduction to take up the job, "he said. "Tony has all the necessary qualifications to do an outstanding job, and I'm confident that will be the case."

Reisima said Hargood's past experience in Wairarapa-Bush rugby had to be a plus in that it meant he had first-hand knowledge of what was required to move the game forward here.

As to the cash flow problems which beset the Wairarapa-Bush union last season Reisima said all creditors had now been paid with the NZRFU providing a short-term loan to aid that process.

As part of that loan the national body requires some changes in procedure, including the manner in which the WBRFU board is elected and how its financial reporting is carried out.

"There are certain things we have to do and we are now working through those," Reisima said. "It's been a tough time but we're starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel."

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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