Rugby youngsters flocking to Armidale

HUNDREDS of young rugby enthusiasts will be descending on the University of New England tomorrow for the annual New England Mutual Rugby Camp.

The camp is recognised as the largest residential rugby camp in the country and has this year seen a significant pick-up in participants with around 300 kids registered.

“We’re about 15 per cent up on last year,” camp coordinator Paul Schmude said.

“Our older age group has definitely picked up.”

There’ll be about 60 14-16- year-olds, which is about double what they had last year.

“It’s been probably our lightest age group until this year,” Schmude said.

Most of the campers will move in tomorrow afternoon, and after registration or “an hour of chaos” as Schmude puts it, they will be getting straight into it.

The 11-16-year-olds will be in camp from tomorrow to Wednesday. The 8-10-year-olds have two days and move in on Tuesday.

The camp has attracted players from as far away as Perth and Darwin, and right down the eastern seaboard.

“We had Darwin kids about four or five years ago,” Schmude said.

“They’ve got three or four kids this year.  Their dads are also coming to help coach.”

The increase in participants has meant they’ve also had to increase the number of coaches.

Including the Australian Rugby Union development staff, there’ll be about 25-30.

New NSW Waratahs assistant coach Nathan Grey will be one of the many coaches lending their expertise.

He’ll be there on Tuesday.

Grey is back at the Waratahs this season and will be the defensive coach after working with the Melbourne Rebels.

There’ll also be a couple of Waratahs players drop in on the final day of the camp.

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