Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Country New South Wales has a strong presence in the upcoming Stockman Rugby team, who will embark on their upcoming ‘For King and Country’ tour to the United Kingdom this coming October.

Stockman Rugby was founded in Longreach, Queensland, in 2013, and places a strong focus on fostering strong connections between grassroots rugby players from regional or isolated areas. The invitational side recently announced a player roster which heavily features players from town clubs in Northern New South Wales, including the Grafton Redmen, Narrabri Blue Boars, and Maitland Rugby Club and Hunter Wildfires.

Overall, 19 players from country New South Wales have been selected to represent the side in a tour which will see them come up against high-profile UK teams such as Cambridge and Oxford universities.

Led by former Wallabies and Queensland Reds attack coach Jim McKay, the side features a plethora of players with both grassroots and high-level rugby playing experience.

“There will be three pillars,” says Coach McKay on how Stockman Rugby will aim to optimise the success of the tour.

“We want to do well on the field, we want to develop [our players] to get better and the third pillar would be raising awareness for mental health.”

One of Stockman Rugby’s main values is the promotion and amplification of conversation surrounding men’s health issues such as suicide, depression, substance abuse and domestic violence, and the negative impact these issues have in country areas. Through group discussions, clinics and conversations, addressing mens health is an inseparable component of every Stockman Rugby program.

McKay insists that one of the main things that rugby focuses on is creating a sense of community.

“As an organisation or a club or a team, you want to have a sense of belonging,” he said.

“I’ve always tried to have a sense of care for the players.”

“What’s interesting is that [the players] all have different backgrounds and circumstances; they’ve all got a different story.”

“To provide that opportunity for a sense of national pride around representing an Australian Stockman’s team… with that, there will be a sense of belonging and a sense of pride. I just think it’s wonderful.”

The community aspect of the game is one which McKay believes goes hand in hand with the organisations overall goal to promote, discuss and destigmatise mens health, particularly in a rural setting.

“While the action on the field is important, this tour is also an opportunity to raise awareness around men’s mental health.”

“It’s about coming together as a group for a collective goal and leaving as better players and people,” Coach McKay said.

The upcoming tour will be the 5th time Stockman Rugby has embarked on a rugby-playing journey, with the side having previously played matches in New Zealand, Ireland, North Queensland, Perth, and Argentina.

Stockman Rugby hosts a number of high-profile ambassadors, including former wallaby John Eales AM, Australian 7’s star Demi Hayes and former Wallabies Greg Holmes, Guy Shepherdson, Mark Chisholm, and Michael O’Connor.

The upcoming tour will run from the 4th to the 25th of October.

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