RUGBY.com.au's Stu Walmsley honoured with major award for Bush Beat series

by RUGBY.com.au staff

The stellar work of RUGBY.com.au photojournalist Stu Walmsley was recognised with a major Australian sports journalism award on Thursday night in Sydney.

Walmsley won the Sports Australia Media Award for Best Regional, Rural and Suburban Sports Coverage, primarily for his outstanding "Bush Beat" series of 2019.

RUGBY.com.au was also one of four nominees in the "Best Contribution to Sport via Digital Media" category, which was taken out by the Herald-Sun's "Sacked" podcast series.

I'm as stoked as this kid from Brimbank juniors after picking up the gong for best regional, rural and suburban coverage at the @sportaus Media Awards in Sydney last night. Commissioned by RUGBY.com.au and Rugby Australia, I spent much of 2019 telling the stories of the unsung heroes who keep rugby alive in the bush and suburbia. As they endure drought, bushfires and other apocalyptic weather, sporting clubs are an important part of the glue which holds our regional communities together, and it's rewarding work to acknowledge the volunteers who ensure their survival. Thanks must go to @adam_freier and @iainpayten at RUGBY.com.au for believing in the value of regional and community content. To shine a light on the compelling and crucial work being done by those in clubland around Australia, there has to be resources allocated and a platform on which to publish. An open brief to 'just go and find great yarns' is every journo's dream, and I am grateful for their trust. The small team at RUGBY.com.au work incredibly hard to cover, not only the Wallabies and Super Rugby, but the code's developing and semi-professional teams. Their content is crucial in lifting the profile of women's rugby, our junior squads and Rugby Australia's development programs, and their efforts were also recognised last night with a nomination for best contribution to sport via digital media. Lastly, I'd like to thank all the people in the rugby clubs I've visited across Australia over the past four years. Irrespective of what was happening in the game at a national level, the welcome was always unwavering, and I've absolutely loved the time I've spent in your clubhouses, on your sidelines and watching your boat races. Yours in rugby, Rainbow Stu (thanks, kurtley_beale). #community #bush #regional #rural #partofmore #award #rugby #juniorrugby #rugbyunion #Australia #team #australia #sport #community #lifestyle #recreation #fitness #rugbygram #health #juniorsport #smile #BucksNation #light #sun #beach

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In a room full of Australian sports journalism's biggest names, Walmsley was a popular winner for his work in telling the stories of rural and regional rugby clubs, and how sport plays a vital role in uniting communities hammered by drought.

Walmsley spent 2019 travelling across the country to find the stories that don't get told, from WA to Tasmania, into North Queensland and the Northern Territory, and through rural NSW, South Australia and Queensland.

His stories have been among the most popular on RUGBY.com.au in 2019 - Walmsley's feature on Ben McCalman's mysterious retirement was the site's most read story for the year - and have allowed some incredibly important issues to be aired in the rugby community.

Walmsley, who is currently working in the USA, posted a message of thanks on Instagram. 

"Commissioned by RUGBY.com.au and Rugby Australia, I spent much of 2019 telling the stories of the unsung heroes who keep rugby alive in the bush and suburbia," he wrote.

"As they endure drought, bushfires and other apocalyptic weather, sporting clubs are an important part of the glue which holds our regional communities together, and it's rewarding work to acknowledge the volunteers who ensure their survival.

"I'd like to thank all the people in the rugby clubs I've visited across Australia over the past four years. Irrespective of what was happening in the game at a national level, the welcome was always unwavering, and I've absolutely loved the time I've spent in your clubhouses, on your sidelines and watching your boat races."

In case you missed any of his incredible tales, we're taking a look back at all the stories Walmsley has produced as part of his country-wide series this season.

Here is a selection of some of the best yarns and just a tiny fraction of Walmsley's beautiful pictures, too


"He just disappeared": Wallaby veteran Ben McCalman on why he walked into the sunset

Bush Beat: The fighting spirit that has kept Braidwood Rugby alive after 130 years

Bush Beat: Green tears for Kade as a lost mate creates a lasting legacy in Barossa rugby

Bush Beat: Walgett's plan to keep rugby alive amid devastating drought

Bush Beat: Rugby, resilience and the inspiring school of hard Knox

Bush Beat: How a Bloody Slow Cup helped heal a grieving community

Bush Beat: How South Aussie rugby helps roaring Riley tackle autism’s challenges

Bush Beat: South Australia's Super Cooper marks 50 years in coaching

Bush Beat: Family values at the core of Casey Crusaders' rise

Bush Beat: Why roller derby is helping girls' rugby thrive in North Queensland

Bush Beat: How one brother's recovery led to a Sinclair triple treat

Bush Beat: Ballarat Rugby looks to the past to forge a bright future

Bush Beat: How gold medals and family rugby days helped Albury steam back to life

Bush Beat: The Tassie rugby minnows showing the fight of a marlin