This weekend Tamworth should have been hosting the NSW Country Rugby Championships. With the tournament being cancelled, The Leader is looking back at the last time Central North and New England held the symbol of country rugby supremacy - the Caldwell Cup.
Today we reminisce New England's last success.
It is one of New England Rugby's greatest achievements.
On a glorious Easter weekend day in 1987, a largely-unheralded and predominantly-young Lions' outfit produced a stirring second half fight-back to beat arch rivals Central North 17-13 and ascend the summit of NSW Country Rugby.
The zones' first Caldwell Cup success since 1971, their triumph was as memorable for the result itself as the adversity they faced.
More than 30 years on, coach Charlie Belfield rates it the highlight of his time involved in rugby.
"Anything I ever did playing was totally overshadowed by these young men," he reflected.
"They were the most wonderful group of young men that I've ever had anything to do with."
Many of them would go on to be household names in the zone for years to come.
Their campaign got off to a bit of an inauspicious start.
The zone was at the time "at a bit of a low ebb", to the point where Belfield said they had decided they wouldn't fund the cost of sending a team to Country Week.
"I'd just got the side together and they (executive) said oh well you won't be going and I said 'like blazes'," Belfield said.
"We had a meeting of the fellas and they all wanted to go so we went and cut wood and had raffles and all sorts of things, and we funded ourselves."
It turned it to be probably a blessing in disguise, motivating and galvanising the group.
Belfield estimated probably three-quarters of them hadn't played for the zone before, but said their hearts were just so big and they just came together really well.
One of the cornerstones of their success was their defence.
He recalled their game against Newcastle first-up on the second day.
"They were pretty big hot shots," Belfield said.
"We had pretty good offence but our defence was just impeccable and poor old Newcatlse were so shell-shocked. I remember the backs were throwing hospital passes and they were fighting amongst themselves."
"And our blokes every time we nailed them they lost the ball and we were able to capitalise on it."
Going into the final against what was a formidable Kookaburras side, the Lions were a bit daunted.
"I can remember the last training the day before and they were as nervous as cats on a hot tin roof," Belfield recalled.
"The training was awful and I can remember saying c'mon fellas this is terrible, we better sit and have a bit of a yarn about this."
At that stage they still had about three-quarters of an hour of training to go.
"I said what we're going to do we're going to go flat out for 10 minutes, no dropped passes, everything's going to be slick and then we're going to go home and have a beer," he said.
"And that's exactly what they did."
He said in the first half they were still probably struggling a bit to come to terms with the task in front of them but they warmed to it in the second half, winger Damien Roff kicking three unanswered penalties to overturn a 13-8 deficit.
Belfield said it was a bit of a unique side.
Being a university town, they generally lacked forward strength. That year they were fortunate to have "two formidable props and a good hooker".
He particularly remembers Gus Heather, who was a Cook Islander.
"He was a mountain of a man, he could have held the scrum up on his own," he said.
While the Lions have failed to lift the silverware since, they have won the Richardson Shield. The last time was in 2012.