Randwick is intent on going it alone in the new National Rugby Championship in the future, despite the Sydney club and arch-rival Eastern Suburbs being named as key partners of the NSW Country team for this year's debut tournament which starts in August.
But Randwick, while saying it initially sought to create an eastern seaboard NRC franchise with Eastern Suburbs and Southern Districts, has reiterated that this year it will remain committed to the partnership with NSW Country that was announced on Monday.
However Randwick president Bob Dwyer said a major plus for the iconic club was the financial relief it would get as it implements its planned rebuild as a Shute Shield force, with NSW Country having already secured ''tremendous financial support'' for the NRC.
''It’s a very good relationship for us. Financially, it relieves us of the burden we would have had had we gone alone initially,'' Dwyer said on Wednesday at Randwick's launch of the Shute Shield that starts on Saturday with Randwick playing Eastern Suburbs at Woollahra Oval.
''They [NSW Country] understand it is still our intention to go it alone [at] some stage in the future. It might be as early as in one more year, or it might be another year or two after that, but it's certainly our intention to go it alone in the superior level of competition.''
But Dwyer stressed that NSW Country would also gain much from having Randwick and Eastern Suburbs as its partners. ''What they [NSW Country] are short of is players and what Easts and Randwick have got are players,'' Dwyer said. ''We believe we have a lot more to offer them as well and have told them so. [But] the head partner are clearly NSW Country.''
Randwick director and former Wallaby Simon Poidevin said the club would decide on what future in the NRC it will pursue after this year's competition.
Asked how Randwick would handle its relationship with NSW Country, knowing it might part ways, Poidevin said: ''Through trust and being totally committed to the first year. At the end of the first year, we might think this is the model to work with going forward.
''Clearly everyone has aspirations to be their own entity. We've had some very interesting strategic discussions with partners on that. But we are totally committed to this partner. We will work for the best success of the team – and to give our players opportunity to play at that higher level. It will be clearer at the end of the first year where we go from there.''
Poidevin lauded the NRC for providing Australian rugby with a third tier of competition under Test and Super Rugby, but he said Randwick's association with NSW Country would allow it to remain focused on returning as the powerful stand-alone club it once was.
''We are clearly re-building to where we want to be. That has been a very strong focus,'' Poidevin said. ''The NRC was another level of complexity to where we are going and to be able [to] partner with Country was a fantastic outcome.''
As for Saturday's Shute Shield derby between Randwick and Eastern Suburbs?
Poidevin joked that it would be a ''great selection'' match for which players from the two sides are later picked to play for NSW Country. But then he added with a wry grin: ''No ... It's all about the local derby.''
The story Randwick committed to partnership but determined to go it alone in future first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.