Australian rugby in recent times has been struggling – but there’s a future and the Northern Barbarians Junior Rugby club are doing everything to make that future as bright as it can be.
Formally known as Beecroft Cherrybrook Junior Rugby Club, the Barbarians have a proud and respected history dating back 50 years, having produced many respected rugby players, which have played for Australia.
In more recent times these players include Lachie Turner, Ben Robinson and Dean Mumm who went on to become a Wallaby Captain, making the club is a good breeding ground for playing at the highest level.
One of the many things that makes this club such a prolific breeding ground for future representative players is the celebrated international tour of New Zealand with a 37 year history where teams of Under 10s and Under 11s travel to New Zealand and get a taste not only of life across the Tasman but also the level of rugby they play.
The first tour dates back to 1980 and occurs every two years, with the next tour happening in 2018. It’s run in conjunction with the Northern Barbarians partner clubs in New Zealand – the Ruawai Rugby Club in the far North Island two and a half hours north of Auckland, as well as Pakuranga Rugby Club in Auckland City and Papakura Rugby Club in South Auckland.
The tour’s goal is not necessarily represented in the results of the matches played as it’s more about developing lifelong friendships.
When asked about the key to this tour’s success, Ben Pollock who is a coach of one of the Under 10s team said: “It’s almost a coming of age thing as kids are spending time away from the family. The parents see that as a great experience and will continue to push their kids to do it.”
Not the sole focus
Robert Fynes-Clinton a current Under 16s player at the Barbarians and a player who’s been on this tour, believes that although he gained plenty of confidence in versing the “bigger boys”, he feels the tour created a stronger bond between the players, adding that “that in my team there were three boys who joined because of the tour and they’re still playing with me at Beecroft.
“Going into to the tour the kids were just in it for the trip but afterwards they realised they loved rugby and wanted to keep playing.”
Ben agrees that the tour is great for grass roots rugby, not least as it reduces fall-out numbers as rugby union participation rates struggle in comparison to league.
“It strengthens the club and stops us from losing players,” says Ben.
Respect for the great game
One of the reasons why this tour will continue to be such a success is because it allows the players and the coaches to discover a different perspective on rugby. Before each match, the New Zealand teams perform the haka.
Ben said: “They love it! The boys are all lined up arms around each other,” while Robert added that “it really built an atmosphere and was something very cool.”
The fact that these 10 and 11 year-olds are showing great respect for the New Zealand rugby tradition and for the Australian boys to stand as a team arms around each other and equally respect the tradition is what rugby union is all about.
Australian rugby as a sport needs to stop putting so much focus on the instant spectacle and focus more on influencing the up and coming generation to play rugby. A tour like this allows boys to become a much better rugby player – and also a much better person.
Brock Lyon is in his final year at school and wants to become a sports journalist. The Monthly Chronicle is training and guiding Brock, and is keen to foster writing and journalism in other aspiring journalists. For more, contact the Editor.
Be sure to get down to Pennant Hills Oval at 3pm on Friday the 14th and Sunday the 16th of July to support this great cause and watch some quality grass roots rugby when our young local boys line up against the two touring New Zealand clubs. Game on!