‘Classic’ Wallabies put on clinic in Blue Lake city

Adam Freier, Ethan Norman, Jasmyn Plew Jones, Kho Kho Noah, Kerran Wingard Dsc 0809  TBW Newsgroup

Reece Cowling Dsc 0834 TBW Newsgroup
ON THE RUN: Reece Cowling searches for a try during the Goldblooded Tour at Mount Gambier High School last Thursday.

MOUNT Gambier High School students were lucky enough to be introduced to Rugby Union by none other than two Wallabies greats.

“Classic” Wallabies Adam Freier and Matt Cockbain shared their wisdom and experiences about the game to the youngsters during the South East stop of the Goldblooded Tour.

The tour is a two-month long program which winds its way around country Australia to help promote the game ahead of this year’s World Cup in Japan.

In addition to the once-in-a-lifetime experience, students also received the opportunity to hold “Bill”, the Rugby World Cup trophy won by the Wallabies in 1999.

Cockbain was a member of the triumphant campaign 20 years ago in Wales and played 63 games from 1997 to 2003.

Freier wore the Wallabies jumper 25 times from 2002-08 and represented the country at the 2007 World Cup.

The tour enabled around 30 Mount Gambier youngsters a first taste of the English contact sport.

To commence the clinic, the national players gave a brief introduction of the rules and techniques, followed by commencing a range of simple skill-based drills and games.

Mount Gambier High School sports coordinator Kerran Wingard said it was rewarding to receive strong numbers at the tour and give the students a memorable experience.

“To get these sorts of numbers and them (the Wallabies) to come down here to Mount Gambier on really short notice, is exceptional,” he said.

“The kids recognise there is some importance in it and the fact they have some Australian Wallabies down here just adds to it.

“To have the World Cup trophy on display and get a photo with it is also something pretty special.”

Wingard said it was pleasing to see a strong female participation at the rare event.

“To even have some females out here and give them an opportunity to participate in this sport is fantastic,” he said.

“It is an amazing opportunity we often would not have down here.”

Wingard said the clinic was a nice way to introduce the students to a unique sport in the Australian Rules dominated region.

“These kids are born and breed playing AFL and soccer,” he said.

“So to have another sport come to town offers something a little bit different.

“Just looking around you see the smiles on the kids faces – they absolutely love it.”

Wingard said the skills learnt at the Goldblooded Tour can be transferred into the participants’ chosen sports, despite the foreign nature of some aspects such as tackling and passing.

“We have focused on ball movement because a lot of our kids grew up in forward moving sports and in rugby the ball must be passed backwards,” he said.

“A lot of our kids don’t necessary understand and it is just a foreign movement to them.

“It is similar in tackling.

“In rugby you go in low and try to get them onto the ground, as opposed to Aussie rules where it is up high and try and pin the arms.

“Some of these new skills they learn today can be transferred back into their own sport.”

After the positive experience, Wingard did not rule out the possibility of a future rugby union program for the school, but said significant work and interest is needed for it to come to fruition.

“Never say never,” he said.

“I think it would be a wonderful thing if we can expand our sporting programs, but that comes down to teacher knowledge, skills and expertise in those areas.”