IT’s regarded as the biggest residential rugby camp in the country and this week’s New England Mutual National Rugby Camp in Armidale has attracted participants from near and far.
As far away as Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and even Perth and Darwin.
Cooper and Thomas Boath, Dirk Lawrie and Adam Hollingworth have come down all the way from Darwin.
They all play for the Casuarina Cougars and have brought a couple of coaches along with them, with the Boath siblings’ dad Glen and Dirk’s dad Gus helping out as volunteer coaches.
The two have coached junior sides together at the club for the past five years.
Boath came across the invitation to attend the carnival and thought it sounded pretty good, both for the kids and for him and Lawrie.
“Part of it was to see how they (kids) measure up outside of their local environment,” Boath said.
“The other part was to give Gus and I some more ideas.”
They flew from Darwin to Sydney and then “did the scenic drive up” on Saturday.
Boath said the boys love their rugby and were enjoying their time at the camp.
“They’re having a good time,” he said.
“It’s (camp) fantastically run.”
Thomas plays blindside flanker, Cooper five-eighth/inside centre, Dirk five-eighth and Adam half-back.
The Cougars are one of six clubs in Darwin and have grades from U7s through to seniors.
Rugby though isn’t the boys’ only sporting passion.
“Our dominant code is Aussie Rules. All four boys are playing at the moment,” Boath said.
“We have our AFL season in the wet season.”
That used to be the rugby season too, but that is now played in the “dry” season.
The move seems to have had a positive effect.
“The junior side is growing well,” Boath said.
He believes part of the reason for that is that they’re not competing with AFL for players.
For siblings Jaedon and Ethan Peters the camp is the last stop on a trip that has taken them all the way from Perth.
“This is the last leg of a big vacation,” Jaedon said.
“We’ve been on vacation for five weeks.”
It was their dad Kent who heard about the camp.
“We were originally visiting our grandparents in Yamba. He found this camp in Armidale so we came here,” they said.
Kent is also helping out as a coach.
The boys have been playing rugby for about five years.
Jaedon is 13 and the oldest. He plays half-back.
Ethan is 11 and is a hooker.
Both said they were having fun.