THE presence of Waratahs Kurtley Beale and Paddy Ryan made for a big finish to a very successful New England Mutual National Rugby camp.
This year’s camp was the biggest for a number of years, attracting over 300 young rugby enthusiasts from right around the country.
Beale and Ryan were there for the final-day activities and were real crowd-pleasers, camp coordinator Dave Schmude said.
He said their Facebook page went berserk with photos of them, and with kids and parents.
“It was great to have them there,” he said.
After arriving by helicopter, the two participated in a Q&A during the presentation for the older kids and then had a run-around with the younger kids with each coaching one of the U12 sides.
“It was great to listen to them,” Schmude said.
“Paddy spoke about his experience at the camp. He spoke about having as many experiences off the field as on it.”
He said the value of them coming up is huge, and having them on the last day really put a spring back in the kids’ steps after a big couple of days.
It was for Schmude and brother Paul too.
Schmude’s rugby commitments won’t end with the camp.
He is the coaching coordinator for Robb this season.
After last year coaching first grade, he will be taking on a more advisory and overseeing role this year, with Jim Boland and Sam Ditchfield teaming up to look after first grade.
Gordon Williams is returning after having a year off to coach second grade while Andrew Hall, who was Schmude’s assistant coach last year, will be player/coach for third grade.
“We’ve got a pretty good nucleus,” Schmude said.
“Out of firsts and seconds we should have 23 to 26 blokes back.”
“First grade we’ll get close to 13 boys back.”
Before last season they had had a huge exodus.
The players had some good time together at the end of last year, going on an end-of season tour to New Zealand.
“The tour was great for this year,” Schmude said.