The Bledisloe Cup rolled into town yesterday as part of the Australian Rugby Union’s (ARU) Bledisloe roadshow that gives school students and all members of the public the opportunity to view an old piece of historical silverware.
The Bledisloe Cup is contested by the Australian and New Zealand rugby union sides annually.
Students of St Laurence’s, Macquarie Anglican Grammar and South Dubbo Primary School had a interaction with the cup yesterday and were taken through drills and skills by ARU development staff.
The show then headed to No.1 Oval, home of the Dubbo Roos, to give all members of the public access to their program.
ARU retention manager Steve Frost said the main aim of the program, run every year in the two weeks leading up to the Bledisloe Cup, was to get kids involved in rugby.
“We use the trophy as a point of differentiation, it’s got historical value and gets the kids interested in what we’ve got to to say,” he said.
“The message that we want to give is that sport can open up a lot of opportunities and that’s not just at an international level.
“Primary school students are our target age group ... at this age they are still deciding what activities they want to be involved in.
Frost says he is aware that it’s not just a matter of turning up and the kids will play rugby union as a result.
“This is just one step in our recruitment process. We know we can’t come here and they will start to play rugby unless it’s already in their family culture, but we need to provide the opportunity for them,” he said.
For the first time rugby seven’s will become recognised as an Olympic sport at the 2016 Olympics and Frost said a big focus of the ARU’s recruitment was now girls.
“School girls currently in Years 7 and 8 will be 18 when those Olympics come around so they could potentially play in the next Olympics,” he said.
“They are a small market to start with and we’ve found girls involved with touch football are great candidates for women’s rugby because they’ve already got the basic skills there, they just need to learn how to tackle.”