WHEN Dean Woodham thought about bringing a team of young rugby enthusiasts across the continent for the annual junior carnival hosted by The Armidale School, the Western Beasts coach wasn't sure if it would be worth it.
However so good was their experience that a new crop of players will journey from Perth to join 50 other school and club teams this weekend at what will be the largest TAS Rugby Carnival ever.
"The carnival ignites that positive, happy energy you draw from such a magnificently run junior carnival and instantly ignites that electric feeling you get when playing rugby and being around all things rugby," he said.
"For junior rugby players to have an event of this nature at their age is unique and something that will be treasured and remembered by all, for life."
Now into it's 15th year, the carnival - the largest under-12s rugby tournament in the nation - continues to attract new teams, with Canberra Grammar School and Qld Samoa RFC making their debuts.
Also returning to TAS will be the special guest, former Wallaby and TAS Old Boy James Holbeck, who played seven tests for Australia between 1997 and 2001. Last year Holbeck was appointed Career and Pathways Manager for Classic Wallabies, a role jointly funded with Rugby Australia designed to offer specific support for players transitioning from their professional rugby careers into the next phase of their professional life off the field.
Holbeck will celebrate grassroots rugby with players, coaches and supporters and speak at a Q&A session on Sunday afternoon.
Carnival convenor Will Caldwell said the continued popularity of the carnival is testament to a universal love of the game, the camaraderie of the sport between school, club and rep teams from such a broad geographic area, and the sense of community it engenders.
Over the two days, 120 games of rugby will be played on eight school ovals, across five divisions.
A highlight of each carnival is the Spirit of Rugby relay, a foot race comprising four players from every team running the length of the school's Backfield.
"For many players this is their first time away on tour and that is exciting in itself, creating lifelong memories. It provides the rare opportunity for school and club teams to come together in a friendly atmosphere, and also reflects the enormous spirit of our wider school community who work incredibly hard to make it happen so smoothly," Caldwell said.
Ambrose Treacy College, Brisbane Qld
Bond Pirates, Gold Coast Qld (x2)
Caboolture Snakes, Caboolture Qld
Canberra Grammar School, ACT
Cranbrook School, Sydney NSW
Dalby Rugby Club, Qld
Gordon Junior RC, Sydney NSW (x2)
Highfields Redbacks, Qld
Highland Goats, Armidale NSW
Inverell Junior Rugby Club, NSW
Ipswich Rangers Rugby Club, Qld
Lismore Junior Rugby Club, NSW
Maroochydore Rugby Union Club, Qld
Matthew Flinders Anglican College, Buderim Qld
Moree Junior Rugby Club, NSW
Nudgee College, Brisbane Qld (x3)
Pacific Lutheran College, Caloundra Qld
Padua College, Brisbane Qld (x2)
Qld Samoa Rugby Club, Brisbane Qld
Saints Rugby Club, Peregian Springs, Qld
Scone Grammar School, NSW
The Scots College Prep School, Sydney (x2)
Shore School, Sydney NSW
South Toowoomba Kookaburras, Qld
Southern Districts, Sydney NSW
St Aloysius' College, Sydney NSW
St Ignatius' College Riverview, Sydney NSW (x2)
St Laurence's College, Brisbane, Qld
St Patrick's College, Strathfield, NSW (x2)
St Pius X College, Sydney NSW
Sunshine Coast Grammar School, Qld
Surfers Junior Rugby Club, Gold Coast Qld
Sydney Grammar Prep School, Sydney NSW
Tamworth Junior Rugby Club, NSW
The Armidale School, Armidale NSW
The King's School Preparatory School, Sydney NSW
Toowoomba Anglican School, Qld
Toowoomba Bears, Qld
Tudor House Prep School, Bowral NSW
Waverley College, Sydney NSW (x2)
Western Spirit Beasts, Perth WA
Wollongbar Alstonville Rugby Club, NSW