Classic Wallabies lock Warrick Waugh was one of games biggest players in his time, and the towering lock-forward is still leaving his mark on the largest under 12s rugby carnival in Australia - the TAS Rugby Carnival in Armidale.
Waugh, attending his third tournament as a father, and NSW Waratah Matt Sandell entertained participants and shared some wisdom from their experiences to the parents, teachers and players over what has become, one of Australia’s biggest schoolboy sporting weekends.
The two-day carnival, which attracted 45 teams from as far as Dalby and the Sunshine Coast to the NSW Southern Highlands, playing a total of 114 games of rugby over the weekend.
As was the case last year, in the Division 1 grand final Sydney Southern Districts defeated Gordon Highlanders (28-17).
St Andrew’s, Noosa, won the play-off for Division 2 against The Southport School (ranked 5th in Division 1) and St Ignatius’ College Riverview Blue defeated Cranbrook School in the third division.
The King’s School came out over Central Coast Grammar School in Division 4 and Gordon Tartans took out Division 5 over Scone Grammar School.
Watching on from afar former Randwick stalwart Waugh was inspired by the rugby, although urging the aspiring Wallabies to continue to develop passion and pride in their sport.
“This carnival is the DNA of rugby – when senior rugby is so fractious, there is no more important time to have grassroots rugby opportunities such as this,” - Warrick Waugh.“When I ran on for Australia, I was running on for Gulargambone, The Scots College, Randwick, New South Wales, and every team I had ever pulled the boots on for - as well as my mates who were not lucky enough to be able to run on with me.
“I’m sure there are a few future Wallabies here today and I want you to remember that tournaments such as this, grassroots rugby, is what it is all about.
“You also have to enjoy everything the game brings you. You’ve got to love the good times when you score the tries, and you’ve got to love and suck up the times when you get smashed - that’s what developing passion for your sport is all about.”
The carnival convenor and Director of Co-curricular Will Caldwell, was full of praise for Waugh and Sandell in their ability to share their views and drawing the rugby population in the bush closer.
“It’s been an amazing weekend for rugby and been very exciting for us to be able to bring together so many people from near and far to come together and celebrate what is best about the sport,” Caldwell said.
“Warwick and Matt really inspired the players with their reflections and it was a privilege to be part of such an event.”
The Moree Junior Bulls won the ZOO Team of the TAS Rugby Carnival Award for sportsmanship on and off the field as voted upon by all teams – an award they received at the very first carnival in 2005.