Newsletter – September 2016

Hearts in Union would like to thank you for your support and interest in our work. Each year, Hearts in Union provides valuable support and assistance to a range of people who have tragically suffered a severe spinal or other permanent and life altering injury through a freak accident while playing rugby.

Thank you to our supporters in the rugby community  

A massive thank you to all the rugby clubs, organisations and individual people that have supported our cause and raised funds for the charity in the past year. The rugby community is a caring and generous place. Much of this support is voluntary from people taking the initiative to get involved and raise funds to support our severely injured players. We can’t thank everyone enough.

You are making a real difference! – Our work in 2015/16

The Numbers


Two of our beneficiaries in 2016, Lachlan O’Brien and Maciu “Matty” Vosa from Melbourne

Thanks to our supporters, we were able to give just over $100,000 to assist 7 different former rugby players across 3 states. We also have $70,000 to $80,000 earmarked or already approved for projects underway to assist 3 or 4 more people in the very near future. The Assistance Assistance included funding for new wheelchairs & wheelchair modifications, converted wheelchair accessible vans, a lift/hoist for entry into modified vans, a swivel seat, navigation system, urgent home repairs, car conversion mods and more. In no particular order, thank you to the following clubs & organisations for making a real difference by providing life affirming and enabling support in someone’s life.


NSW Waratahs 

Hearts in Union was proud to be an official ‘match day charity’ of the NSW Waratahs once again in 2016. The NSW Waratahs continue to be fantastic supporters and promoters of our cause by not only raising funds but also donating free tickets for our seriously injured players and their carers. The NSW Waratahs have been dedicated supporters of Hearts in Union and our injured players for several years and their support and recognition is highly valued and appreciated. We were also thrilled to receive two donations from Daikin, Principal Partner of the NSW Waratahs, thanks to Daikin’s Catch to WIN and GIVE promotion. Thank you to Joseph Baidengan and Chris Mitchell, the two winners during the season who both chose Hearts in Union for their charity of choice and subsequent Daikin donation!


Hearts in Union Liaison Officer, Mark Tonga with NSW Waratahs’ players, Bernard Foley and Wycliff Palu at the charity’s Match Day against the Qld Reds on 27 February 2016

Laffo’s Long Lunch 

laffos long lunch 2016 newsletter-september2016cHearts in Union was delighted to be invited to again take part in and be one of the beneficiaries of Laffo’s Long Lunch on 23 June 2016. Our sincere thanks to the Andrew Coorey and the Johnsmen’s Association for this privilege. Eddie Jones was the main guest, speaking a few days before England scored a historic maiden series win in Australia after (unfortunately!) outclassing the Wallabies in the Sydney Test. Special guest performer, Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus with Hearts in Union Liaison Officer, Mark Tonga and Hearts in Union Director, Nick Stevens. Laffo’s Long Lunch is an annual event that honours the late, great Matt Laffan and also raises vital funds for The Matt Laffan Scholarship, which enables students with disabilities to attend St John’s College at the University of Sydney.


Wynnum Bugs Rugby Union

Each year the Wynnum Bugs Rugby Club in partnership with BLK create a jersey to raise funds on behalf of a charitable organisation – what a wonderful initiative to take! We were thrilled to be chosen this year. Wynnum put on a fantastic Old Boy’s Day on 16 July 2016 and auctioned off the jerseys which displayed the names of the Club’s top Senior Team of the past 25 years. Congratulations and thank you to Wynnum Bugs for their generosity and willingness to raise funds for the charity.


Hearts in Union Director, Sam Robson with Arthur Eustace-Earle (Club Life Member) and David Anderson (auctioneer).

waverley ruby club

Waverley Rugby Club

Waverley Rugby have been tremendous supporters of Hearts in Union for several years. The Club continued their greatly appreciated support in 2016 and made a very generous donation to the charity at their recent 2016 Presentation Night. Our sincere thanks to Waverley Rugby and congratulations on an incredible year for the Club that saw all grades make finals, 2 win major premiers, and the Club get promoted for a second year running to return to Subbies Division 1!

waverley ruby 2016 presentation night

Waverley Rugby’s Kenny Brown, Omar Kasdi & Ben Evans with Hearts in Union’s Mark Tonga & Nick Stevens at the 2016 Presentation Night

badgers rugby

Badgers Rugby 

Badgers Rugby are a charity invitational rugby union club, currently competing in 7 a side and 10 a side rugby competitions throughout Victoria during 2016 and NSW in 2017.  Badgers Rugby’s main aim is raise funds at their events and to win prize money for charity. Hearts in Union was thrilled that Badgers Rugby recently chose Hearts in Union as their charity of choice to support. Badgers rugby have some great merchandise for sale, including jerseys, t-shirts and polos, singlets and hats to come. Badgers Rugby have extremely generously decided to donate all proceeds, not just profits, from the sale of the merchandise to Hearts in Union. Thank you to Badgers Rugby and George Billam for their generosity and we wish them luck in their upcoming tournaments! badgers rugby jersey Please check out their gear on Facebook @badgersrugbyunion or pagecloud badgers rugby shirts

