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Pohl calls time as Bond Rugby President

Outgoing Bond Rugby President Manny Pohl
Bond Rugby President Manny Pohl is stepping down after seven years in the role.

 

By Jordan Hughes 

A chance conversation at 30,000 feet revolutionised rugby on the Gold Coast. 

Manny Pohl may fly under the radar, but no one has been more instrumental in the growth of Premier Rugby on the Coast. 

Since Pohl became President of the Bond Rugby Club in 2015 the Bull Sharks have developed a training environment considered among the state’s best and facilities to rival clubs throughout the country.  

After a stellar 2022 season which saw the Premier Women’s side complete a clean sweep, winning the Queensland Premier Women’s rugby championship, the inaugural Charlotte Caslick Cup and the National University 7s title, Pohl has called time on his tenure. 

Pohl agreed to take on the role after sharing a flight with Bond Vice Chancellor and President Tim Brailsford.  

“I’ve been involved with rugby and Bond University for a long time. All three of my sons are graduates of the University and the game of rugby has been a big part of my life,” he said.  

“I was on a plane going to Sydney and the Vice Chancellor was on the same flight.  

“Tim had been in his position for a while and I had been involved with a number of Bond events including the Indigenous Gala, so we knew of each other. 

“We were talking and Tim said, ‘I need a president for the rugby club, would you be interested?’  

He said it would be one or two meetings a year, nothing strenuous. I said yes. 

“The wider community was happy for me to come on board and so it began.’’ 

After building a strong team around him, including fellow life member and former Gold Coast Bulletin editor Bob Gordon, the brand of Bond rugby began to grow. 

But there was something missing.  

“The place wasn’t a club. We didn’t have a home,” said Pohl. 

“After discussions with the Fay family, who were proud supporters of rugby on the Gold Coast, we were able to build the clubhouse we had always wanted with the University matching us dollar for dollar.” 

The completion of the Fabian Fay clubhouse proved to be a transformational moment for the club and provided the foundations for success moving forward. 

“It just changed the place. When the guys and girls are on the field they have something to fight for, a home to defend and showcase the core values of the rugby club,” he said. 

The next step for Pohl was coaching.  

He brought in Grant Anderson as first grade head coach, a man with a strong historical connection to Gold Coast rugby.  

“Ando was a former Gold Coast player, he loved the place and brought a different dimension which meant we had a clubhouse to call home and a coach we could call our own,” said Pohl. 

Bond University Rugby is now firmly entrenched in the Australian rugby landscape. It has built a strong community club and provided pathways for players, coaches and staff to progress. 

Pohl was recognised for his contribution with a life membership to the Bull Sharks.  

“I was gobsmacked. I’ve been the President but I have never thought my name would go on the other side of the board as a life member, it was really meaningful and such a highlight,” he said. 

As Pohl reflects on his time with the club there are many fond memories, but the display of character from players, coaches and the club community during the height of Covid-19 stands out. 

“What Luca Liussi and Grant Anderson did, along with the players, to support each other during such a challenging time, I think was admirable,” he said. 

“For me that is the highlight of a sport like rugby - the ability to help people when they really need it.”  

Pohl almost missed the triumphs of the 2022 season after trying to step back at the end of 2021. He heeded a call from the Vice Chancellor to stay for one more year and has no regrets. 

“I agreed (to stay) and it's like someone has written a fairy-tale: the women win the 15s premiership, the National 7s, the Caslick Cup, we win everything,” he said.  

Despite the thrill of success, Pohl said it was the people he would remember most fondly.  

“A highlight has been getting people like Luca in the club and Ando to be head coach and being able to launch the women's programs, especially with the 7s and then into the 15s,” he said.  

Away from rugby Pohl is a busy man. He is the chairman and CIO of EC. Pohl & Co, which provides managed portfolio services to individuals, superannuation funds and family offices.  

In 2014 he established the Pohl Foundation, which supports causes including Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, A Sound Life, the Gold Coast Hospital Foundation, and the New South Wales Art Gallery. 

“One of the key reasons why the Pohl Foundation was established is because I believe people need to put back into the community that is supportive of you,” he said. 

As Pohl’s chapter with the Bull Sharks closes, he has some final hopes for their future. 

“A men’s premiership is my hope, but more than just silverware in the cabinet is having a club where a player from a school in the neighbourhood or a local club can come to play at Bond and work their way into the Reds and then Wallabies or play at the Olympics,” he said. 

“That’s the trophy I want and what I'm really proud of.” 

 

 

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