Photo Credit: (Front Row L-R) AHP Carl Piggott, AHP George Brown, ABCRA Keith Button. (Back Row L-R) AHP
Ron Bryant, CRCA Les Flohr,CRCADaryl Baulch, NRA Bob Armitage, NRA Bill Urquhart, ABCRA Greg Frewin
The National Rodeo Council of Australia 'NRCA' started after a chance conversation between a stock contractor and a local progress association president in the mid to late eighties.
The Coomera Valley Progress Association was looking at ways to raise funds for the community and president Carl Piggott suggested a rodeo. The local committee comprised of a solicitor, chemist, marketing consultant, developer, financial advisor and several businessmen. They all agreed to appoint Carl Piggott to source costs and report back at the next meeting.
Carl had followed rodeo from the 60’s and was looking for the ARRA not knowing they had changed names a few years before to the APRA. After sourcing their phone number he contacted the association and spoke with Colin McTaggart the president at that time who arranged a meeting and advised of the procedures to run a rodeo; staffing, contractors, prize money etc.
The committee known as the Hinterland Rodeo set about raising the necessary funds after an extensive advertising campaign on the Gold Coast. The rodeo was an outstanding success with over 4,000 people attending; police arrived to help with highway congestion.
After a post mortem of the event, the committee decided to make it an annual rodeo and after speaking to various rodeo personnel it was soon learned that there were other rodeo associations. The committee decided to try a different association each year and subsequently ran with the ABCRA, NRA and CRCA.
On conclusion of running with four associations it was quickly established that there was no governing body with rules, fees etc. The associations were made up of competitors, committees, promoters and one association of both competitors and promoters.
Competitor’s entry fee distribution was vastly different in all associations and very confusing. All had no competitor insurance protection which put the committee’s at serious risk and on conclusion of six successful Hinterland Rodeos Carl Piggott decided to call two close friends; one was a senior marketing executive, the other a financial and insurance broker with the possibility of forming a company and uniting the various rodeo associations to promote the sport nationally and so the journey began….
In December 1991 a meeting was convened at the ANA hotel on the Gold Coast. In attendance were representatives from the APRA, NRA, CRCA, ABCRA and representatives from AHP (Australian Heritage Promotions) comprising of George Brown, Carl Piggott and Ron Bryant. It was resolved that each Association would return to their respective associations, put forward the prospect of a united front for rodeo and return in the first quarter of 1992 with the intention of forming a National Rodeo Council of Australia.
In May 1992 the National Rodeo Council of Australia was formed. Australian Heritage Promotions was charged with the administration of the newly formed group and George Brown was the inaugural chairman; the APRA declined to join.
A firm of solicitors was appointed to register the newly formed company and subsequent meetings were held in their law chambers to employ the workings of the new company.
The inaugural office was set up until George Brown’s retirement in early 1993 due to illness. Ron Bryant attended to finance and insurance and Carl Piggott with sports administration and he was subsequently the first person to gain recognition for rodeo by the federal government and was awarded the Australian Sport Medal for Services to Rodeo in 2000.
After extensive research it was established that there were some 17 different rodeo groups operating all over Australia independently with cross adoption of rules. Most had no membership and local stock was used for events; animal welfare issues were non-existent. A lot of well meaning committees and associations were ignorant of public safety, animal welfare and competitor issues. Australian Heritage Promotions, then headed by Carl Piggott looked to other sporting entities such as rugby league, rugby union and surf lifesaving and quickly identified the major shortfalls in rodeo.
A policy was adopted to bring the sport in line with others, to gain recognition by the Australian Sports Institute and as a result, numerous meetings took place in Canberra representing the sport.
The following policy was adopted at the time by the NRCA:
Aims & Objectives
A program was put into place by AHP to implement the NRCA policy, beginning with the first Pro-masters in 1992 then held bi-annually in 1994 and 1996 hosted twice in Beaudesert and once in Rockhampton. The Pro-masters series were undoubtedly the best rodeos held in Australia with announcers, competitors, officials and stock drawn from all member associations.
Chute boss Doug Vickers from the Australian Professional Bull Riders Association kept the events running smooth and fast from beginning to end and still remains the best Chute Boss Australia has produced. Winners from the events were true Australian Champions having to compete from ALL states from ALL Associations.
Various other programs were implemented to highlight the sport and gain public recognition including:
1. Farmfest, Toowoomba QLD
Rough stock demonstration
2. International Harness Racing
Nationally televised (Rodeo girls on painted horses leading the winners)
3. International Competitor Negotiation
Negotiation for International Competitors for Pro-Masters Winners to compete in Dubai and Malaysia (thwarted by 2000, 911 attacks in US)
4. National Advertising Campaign
National advertising campaign conducted through art union advertising in all sports magazines Australia wide
5. Safety Awareness Program
Safety program for competition including mandatory helmets for juniors (investigation into Kevlar gloves, vests and strapping for competitors)
6. National Insurance Scheme
Insurance for competitors, committees and stock contractors
7. Training Seminars
Training seminars held for coaches run by an independent consultant resulting in ‘Train the Trainer’ certificates being issued to recipients
8. First full colour Rodeo Magazine
Initiated the first full colour magazine run independently to highlight Australian rodeo and distributed internationally
9. Longest Running National Rodeo Queen Quest
Initiated the longest running National Rodeo Queen Quest run independently and open to all women and girls Australia wide and recognized internationally in the US and Canada for the past 23 years
10. National Patron
Established a national figure through patron Michael Willessee
Photo Credit: NRCA Patron Mike Willesee & Carl Piggott
11. First Australian Rodeo Museum/Hall of Fame
NRCA Director Colin McTaggart in conjunction with the NRCA established the first rodeo museum in Goondiwindi, QLD
Photo Credit: NRCA Directors celebrate NRCA National Rodeo Hall of Fame OPENING with Tania Kernaghan
12. Assisted First Aboriginal Association
Assisted in establishing the first aboriginal rodeo association in Australia
13. National Common Competition Rules
Liaised with member associations to formalise a set of National 'Common' Competition Rules
14. Animal Welfare
Assisted in animal welfare legislation
15. National Injury Register
Implemented national injury recording register to assist in recurring injuries through better procedures and rules
16. FIRST National Rodeo Forum
Held Australia’s first National Rodeo Forum to discuss the future of rodeo. Associations from every state of Australia were in attendance
17. FIRST National Rodeo Finals; THE PRO-MASTERS
(Encompassing THREE of the Major Rodeo Associations at the time)
Undoubtedly, three of the best rodeos ever held in Australia (Beaudesert and Rockhampton) with announcers, competitors, officials and stock drawn from all member associations.
*The National Rodeo Finals continues today having also been held in Goondiwindi, Ipswich and NOW in Dalby, QLD.
Photo Credit: Founding Directors (L-R) Keith Button, Greg Frewin, Les Flohr, Daryl Baulch,
Ron Bryant & Carl Piggott at one of the first Pro-Masters National Rodeo Finals events
18. FIRST Australian Sports Medal Received for Rodeo
NRCA Chairman Carl Piggott receives the first ever medal in rodeo for services to the sport
Photo Credit: Carl Piggott receives Rodeo's FIRST Australian Sports Medal for services to the industry
The National Rodeo Council stands as an organisation of associations funded and owned by its members and is committed by informed decisions for the promotion of the sport for competitors, committees and personnel and will continue to grow by strong leadership and member input.