The annual National Rugby Camp is on again at UNE bringing hundreds of kids, their families, and rugby professionals to Armidale.
The camp has been held in Armidale every year since 1980. The idea of the camps were the brain child of former Australian Wallaby and local John Hipwell who at the time was a teacher at The Armidale School (TAS). It is now the largest residential based rugby camp in Australia.
This year’s camp is being held at the University of New England (UNE), using the facilities of Sport UNE, and most of the older participants are staying in Albies college. Over 250 kids, aged from 8 to 16, and 40 staff are participating in the four day event this year.
Both girls and boys participate in the National Rugby Camp. The younger kids play together, while the 14-16 year old girls and boys have separate programs.
Camp director Paul Schmude says the annual camp was badly affected by Covid-19 disruptions.
“This is the first camp we have been able to hold since 2020.”
“We were all ready to go last year and then had to cancel everything about a week before the camp.”
Covid has also prevented them from being able to secure their usual number of high profile players as part of the camp, but there will still be plenty of experience training the kids. Former Wallaby and now commentator Morgan Turinui will be one of the stars on to the paddock on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mr Schmude said locals are welcome to come and watch the action as the next generation of rugby stars develop their skills.
“We’ll be playing at Bellvue Oval, next to Albies, and at Consett Davis [Memorial Playing Fields].”
“Absolutely people are welcome to come out and watch,” Mr Schmude said, adding that it’s a good idea to check the Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/nationalrugbycamps/, for any updates of where they are playing.