Tamworth oztag has reached a new golden zenith after players from the city were instrumental in the domination of Australian sides at the World Cup in Coffs Harbour.
Pam Potts, the development officer for senior oztag in Tamworth, said it was Tamworth’s best ever performance at the World Cup, held every three years.
“For the overall result and the number of players we had going away [‘24 or so’], it was definitely over and above any previous results that we’ve got,” she said. “So that's awesome.”
The World Cup featured teams from 30 nations including New Zealand, Great Britain, the US, Ireland, France, Japan, China and Samoa.
The grand finals of the four-day tournament were held at C.ex International Stadium. Australian sides featuring Tamworth players won women’s 21s (Tiarn Bayliss and Paris Knox); senior mixed (Tim and Tiff Walsh and Daniel Sullivan); women’s masters (Liz Thomas); and men’s masters (Garth Pennefather).
Brodii Ingram, a former Tamworth player now living in Newcastle, was a member of the winning women’s 21s.
Another Tamworth player, Jeff Faint, was part of the Irish team who won the men's 50s title.
Tamworth players were also involved in sides who lost in the grand final: girls 16s (Alina Swan, Indigenous Australia), and women's masters (Racheal Schmiedel and Libby Welsh, the Barbarian Invitations team).
Jacqui Jones, of Gunnedah, was a member of the gold medal-winning mixed seniors team.
Geoff Sharpe, who coached Kootingal-Moonbi to the first-grade minor premiership last season, was assistant coach of the winning men’s 45s Aussie team.
Two Tamworth referees officiated in finals – Tony Mumford (men’s open) and Ryan Schmiedel (mixed 21s). Andrew Green was a linesman in the men’s open final.
Pennefather said it was “an honour” to be selected for Australia again, especially for his first World Cup.
“They only come around every three years,” he said. “I might be getting a bit long in the tooth by the time the next one comes around.”