In The Armidale School’s 125th anniversary year we are delighted that former Wallaby and TAS Old Boy James Holbeck (83-90) will join us as our special guest. A former professional rugby player who wore the green and gold in seven tests between 1997-2001, James is a humorous and insightful speaker, writer, mentor and coach, with a special interest in building resilience and mental health.
The biggest name in Australian rugby is set to inspire a thousand of the sport’s youngest enthusiasts when he makes a special guest appearance at the 14th TAS Rugby Carnival, to be held at The Armidale School on 14-15 April.
Wallabies Head Coach Michael Cheika will be the special guest at the official presentation on Sunday 15 April at 12noon, following the finals that morning.
Cheika will celebrate grassroots rugby with players, coaches and supporters attending the carnival – the largest rugby carnival for under 12s in Australia, which this year has attracted44 teams from 21 schools and 16 clubs from across three states. Cheika won’t be the only one making a debut appearance at the carnival; crossing the continent will be the Perth-based Western Spirit, one of three teams competing for the first time.
Others to make the big trip include players, coaches and supporters from Dalby and the Sunshine Coast in the north, to the NSW Southern Highlands. From 16 teams at the inaugural carnival in 2005, the carnival has grown to include city teams including well-known Sydney and Brisbane school and club rugby nurseries and junior clubs including Moree, Inverell and Tamworth from the New England North West region.
Over the two days, 108 games of rugby will be played on eight school ovals, which have been proudly prepared by TAS grounds staff over recent weeks. There are five divisions, based on teams of similar ability. A highlight of each carnival is the Spirit of Rugby relay, a foot race comprising four players from every team running the length of the school’s Backfield.
Among those who have attended as either special guests or in a private capacity as parents, are former Wallaby greats Nick Farr-Jones, Paddy Ryan, Phil Kearns, John Eales and Rod Kafer, and former Rugby Australia CEO Mr Bill Pulver who was the special guest in 2014.
Carnival convenor Mr Will Caldwell said the continued popularity of the carnival is testament to a universal love of the game, the camaraderie of the sport, and the sense of community it engenders.
“For many players this is their first time away on tour and that is exciting in itself, creating lifelong memories. It provides the rare opportunity for school and club teams to come together in a friendly atmosphere, and also reflects the enormous spirit of our wider school community who work incredibly hard to make it happen so smoothly,” he said.
The first division grand final between two Sydney club teams was a reprise of last year, but it was the Moree Junior Bulls who took out the most prestigious award at the largest under 12s rugby carnival in Australia this weekend (8-9 April).
The Junior Bulls won the ZOO Team of the TAS Rugby Carnival Award for sportsmanship on and off the field as voted upon by all teams – an award they received at the very first carnival in 2005.
The two day carnival, which attracted 45 teams from as far as Dalby and the Sunshine Coast to the NSW Southern Highlands who played 114 games of rugby over the weekend, wrapped up with the spoils shared between club and school teams.
As was the case last year, in the Division 1 grand final Sydney Southern Districts defeated Gordon Highlanders (28-17). St Andrew’s, Noosa, won the play-off for Division 2 against The Southport School (ranked 5th in Division 1). St Ignatius’ College Riverview Blue defeated Cranbrook School in the third division whilst the The King’s School came out over Central Coast Grammar School in Division 4 and Gordon Tartans took out Division 5 over Scone Grammar School.
The previous afternoon, former Wallaby Warwick Waugh – attending his third tournament as a father – and NSW Waratah Matt Sandell entertained participants, signed paraphernalia and shared some wisdom from their experiences.
“This carnival is the DNA of rugby – when senior rugby is so fractious, there is no more important time to have grassroots rugby opportunities such as this,” Waugh said.
He urged participants to take develop passion and pride in the sport.
“When I ran on for Australia, I was running on for Gulargambone, The Scots College, Randwick, New South Wales, and every team I had ever pulled the boots on for – as well as my mates who were not lucky enough to be able to run on with me. I’m sure there are a few future Wallabies here today and I want you to remember that tournaments such as this, grassroots rugby, is what it is all about. And you also have to enjoy everything the game brings you. You’ve got to love the good times when you score the tries, and you’ve got to love and suck up the times when you get smashed – that’s what developing passion for your sport is all about.”
“It’s been an amazing weekend for rugby and been very exciting for us to be able to bring together so many people from near and far to come together and celebrate what is best about the sport,” said carnival convenor and Director of Co-curricular Will Caldwell.
“Warwick and Matt really inspired the players with their reflections and it was a privilege to be part of such an event.”
Two Sydney teams battled it out in the final of the top division, but it was a Queensland school that took home the most coveted award when the largest primary-aged rugby carnival in Australia, hosted by The Armidale School, wrapped up on 19 April.
