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.”