New England Rugby Union is gearing up for a big season ahead, as we move into round one this Saturday, April 22nd.
Building off the back of an interesting competition last year, Director of Coaching for New England Rugby, Luke Stephen, expects a high quality performance across the board.
“New England has bounced back ok through COVID, so we are still saying the same number of teams across the grades, which isn’t the same story with team sports around the state.”
“It has been a disjointed preseason for some clubs, negotiating with Easter and the university holidays prior to the competition commencing, but we are looking forward to what should be a good competition over the next four and a bit months,” he said.
Taking to the field this weekend will be five first grade sides, represented by St Alberts, Robb College, Tamworth Magpies, Armidale Blues and the Barbarians, as well as six teams for seconds, thirds, ten and the popular women’s competition.
“Our women’s comp has gone from strength to strength. We have 6 clubs and we’ve grown in that time from 7 a side to 10 a side format.”
The women’s competition is being hailed a success story for the area and women’s sport.
“Last year our numbers spiked considerably.”
“We saw the zone compete in women’s 15’s for the first time on it own, and we had 5 ladies selected in NSW country, which is a huge achievement.”
“Its definitely been one of the highlights of the competition, and it is shaping up with just a good a competition with the ladies this year,” he said.
New England Rugby always promises change with a turnover of university students for the university teams, while Tamworth and Armidale will want to improve on last year’s performance, therefore round one is sure to attract some interest.
“No premiership is won this weekend, but each club wants to get off to the best possible start,” Luke said.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Head down and support your local sporting communities.
“Community sport is underpinned by those who come down and support, and this next couple of weeks with the weather nice, it should make for nice rugby,” Luke said.
“A great afternoon to bring your family and enjoy some high-quality football.”
Round 1 Games:
Tamworth Vs St Alberts Tamworth Rugby Park Glen Innes/Tenterfield V Barbarians Glen Innes Rugby Robb Rugby Club V Armidale Blues Bellevue Oval
Top image: action from last year’s New England Rugby final (Catherine Stephen)
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