The South Sydney Rabbitohs and North Sydney Bears have extended their affiliation agreement until the end of the 2019 season, and for the first time, this formal affiliation agreement is to be registered with the New South Wales Rugby League in conjunction with the South Sydney Juniors.
The Bears will maintain their status as the official feeder club to the Rabbitohs NRL side, with the Bears continuing their affiliation through the NSW Intrust Super Premiership competition, and now adding the State-based under 20s side to their portfolio.
South Sydney and North Sydney, two of Rugby League’s foundation Clubs with histories that date back to 1908, have been in partnership since 2007 with the Bears feeding into the NRL-based Rabbitohs from the New South Wales second tier competition for over a decade.
The Rabbitohs logo will appear on the Bears’ red and black jersey in a display of the tight bond between the two clubs celebrating their 110th anniversaries in 2018.
The Rabbitohs will work closely with the Bears on all levels of football operations and team functions including recruitment, coaching, team selections, sports science and high performance programs, training facilities, player welfare and education, and player development.
The North Sydney NSW ISP and under 20s sides will train out of Redfern Oval for a majority of training sessions throughout each week, with their main base for home games being North Sydney Oval. This will allow the Rabbitohs coaching, high performance staff and players to work more closely with the Bears coaching and training staff to ensure a seamless transition for players moving between full time training and playing in the NSW ISP or under 20s competitions on any given weekend.
The Rabbitohs, Bears and South Sydney Juniors will work together to provide a continuous pathway from under 16s through to the NRL for any players in the Souths Juniors and North Sydney systems. The seamless pathways will include coaching, strength and conditioning programs, nutrition, wellbeing and education. This is a three-way affiliation between the organisations.
Rabbitohs General Manager of Football, Shane Richardson, says the partnership between South Sydney, North Sydney and Souths Juniors is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
“We’re very happy to be extending our affiliation with the Bears. They are a professionally run outfit and we have worked well together for a long time now,” Mr Richardson said.
“Greg Florimo, Perry Lopez and their team have always been great to work with and our partnership with them allows both clubs to run their operations at their peak.
“Our relationship with Souths Juniors has never been stronger and they are fully supportive of this pathway. They didn’t want to run a NSW Cup or under 20s side because their focus has always been the development of junior talent and the growth of the game in the South Sydney district.
“The Bears have proven that they can run a NSW Cup and under 20s side in partnership with us, and Souths Juniors indicated that they are more than happy to be part of this three-way affiliation agreement. The agreement allows Souths Juniors to focus on their strengths, the Bears to do the same, and the Rabbitohs to work more closely than ever with both organisations.
“Let me be clear, the pathway for talented players in the South Sydney Juniors program has never been stronger and will provide a clear journey from junior representative football through to the NRL with a consistent approach throughout all aspects of the high performance environment.
“With us contracting 36 players next year, it’s highly likely that a majority of the Bears’ team will be South Sydney-contracted players, and we’ll be working closely with them around recruitment of their State Cup and under 20s squads.
“We’ll also be working with them on coaching appointments, support staff employees, and they will base their training out of Redfern Oval.
“To have two foundation clubs working so closely together for an extended period in their 110th years is also a positive for the game and I’m sure all Rugby League fans enjoy seeing the famous red and green, and red and black, jerseys each weekend. To see the Rabbit alongside the Bear on the North Sydney jersey is fantastic and really shows the respect both clubs have for each other’s histories and the path forward.
“We couldn’t be happier with this arrangement and we look forward to successful seasons ahead for all Rabbitohs, Bears and Souths Juniors teams.”
North Sydney Bears CEO, Greg Florimo, said: “We are very happy to continue our relationship with South Sydney for 2018-19.
“Ours is a unique situation where both clubs are foundation clubs, and all players and staff get the benefit of having the support, history and tradition associated with clubs who have both been in the game for over 100 years.
“It is the goal of the Bears to help to continue to develop those young men to play first grade, and to secure the short and long term success of the club.”