The St George Illawarra Dragons and University of Wollongong on Monday announced an extended partnership for a further two years, until at least the end of 2017.
The partnership was formalised with the Club and UOW signing an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to extend their longstanding partnership which now extends to include the naming rights of Jubilee Oval, Kogarah.
The renamed UOW Jubilee Oval will host its first NRL fixture for the 2016 season when the Dragons host the Canberra Raiders on Thursday night.
“We have had a positive and progressive relationship with UOW for the past seven years and we are delighted to join forces with them and Kogarah Council on this naming rights arrangement,” said Dragons CEO Peter Doust.
“UOW is respected and recognised internationally and we are delighted to continue and extend our association.”
The partnership also provides for a joint community program within the St George district focused on inspiring school students to become leaders, set long term education and career goals, discover pathways to achieve them, develop study skills and build resilience to overcome challenges.
The Dragons and UOW initially formalised their association in 2009, committing under an MoU to collaboratively pursue positive outcomes for both organisations regarding research, scholarships, community programs, internships, promotions and facility use.
University of Wollongong Chief Finance Officer Damien Israel said the partnership opens up opportunities for collaboration and engagement within the wider community.
“We believe the partnership is a perfect fit and we have seen great success already through a range of initiatives, including the Graduates of League program,” said Israel.
“By extending our partnership with the St George Illawarra Dragons we are reaffirming our commitment to this great club and to our shared objectives.”
The Dragons currently have 17 players enrolled at the University studying a broad range of degrees as part of the acclaimed Graduates of League (GOL) program.
The GOL program was founded by the Athlete Education Foundation (AEF) in 2012 to increase university entry, retention and completion rates among elite athletes and professional sports people.
A successful pilot program run in 2012 at UOW in partnership with the Dragons, which was led by Club Captain Ben Creagh, has since been replicated across other NRL clubs, in association with universities, nationwide.
“I started playing rugby league with the University of Wollongong Club and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2013,” said Creagh.
“The Dragons and UOW are significant organisations across our region which I am proud to be associated with and the ongoing opportunities not only benefit both organisations, but so too our community.”
UOW is a research-intensive university with an outstanding reputation for its learning environments across a broad range of disciplines and is presently ranked within the top two-percent of tertiary institutions worldwide.