For the second time at a TAS Rugby Carnival, Matthew Flinders Anglican College of Buderim, Queensland, won the BLK Team of the Carnival that recognises good spirit and sportsmanship on and off the field. One hundred and five games of rugby were played over the weekend, with Sydney club team Gordon Highlanders defeating Scots College Prep 1 by 19-5 in the main division one final.
Waverley College Blue won the second division while Cranbrook School took out third division, both determined by overall points.
After sunny and warm conditions on Saturday, light rain on Sunday did not dampen the spirits of the 850 boys and girls from 42 teams who had travelled from as far as the Sunshine Coast and the NSW Southern Highlands for the 11th annual fixture.
General Manager Rugby Development at NSW Rugby Union Adam Crane and Australian Rugby Union General Manager Pathways & Performance Ben Whitaker attended the carnival and paid tribute to organisers and spoke with players and parents about pathway opportunities.
At a ‘Q&A’ session after the official opening on Saturday afternoon former Brumbies and Wallabies player Rod Kafer, who had a son playing in the carnival, offered inspiring advice to participants, sharing his story about how his drive to succeed came out of suffering from diabetes, and how he then battled injuries three years his initial selection in the Wallabies.
“I gave myself a goal to play one game from my country. Eventually after being injured and injured and injured for four years I had my first chance to play in 1999, and getting to that point I then had the opportunity to run out in front of a world record crowd, and singing the national anthem for my country was the most amazing experience of my life,” he said.
“Boys, there will be things in life that will challenge you – disappointment, non-selection, injury, things going wrong on and off the field – and your challenge to become a Wallaby is to learn how to deal with it and keep getting better. Every time you train, every game you play, every opportunity you get in rugby, you just have to get a bit better – and by the end of it, you might just end up a Wallaby.”
Among others attending the carnival in private capacities were Australian Rugby Union President David Crombie and tennis great Tony Roche, but supporting grandsons from the sidelines.
A new initiative was the Spirit of Rugby Relay, a spectacle watched by 1000 supporters. The only time during the carnival when all teams are competing on the one field, the event comprised of four runners from each team, with Ambrose Treacey College Blue team (formerly Nudgee Junior College).
TAS Director of Co-Curricular Will Caldwell said the carnival has always been about young people “having fun, experiencing rugby and meeting people in a carnival atmosphere,” Director of Co-curricular Will Caldwell said.
“Junior boy and girl rugby enthusiasts and their supporters come together in a spirit of goodwill and camaraderie, to share in all that is good about rugby and develop relationships both within and across teams.”
AN exciting game between two Queensland school teams wrapped up The Armidale School Rugby Carnival yesterday (Sunday 13 April), with The Southport School defeating Sunshine Coast Grammar two converted tries to one.
The Division1 grand final game was the culmination of two days of exciting rugby for 1000 boys and girls from 49 teams who had travelled from as far as the Sunshine Coast and the NSW Southern Highlands.
Two Brisbane school teams faced each other in the Division 2 final, with St Laurence’s College defeating Nudgee Junior College.
In third division, Tudor House Preparatory School from Moss Vale went down to St Aloysius College from Sydney, but Tudor House was more than compensated by taking out the main award of the day, the BLK Team of the Carnival which recognises good spirit and sportsmanship on and off the field.
The autumn colour of New England and sunny and mild conditions provided a perfect backdrop for the event, which is the biggest under 12s rugby carnival in Australia. At Saturday’s official opening, ARU boss Bill Pulver held up a signed Wallabies jersey he presented to TAS and urged the 1000 young players to “dare to dream”.
“With players from such a wide area and from some great clubs and schools, I’m quite sure some of you here will one day play for Australia. When you wear a Wallabies jersey it will change your life.”
The Tamworth-born executive said the inaugural Junior Gold Cup competition had been an outstanding success in providing a pathway for the game across Australia. Mr Pulver praised carnival organisers for the smooth running of the carnival and the “magnificent” state of the playing fields.
“You have thanked the ARU, but really it’s the ARU that should be thanking you for staging this magnificent carnival that showcases everything good about our game,” Mr Pulver said. “Thank you also, to the parents for introducing your sons and daughters to a game that will create relationships they will carry with them throughout life, and values that they will hold for life – passion, integrity, respect and solidarity. “
TAS Director of Co-Curricular Jason Lincoln said the carnival’s success was due to the contribution of a cross-section of the TAS and Armidale communities which rallied together to create something memorable to an estimated 3000 visitors from a large section of eastern Australia.
(1) ARU CEO Bill Pulver with young rugby enthusiasts Lachie Meakes and Thomas Scott from his old school, Shore, Will Benham from the Tamworth Tri-colours and Michael Paull and Hamish Moore from TAS at the official opening of the TAS Rugby Carnival on Saturday. (This photo courtesy pixonline.com.au)
(2) Jason O’Keefe goes over the line for TAS in a Division 2 game against Tudor House.
(3) Tudor House players celebrate being awarded the BLK Team of the Carnival award.
For more information on this release contact Tim Hughes on 0409 662 420
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