BJ Mather heads down under

Barrie-Jon Mather, currently the Head of Elite Player Development and England Team Manager with the RFL, will head to Australia next month to take up new job with New South Wales Rugby League.

Mather will become the General Manager, Football of the NSWRL, with a role that will see him overseeing competitions including the VB NSW Cup, the Ron Massey Cup, as well as the elite junior development programmes of the NSWRL, and he believes he is making the move at just the right time.

“There’s been a restructure over the last three to six months over there; they have made a few changes within New South Wales so it is a good time to be going in,” Mather told League Express.

“I’ll be dealing with the 16, 18s and 20s NSW competitions. Eleven of the 16 NRL teams are in NSW, so I’ll be dealing with those as well.”

Mather has worked for the RFL for four and a half years, and has played a key role in the development of the Academy systems.

“There have been a lot of issues to deal with, but one of the good things is that we have a structured season for the under-16s with the professional clubs and community games both having free weekends. The AASE (Achieving Academic and Sporting Excellence) system is slowly taking off and will show some rewards in the next couple of years.

“The quality of education that the players are getting is miles better than it was, and the clubs have really bought into this system. In the next couple of years we should be seeing players coming through who have been full-time Rugby League players since the age of 16.”

Mather will move to an environment where Rugby League is the number one sport.

“I think there are more than 100,000 kids playing the game there; their playing pool is much bigger. It will be interesting to go there and see what’s done with those kids.

“I have to learn about how the Australian system works. They have taken the lead with the under-20s in that every player has been in an apprenticeship or in education as well as playing. The first couple of months will be a learning process for me.

“I’m very excited and grateful to the NSWRL for giving me this opportunity to join the organisation at such an exciting time.

“After the success of the World Cup in the UK, I’m looking forward to a new challenge in Australia. The opportunity to work with some amazing and experienced people, and for an organisation with as much history and tradition as the NSWRL, was too good to resist.”

NSWRL CEO David Trodden is confident that Mather will be a valuable asset for the NSWRL.

“Barrie-Jon will bring a unique and exciting combination of football skills and academic qualifications to what will be a pivotal role in the administration of our game in NSW,” said Trodden.

“In his highly decorated playing career in England, he was the first person to ever represent England in both Rugby League and rugby union. He also had a stint with Western Reds in Australia,” Trodden said.

“In his administrative career he has held senior roles in elite player development and team management with the Rugby Football League. Academically, he holds a Bachelor’s degree with honours in Movement Science and Physical Education, a Masters degree in Business Administration and he is currently enrolled in a course to complete a Doctorate in Elite Performance. I am genuinely excited by what he will bring to Rugby League in NSW and the opportunities which his unique range of skills will provide for us.”