One of the biggest Primary aged Rugby tournaments in Australia will take place this weekend in Northern NSW as around 1000 children aged between 11 and 12 years of age make their way to The Armidale School Rugby Carnival.
This year 48 school and Club teams from across NSW and Queensland will take part in the ninth annual carnival on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April with Qantas Wallabies and NSW Waratahs prop, Paddy Ryan making a guest appearance.
Born in Tamworth, Ryan is a local of the area where he will return to speak to players at the Carnival on Saturday evening.
The Tom Richards Cup, which the Qantas Wallabies and British & Irish Lions will compete for as part of this year’s Tour to Australia, will also be making an appearance, offering participants and spectators at the Carnival the unique opportunity to get up close and witness the trophy in all its glory.
The inaugural Carnival in 2005 had around 16 teams involved whilst today’s numbers heavily outweigh the town’s accommodation capacity, clearly demonstrating the Rugby event’s strong growth over the nine years. This year, teams will be accommodated in boarding houses at several Armidale schools.
The Carnival won last year’s Armidale Dumaresq Council Australia Day award for contribution to sports and recreation, recognising the event’s ability to turn over an estimated $3million for the Armidale economy every year.
Held across eight ovals at The Armidale School, the Carnival attracts players, their Coaches and families from locations as far as Orange and Sydney in NSW to the Sunshine Coast and southern Queensland.
School teams competing in the Carnival are from well-known Sydney and Brisbane Rugby nurseries, while Club teams are predominantly from northern NSW including Tamworth, Moree, Inverell, Lismore and Alstonville.
The event is supported by the Australian Rugby Union and their partner, KooGa. ARU have an existing partnership with The Armidale School to deliver the Junior Gold Rugby Development program in northern NSW, which aims to increase opportunities and participation in Rugby in Schools and Clubs across Australia.