Steggles and the Sydney Roosters aren’t letting COVID-19 get in the way of their fundraising and community outreach for children’s charities.

NRL team, the Sydney Roosters may not have won in points when they came up against the South Sydney Rabbitohs on 27 August, but they certainly won the hearts of some special kids and families by running out for Ronald McDonald House.  

The match, which is part of the Steggles & Sydney Roosters Charity Nest Round and took place in the NRL pandemic ‘bubble’ in Queensland, was a symbolic moment in an enduring corporate partnership that has stood the tests of time and COVID-19.  

11 years ago, Australian poultry producer, Steggles, created an opportunity to grow their existing charity giving program, the Steggles Charity Nest, which was established in the early 2000s. As part of their 2010 sponsorship agreement with the Sydney Roosters, Steggles expanded the program to include the Steggles Roosters Charity Nest, a partnership between the two organisations that focuses, in equal parts, on fundraising and community outreach to support children’s charities.  

For every margin point the Roosters win by, Steggles donates $1,000 and the Roosters donate $250. The initiative recently reached an impressive fundraising milestone of $4.5 million. But just as important is their community work, and this has had to adapt during the pandemic.  

In March 2020, a relationship was developed with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), as part of a new national partnership that aims to make a difference in the lives of seriously ill children and their families. 

The partnership builds unique connections between Sydney Rooster players and families. Players including Angus Crichton, Victor Radley and James Tedesco kicked off the initiative with family visits at Ronald McDonald’s Randwick House.  

Then COVID-19 hit Sydney hard, and the visits needed to quickly evolve. Regular Zoom calls from the Roosters’ NRL bubble have provided a well-received stopgap, although everyone involved looks forward to seeing each other again ‘in real life’. 

Simone Daher CEO RMHC Sydney, said, “The relationship that we have with Steggles and the Roosters has been an impactful one, especially in these times when families are even more isolated due to COVID-19 stay at home restrictions. 

Sydney Roosters player, Angus Crichton, with a family at Ronald McDonald’s Randwick House.

“We’ve seen first-hand that the players are genuinely connected with the kids, and we hear lots of laughter coming from the Zoom connections. Creating that kind of energy is hard over Zoom, but the players are naturally making these sessions fun and interactive. It’s great to see and hear. We look forward to when we can see them all back in the House again,” said Daher. 

The relationship also has a profound impact on the Rooster players and is no doubt especially meaningful when the team is so isolated in their bubble.  

“While some may think playing 80 minutes of professional footy is tough physically and mentally, it’s nothing compared to the strength the kids and their families have shown us,” said Roosters captain, James Tedesco. 

The recent $4.5 million tally is part of an overall $10 million raised by Steggles over the past 20 years which, in addition to Ronald McDonald House, has gone to Lifestart, the Children’s Hospital Foundation Queensland, the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia, Griffith Riding for the Disabled, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, Autism SA, the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Roosters Outreach program and more.  

The partnership between Steggles and the Sydney Roosters is a shining example of a corporate-lead community initiative that has been long and loyal, has achieved impressive fundraising impact and has made a very real difference to the communities they aim to help. As the NRL season nears its end for 2021, we hope the Roosters players can remember that no matter the final result, their biggest win is for children and families experiencing extraordinary challenges.  

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