This is just the beginning.
Following the Blue Bulls’ big showings at the NSW Country Rugby Union Championships and then a bumper, albeit “low-key”, awards night, Central West CEO Matt Tink is confident the region’s representative programs will continue to come along in leaps and bounds in future years.
Tink, along with Central West’s senior coaches, put a huge emphasis on bringing all the Blue Bulls’ squads together in the lead-up to country week and that paid dividends, bringing a “real sense of togetherness and pride in representing the region”.
“Hopefully that doesn’t stop, hopefully it keeps building next year and beyond,” Tink said.
“Blue Bulls head coach Dean Oxley really pushed the idea that all our representative teams are part of the same club, of sorts, and I feel a real sense that this is just the beginning for our representative programs.
“There is genuine excitement around the future of representative programs, and with so many good people in place that excitement is more than warranted.
“In the future we would love to incorporate all our junior teams teams into this as well, with genuine engagement with all our players from the under 12s all the way through to the Blue Bulls.
“The inclusion of the women’s 15s and sevens sides, as well as all the work the Central West junior committee has done to get the girls’ under-13, under-15 and under-17 up and running are really positive steps as well.
“The presentation dinner was a pretty low-key event, but the support in the room was immense.”
The Blue Bulls’ men and women’s sevens awards were handed out that night, at Orange City Bowling Club, as well the colts trophy winners, a stepping stone toward an all-inclusive night in the future in Tink’s eyes.
After being named player-of-the-tournament in Central West’s Caldwell Cup second finish, Forbes’ Mahe Fangupo was crowned the Blue Bulls’ best and fairest while West Wyalong’s Sharnah Stevens and Orange Emus’ Sam Greatbatch won the women’s and colts equivalents, respectively.
The other major award on the night was the Paul ‘Bear’ Smith Spirit of Rugby Award, presented in honour of the long-time Blue Bulls manager, which Forbes’ Tom Macleay won.
Dubbo’s Mark Baldwin was named the Blue Bulls’ best forward and Bathurst Bulldogs’ Harry Webber claimed the backs gong.
Orange City’s Nick Fisher won the colts best forward award, with Dubbo Kangaroos’ Pat Berryman named the Baby Bulls’ best back.
Tink also confirmed the rumour that Central West will be looking at an international tour next year, to continue building the standard around the region and create more interest in representing the Blue Bulls.
“We are hoping to organise a tour next year and some preliminary work is already under way,” he said.
“Whilst we understand that some aspirational players try their luck in the city, we still have many aspirational players in the Central West and my job is to ensure that the experience these players, coaches and officials have is a positive and rewarding one.”