On any given day you can sit out the front of the Warren post office and watch semi-trailer load after semi-trailer load of sheep and feed truck down the Oxley Highway in this quiet rural town on the Macquarie River.
There’s wool and cotton as far as the eye can see.
But on Tuesday there was one convoy carrying something a little different down the main street of Warren.
The NSW Country Rugby Union (NSWCRU) Championships will be staged in the tiny Orana town this weekend, with as many as 1000 people set to bombard the home of the Pumas come Caldwell Cup kick-off on Saturday.
And on those semi-trailers mid-week?
“We’ve just had four loads of grandstands arrive from Narromine,” Western Plains Rugby Union vice president Greg Whiteley said.
“This is a really unique weekend for us.”
Unique is probably an understatement.
In 65 years of country week, never has the Western Plains zone hosted the country championships, which incorporates the Caldwell Cup and Richardson Shield for open men’s sides from across the state as well as colts and women’s sevens titles.
The Western Plains board knew their opportunity to host the event was coming after, nearly a decade ago, the decision was made to share the championships around NSW Country’s nine zones.
Western Plains is the final zone in that rotation and Whiteley, also a board member for NSW Country Rugby Union, said there was initially some trepidation about such a massive event landing in Warren, roughly an hour north of Dubbo.
“We were wary about accommodating 600 to 1000 people, but it was offered to us and we took it by the teeth instead of moving it to Dubbo,” he said.
“There’s less than 2000 people in the village, but we’ve got a tent city for the participants and all the motels and the caravan parks within 80 kilometres of us are all booked out.
“The weather, while not real good for the agriculture here, it’s on our side for the rugby.”
And that’s what Warren will be all about this weekend – the rugby.
Virtually the entire town will be at Victoria Park to both watch the matches but more importantly help ensure the two-day carnival goes swimmingly.
Whiteley has no doubts, though, and he expects the spirit of country rugby to be in full swing.
“We all know what happens on the field is only a very small part of country rugby,” he said.
“This has been in the planning for two years with a small dedicated committee that’s planed it all. We’ve got over 150 people helping us during the two days.
“The thing will be, everyone wants to, firstly, go away from the event seeing some good rugby and, secondly, the camaraderie of bush rugby is unique, especially west of the mountains, and that only gets stronger the further west you go. That’ll make these championships pretty special for us.”
The action kicks off at 9.20am on Saturday.
The story All roads lead to Warren as Western Plains gets primed to host first championships first appeared in the Daily Liberal.
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