TAMWORTH and its soon-to- be-bulldozed Scully Park received the thumbs up from Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League Council officials after the completion of last week’s National Under 15 Schoolboy Championships.
10 teams from all over the continent played in the six-day schoolboy tournament, with Queensland Maroon winning the main championship with a victory over the second Queensland White 34-6, while Western Australia won the affiliated schools championship, for the John Allen Trophy, with a 22-14 victory over Northern Territory.
ASSRLC president Grant Edwards was delighted with the way the championships were played, on and off the field.
“We were very pleased with it all,” Edwards said.
“The facility, ground and excellent surface were very good.
“The organisation from David Gale, Josh Davis and Charles Bickersteth was very good.
“Their attention to detail was excellent – they dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s.
“There were a lot of local volunteers too who put their hands up to help out.”
The 2014 Under 15 national tournament was “a little different to normal” Edwards said in that it was originally slated for a Victorian venue but lack of a good-enough venue forced organisers to look elsewhere.
That’s where Gale came in.
The Tamworth schoolteacher, who heads up NSW Combined High Schools rugby league, put in a submission for NSW CHS and NSW Combined Independent Schools to co-host the national titles in Tamworth.
He then ensured the tournament was a major success for both players, officials, parents and spectators.
Edwards is certain many parents were delighted with the facilities and spectators would have been impressed by the standard of the football.
He believes the standard in the affiliated schools’ Pool B was up while the Pool A play was a high quality.
There was no end of major rugby league identities for a tournament where budding NRL stars were on show.
“Jarryd Hayne was the player of the carnival at the 2003 national championship,” Edwards said.
“NRL education and welfare officers Andrew Ryan and Nigel Vagana were also in Tamworth and held a player discussion night.
“There was also an information night for parents and what they can expect from the game.”
Canberra Raiders star Tom Learoyd-Lahrs was a guest speaker at the player dinner early in the week along with former Kangaroo star Wayne Pearce, who is now an NRL commissioner.
NRL officials Todd Greenberg and Andrew Hill also attended a week where referees also received extensive coaching from the likes of Steve Clarke and Matt Cecchin.
For Edwards, the national championships aren’t finished.
The Under 18 National Schoolboys titles start in Darwin on Sunday.
“They follow a similar pattern,” Edwards said.
“However we only have six teams there.”
The four teams who played in Pool B (affiliated states) in Tamworth have already played their Under 18 Championship in Adelaide (long weekend).
They have selected a side, Combined Afilliated States, to play in Darwin while Queensland only has the one side.
After that a national schoolboys’ team to go to England and France is picked.
Gale is one of two managers on that five-week tour of England and France.