A host of former Waratahs, including Tamworth’s own Paddy Ryan, added some star power to what was the biggest-ever Nick Tooth Memorial Rugby Tens.
Held in memory of the much-loved Quirindi Lion, this year’s tournament – which was hosted by Eastern Suburbs, who Tooth played colts for – saw a record 20 teams battle it out for “Toothy Tens” glory, and thousands more flock to Woollahra Oval on Saturday.
“It was extremely successful, we probably didn’t anticipate the number of people we had there,” Tooth’s sister Alexandra said.
“There were over 2000 people. Easts reckon it was one of biggest days they’ve had down there.”
The hosts lifted the trophy for the second time after defeating the Walcha Maggot Taxis in the final.
It’s the first time Walcha has fielded a side in the tournament.
“We had a great time down there. It was a really good atmosphere,” Rams secretary Henry King said.
“I reckon Toothy would have been pretty proud of it all.”
He said making the final did exceed their expectations, although they knew with their speed and the talent of their backline that they would be pretty competitive.
As they proved to be.
“We beat a side with a few Waratahs and Wallabies in it there at one stage,” he said.
The side he was referring to was Ryan’s Galloping Galloways.
The star-studded outfit also included the likes of Tom Carter, Dean Mumm, Pat McCutcheon, Graydon Staniforth, Jeremy Tilse and former Welsh international Ben Evans.
“They (Walcha) were good,” Ryan said, adding jokingly that they “didn’t hold back on an old Pirates guy.”
It’s the first time he has played in the tournament, and he thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I think it is a brilliant exhibition of rugby and what a legacy to leave,” he said.
He said it sums up what rugby is about – playing with your mates and enjoying a few drinks afterwards.
”It’s a testament to his family as well because they’ve really kept that legacy going,” he said.
“I think Alex in particular has been pretty impressive.”
Ryan has been doing some work with her through the NSW Positive Rugby Foundation, which the Nick Tooth Foundation has partnered with, along with batyr to tackle mental health.
He is an ambassador for batyr, and is also on the committee for the Country arm of the NSWPRF, which is the official charity of the NSW Rugby Union.
“We’re going to try and deliver a roadshow of rugby and raise mental health awareness in late November,” Ryan said.
“It’s called the Get Talking tour and we’re going to be heading out through Western NSW.”
They’ll be visiting schools and running mental health clinics.
Moree and Narrabri are among the towns on the tour itinerary.
Established to ‘raise awareness around player safety and wellbeing’ and ‘assist in the prevention of brain-related injury’, the Toothy Tens is the major fundraising event for the Nick Tooth Foundation.
Alex said they didn’t yet have final figures on how much they raised but it was looking like around $100,000.
“We’ve done unexpectedly well,” she said.
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