And Rugby Was The Winner Once Again

2018 20 The Warren ComplexI was invited by The Rogue to accompany him and two other Rugby Tragics on a road trip to Warren to attend the Country Rugby Union Championships, which were held in Warren on Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29. I readily accepted. The Rogue, as most of you are aware is the anonymous author of much of what appears on the IDRU website. To avoid pressure on the three of us who accompanied him, to reveal his closely guarded identity, it is probably best that we assume pseudonyms as well. I will call us The Stork, Colonel Klink and Danny Boy. Rather than discuss in detail the excellent performance of our Illawarra Teams, which will no doubt be covered elsewhere by others, I will instead try to provide some insight into other aspects of the weekend from a supporter’s point of view.

The Rogue, who admits to having a fairly cavalier attitude to punctuality, arrived for my 9 o’clock pickup promptly at 9.45 on the Friday morning, with The Colonel and Danny Boy ensconced safely in the back seat. I hopped into the front seat with The Rogue driving and we were on our way.

I will point out at this stage that the many kilometres we covered over the next four days were particularly enjoyable because I had had the foresight to bring a collection of Jazz C.D’s including one of my own modest offerings on the piano, containing 33 tracks of seldom heard early classics. The boys couldn’t find the words to express their appreciation. To make it even more enjoyable I turned it into a competition in which they had to guess the titles of these old songs. The Rogue won with six. The Colonel got two and Danny Boy none, probably due to his hearing problem. A weak effort all round I thought.

The plan for the trip was to have a sleepover at Dubbo on the Friday night on the way to Warren, Saturday night at Warren, then Sunday night again at Dubbo before arriving back in Wollongong on Monday afternoon. It all worked out well. The Rogue roomed with The Colonel and I roomed with Danny Boy. Apart from Danny Boy and I both being a little hard of hearing, which led to some repetitive conversation, we were very compatible. He liked the single bed; I liked the double bed. He liked to shower in the morning; I liked to shower in the evening. He liked making tea; I liked drinking tea. It was all good. I’m not so sure how the Rogue/Colonel combination went. The fact that the Rogue made a recording of The Colonel snoring, which he played back to us later, suggested to me that his experience of cohabitation with The Colonel probably left a bit to be desired.

2018 18 A real country crowdWe booked into our motel at Warren at 9.30 on Saturday morning. I noted a sign on the Highway as we approached Warren which stated, “The only town within 200 Kilometres with a bloke’s name.” I liked it already. The Carnival was to be held at Victoria Park which proved to be an excellent venue. Two well grassed fields surrounded by trees. Several outlets for refreshments, both liquid and non-liquid, much of the latter being home-made by the locals. For a town of under 4,000 the whole week-end was very well organised and well supported.2018 21 Tent City

The influx of about 600 players and officials associated with the Senior Teams, Colt’s Teams and Women’s Teams could not all be accommodated in Warren motels, so the organisers had created a “Tent City” of about 130 tents for players adjacent to the sporting complex, together with mobile shower and toilet facilities. Meals were provided in the Sports Centre. It looked like an excellent set-up. The Illawarra contingent was the only zone to not stay in Tent City. They had made the somewhat contentious decision to stay in normal accommodation in Gilgandra, a bit over an hour’s drive away. This was not well received by the organisers or the other zones. This decision was made, so I was told, because it was thought by Illawarra officials that Tent City could lend itself to the sort of partying for which rugby players are fairly well known. To my mind this would have been a good reason for staying there. They did come home with the Caldwell Cup however, which tends to weaken my argument. I reckon they could have done both, but none of the “party oriented” Illawarra Teams I played in won the Caldwell Cup so I concede I’m on fairly shaky ground. 

The matches on Saturday saw our Colts go down to Newcastle/Hunter but saw our Seniors victorious over Mid North Coast. The Senior match between Newcastle/Hunter and Central West on the Saturday afternoon was a cracker, probably the best match of the Carnival. Newcastle/Hunter were the Carnival favourites and got away to a good lead, but Central West gradually pegged them back and came away with a narrow win. The Rogue, The Colonel, Danny Boy and I finished off a great Day’s Rugby in the Warren RSL Club. We ran into one of the local coppers there, who used to play for Shamrocks. Small world. We then discovered that the Warren RSL Club also boasted a Chinese Restaurant. Mongolian King Prawns, Black Beer and sensible conversation. What could be a better way to end a great day? Well two out of three ain’t bad.

2018 15 Storky checks the cup with Takunda and CodyOn Sunday morning it was back to the Rugby where our Colts showed their true form with a good win over Central Coast. The Rogue then took us on a tour of Warren and surrounds. It didn’t take long. One main street surrounded by cotton. We then returned to Victoria Park to cheer Illawarra on in the Final against Central West. A great win for our lads. After the game, the Illawarra players, realising that they outnumbered their supporters by about ten to one were all very keen to have their photographs taken with us. You’ll see us in quite a few of them. That’s my story anyway.2018 19 In the crowd at Warren again

All that remained was for us to make our way home to the Gong. Overnight at Dubbo. Another meal at the RSL and off to bed. Our 7.00 am departure next morning took place on the dot of 7.45 which had us in Orange for lunch. From there to Wollongong was a quiet trip, only punctuated from time to time by the Colonel’s frequent enquiry “Are we there yet?” Eventually we were, arriving in Wollongong to the dulcet tones of Ella Fitzgerald, supported by Louis Armstrong in their jazz classic, “Can’t we be friends?” A nice note on which to end yet another very enjoyable Rugby Trip.

THE STORK.

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