There's been a changing of the guard at the helm of Mount Isa Rugby Union.
Over a short period of three years outgoing MIRU president Kurt McGregor was determined to change the face of Rugby Union in Mount Isa, to bring it up to par with its regional peers and to show its history the respect it deserved.
With a lot of hard work completed, he is now stepping back to enjoy well deserved time with his family and passing the baton on to someone who he believes will continue this positive journey.
McGregor said that one of the most important parts of the job was to reconnect with Queensland Rugby Union.
"We did not have strong relationships and knew that, to build our processes, we had to gain their support," McGregor said.
"I will forever be grateful to Daniel Birrell and Krystal Kirkman. From hour long chats, meetings and late-night calls, they got us on track so that we were running the same game as everyone else in the state. QRU really made us accountable and, in turn, we wanted to ensure that clubs had accountability too. All clubs updated or initiated incorporation status and all ensured they had updated constitutions, including MIRU who were using the constitution from 1971."
McGregor said the association was excited about the future under a new committee.
"The committee is fantastic, and each member has a different club affiliation. Justin Nielsen (Warrigals) is stepping in as president and Jason Newell (Cloncurry) as secretary - we couldn't ask for more motivated and passionate individuals," he said.
"They have the same values and expectations as us and MIRU will continue thriving under them, with Vanya Foster (Keas) as treasurer and Daniel Rhodes (Euros) as Vice President."
McGregor said they worked hard on adding memorabilia to the club house and grounds.
"We had individuals who worked tirelessly to found and manage MIRU and it was vital that the rugby community had an awareness of who they were and the importance of their history," he said.
"Over a year we were able to refurbish the clubhouse and were given great historical programs and jerseys from Hag Harrison, a long term local of Mount Isa and MIRU. These are hung with pride in the Clubhouse so that everyone can get a glimpse of how MIRU and all the four clubs came into existence and by whom. We also had the four external signs rejuvenated and given the respect they so deserved. The playground grant is very exciting and will be an excellent addition for our young families and their children."
McGregor said they were incredibly lucky to have community support.
"Karen Pye from Isuzu Ute, Wade Remington from TopFire, John and Jaunita Doyle from 3SonsFitness, Mount Isa City Council, Clancy Corporation, Paint and Décor, Bunnings, Eathan from Innovar, Bernie and Shooey at Floorworx, Jason at MC Scaffolds, Dyno Nobel, Linmar, Glenda from Phoenix Security, Jodie at Steejo Press, Sports Power, Kerry Brisbane (our unofficial photographer), Jodie at Mount Isa Cinema, BCF, Kmart, Coles, Woolworths, Ronnie at Amazing Graze and Saberina at Bee Creations Innovative Event Styling, Katy Teaukura, Elsie Paul, Whateva Sports, these are all individuals and businesses who have sponsored and supported our competition and our tournaments and many of them have gone above and beyond to help us create an incredible, positive environment for our sport," he said.
"Shaine Hunter from Hunter Locksmiths and Robbie Campbell from Isa 4WD are individuals who played a big part in MIRU's history and who would not only sponsor us but guide us and help us out physically with the grounds.
"Having Billy Heagan and his wife Di at the grounds each week was wonderful. Their support meant the world and they sponsored $5000 towards our junior team. Billy was the founder of the Warrigals club and was brother in law to Ray Clark, the founder of Mount Isa Rugby Union. We were incredibly lucky to have Ray's wife Karen, and daughters Lana and Sheelagh, present our Ray Clarke Spirit of Rugby Award on the 2019 presentation night, via video. This was the first year that kicked off an MIRU presentation night and the first award of its kind. We were informed that Ray was a stickler for the rules and expected up to date constitutions, financials, paperwork and the like. We hope he would be proud of the work we have done to ensure the association and sub unions are doing everything above board."
Kurt's final words are more personal,
"Honestly I couldn't have made any changes in MIRU without my wife Katy. She came on board as Secretary when our son was only a few weeks old. She was the driving force when we had challenges or when jobs needed to be done. She worked tirelessly to get our playground grant finalised and arranged for our fantastic friends to come and support us when refurbishing, as well as volunteering their time on the bar and gate. I am very much looking forward to spending more time with her and our young son and maybe getting the occasional trip back down to the field," he said.
New President Justin Nielsen said: he was grateful to the outgoing president and secretary Kurt and Katy McGregor who put their heart and souls into MIRU for the past few years.
"Ushering in the online registration system outlined by the ARU, no easy task trying to get an entire code of footballers using it. Creating the Superhero Draft which was an outstanding event and will become a fixture in the MIRU calendar. Working towards developing and growing a junior's rugby union competition, along with juniors rookies to reds programs. Both Kurt and Katy worked with Queensland rugby to organise training tools for our refs and coaches as well as getting some of the players from the Queensland Reds to come out and visit the Isa community. Mount Isa rugby union owes a great thanks to the time and energy they both have put into the club, not to mention left some large shoes to fill," he said.
Asked about his new role Justin said he wanted to give a little bit back to the sport he had played for 20 years at the grounds.
"I'm so excited to take the opportunity. Being that I'm coming in with the COVID pandemic restricting operations there are definitely going to be some challenges to work out but MIRU has a great committee in place, strong community support and four good clubs who will all work to ensure our code of footy will be fine and pull through. Not to mention I will have the honour of being MIRU president in 2021 when we will celebrate 50 years of rugby in the Isa which will be pretty special for me, plus now I can properly "retire" from playing," he said.
The MIRU committee has asked that supporters and players keep an eye on their Facebook page for any updates to the season. Also, if there are any old boys with memorabilia they would like to share please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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