Updated: Mar 22
Photo credit: RMIT Sport
The structure of UniSport Nationals is set for another significant change for 2020 and beyond, with the current separate Div 1-Div 2 structure to revert back to a single, combined event.
Despite the introduction of more local, inter-varsity competitions and single-sport events, the 2020 structure is likely to reduce the opportunities for students to get involved in national university sport.
RMIT’s Representative Sport Officer Eliza Goulding said that a single event means students can no longer represent the university in multiple sports.
“We have some students that play basketball at Div 2 and are now playing footy at Div 1 and they won’t have that same opportunity to participate twice,” Goulding said.
This will be the second overhaul of the competition structure in as many years.
In 2018, state-based UniGames events and the Australian UniGames were replaced by the rebranded Div 1 and Div 2 UniSport Nationals.
The change was designed to increase the standard of the events and better define the pathway for progression in sports.
Goulding said the new changes were too soon and “rushing the model”.
“I'm a bit reluctant regarding the changes,” she said. “I feel they haven’t given the current Nationals format enough time. I think given that it’s in Perth next year, we were going to see a drop in participation numbers anyway so it’s going to be a hard event to get a true reflection of what Nationals looks like.”
She added that financial issues were a driving factor behind the change.
“I know one of the reasons that they’re doing this new combined event is to try and reduce the operating costs so I think in the short-term they will stick with it to try and get back on track financially and hopefully they can come up with a format that works,” Goulding said.
Communications and Marketing Coordinator at UniSport Australia David Simon denied that the organisation’s financial strain was the reason behind the change.
Simon said UniSport had received “overwhelming” feedback that member universities wanted to trial a combined-events system.
He said more local, inter-varsity competitions and single-sport events would “create even more opportunities”, rather than limiting them.
Simon did not comment on whether we would see the combined-event model last beyond next year.
“It's a question for once the event has taken place, then we can then assess it to see the challenges and the successes that we'll get out of it,” he said.