Annual Golf Day with Classic Wallabies 

newsletter-september2016e The 7th annual “Uncle Evan Fraser” Charity Challenge Golf Day in conjunction with the “Shawn Mackay Perpetual Trophy” was a great success, with teams competing on Friday, 6 March 2015 at St Michael’s Golf Club in Sydney. A very big thank you to everyone who attended and helped make the Golf Day such a success and congratulations to the winning teams! newsletter-september2016k classic-wallabies-logoMany thanks to the Classic Wallabies for their invaluable support and to all the former Wallabies who played this year including, John Eales, Simon Poidevin, Matt Burke, Stephen Hoiles, James Black, Peter Carson, Ian Robinson & many others. Of course, the Golf Day could not happen without the work of Gary ‘Smokey’ Dawson at Bullant Sports and Matthew Laverty Corporate Golf. newsletter-september2016l heartsinunion_sponsors_macquarie Special thanks also goes to the Golf Day’s main supporter, the Macquarie Group Foundation, who generously agreed to once again match the funds raised at the Golf Day. These funds are being used to provide local rugby clubs with NeckSafe training sessions, which train and educate first hand responders on how to correctly treat spinal injuries at the scene of an accident.


RUPA – The Rugby Union Players’ Association

RUPA are dedicated to helping our injured players and they continue to be fantastic supporters and promoters of the charity. We were honoured to once again be the recipients of funds raised at their 2015 Annual Awards Lunch last December. RUPA’s fundraising in conjunction with generous contributions from Buildcorp & FCB Workplace Law were greatly appreciated. Thank you to Ross Xenos and his team at RUPA, Josephine & Tony Sukkar at Buildcorp and Campbell & Jessica Fisher at FCB Workplace Law for all your support!

2015 Volvo – RUPA Annual Awards Lunch


newsletter-september2016o The Baa-Baa’s and the Australian Schoolboys are both long standing and integral institutions of Australian Rugby Union. It was a privilege to be a beneficiary of their respective annual fundraising luncheons in 2016. We are very grateful for their fundraising support and to have such highly respected organisations promote our cause within the rugby community. Special thanks to Charlie Blunt of the Baa-Baa’s and Andrew Elliot of the Australian Schoolboys for their personal support!


Hearts in Union Ambassador Adam Frieir, interviewing Mark Tonga and Nick Stevens at the Australian Barbarian’s Luncheon on 11 March 2016


Maitland Rugby Club & Punching Above for Dom

Maitland Rugby Club’s annual charity day on 16 July 2016 was all about raising funds for Dominic Punch. Dom’s life changed forever in September 2015, when he unfortunately suffered a severe spinal cord injury during the last few minutes of the second grade Newcastle premiership rugby union grand final game for Maitland. Inspired by Dom’s strength in the face of adversity, Maitland Rugby and the local community have rallied around him tremendously since that day. Their charity day was no different with a great turnout and a fantastic fundraising result. newsletter-september2016r

For more info on Dom and helping him on his road to recovery please visit


Mudgee Rugby Ladies’ Day

The Mudgee Wombats dedicate their annual Ladies’ Day to fundraising for charity. This year, on 30 July, Mudgee Rugby generously raised funds for Hearts in Union. We really appreciated this kind offer and the hard work of the volunteers to make it happen. Hearts in Union Founder, Rocky Mileto and Hearts in Union beneficiary, Wilson te Whata from Dubbo attended on behalf of the charity and really enjoyed the hospitality shown by everyone at the club. Even more generously, some of the club’s members have also offered their expertise to assist with some home repairs we are organising for Wilson te Whata! Thank you to all involved for your kindness.

mudgee rugby ladies day

Hearts in Union beneficiary Wilson te Whata & Founder, Rocky Mileto with Carra Rayner, who did an amazing job organising our involvement in Mudgee Rugby’s Ladies Day

Last but certainly not least, thank you to all the other clubs that have also given us invaluable support, both in the past and the present, including… clubs supported

Could your rugby club “Help us to help our own” ?

It’s inspiring that so many local rugby clubs have reached out to volunteer their support. If your own club might be willing to help raise funds for Hearts in Union in 2017, we would love to hear from you. You can get in touch via our website any time. Any support you could give will make a real difference in the rugby community by “helping us to help our own”.

We thank you again for your interest & support.

Yours in Rugby, the Directors of Hearts in Union Rugby Foundation Australia.

Hearts in Union is a charity where ex-players and supporters can help those who’ve had extreme misfortune playing our game. We aim to ensure those players that have been severely injured receive the best possible support throughout their lives.