In an historic changing of the guard, the 114-year-old Melbourne Rugby Club, last week elected its first female president.
Michelle Iezzi (pronounced YET-zi), a Club member for 15 years and Junior Coordinator for seven, was elected unopposed at the Club’s Annual General Meeting on October 4 with the backing and support of the committee and outgoing President of nine years Tyrone Landsman.
Michelle’s family are all involved with the Club. Her two boys Enzo and Luca both play and husband Anthony is a Club committee member and was Team Manager for the under-16s this season.
Michelle believes she is only the third woman to be elected president of a rugby Club in Melbourne.
She acknowledged the “immense contribution” Tyrone had made to the Club as President and the countless hours spent behind the scenes.
“I really appreciate Tyrone’s offer of continued assistance, guidance and advice for the year ahead.” she said.
“He will still be involved in his role as immediate past President as well as continuing to assist the Club with sponsorship and player recruitment.”
Michelle said she was grateful to all those who expressed their support for her in the new role. “I do love this Club and our rugby community. Being President is not about me individually it’s about the Club – that’s my motivation.
“With our new committee, I look forward to building on the great work of everyone who has made this Club what it is today. Our vision for 2024 is for a successful season, on and off the field, across our men’s, women’s and junior teams. We will also work hard to bring more cohesion and connection across all parts of the Club and our wider community.
“Being Junior Coordinator has been amazing. I really appreciate all the fabulous people I have met and the tireless work that our volunteers put in. It has been a thrill to watch kids grow from starting in under-6 or 7s to playing in under-18s and up into seniors.
Michelle’s rugby journey started in Sydney. But her family moved to Melbourne when she was just a one-year-old. Her father played Club rugby for Lindfield and Mosman and her grandfather played in the undefeated St Joseph’s College (‘Joeys’) firsts in 1923. Some of those players went on to become Wallabies.
“Growing up in Melbourne we used to watch Bledisloe Cups on Saturday afternoons and I introduced Anthony to rugby. He had no idea about it before we met,” she said.
Enzo, her eldest son started when he was five at Melbourne Rugby. Now 20, he played Colts this year and in second grade. “He’s now well entrenched in the seniors and Luca will be playing in under-18s next year,” she said.
“We gave our boys the choice. They did Auskick and rugby training in the first year in under-6. They both chose rugby over AFL. I was very happy with that.”
“I really value all that rugby stands for – the respect, the teamwork, the camaraderie. I love that everyone needs to be working together for success. It’s a great lesson for kids and an important reminder for all of us.”
During the season Michelle said she watches both boys play if she can.
Away from the Club she and Anthony are keen Rebels and Wallabies supporters. Both work full-time in their own business running a locally based advertising agency. They have also lived in Stonnington for many years, so are well established in the local neighbourhood.
As President, Michelle will oversee a committee of nine, three of whom are women. One of her main goals is for the Club to continuing growing in members – including increasing the number of female players.
Being more proactive with social events is another. “Things are hard at the moment because we don’t have a clubhouse. So, we’ve got to be a bit more creative with the way we work around that in order to make sure that the Club culture is maintained and that the social side is vibrant,” she said.
Michelle said the President’s Club lunches with the marquee on the sidelines would also continue next season to maintain positivity within the Club until a new clubhouse proposed by council is built. She would also like to get more volunteers involved.
“I would like to invite everyone to please come and talk to me or call if you have good ideas for the future, time to help out or issues to discuss.”
Michelle Iezzi, President
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Article written by John Carson