As the applause started on Monday afternoon at the presentation for the NSW under 14s rugby union championships, Penny Fisher assumed it was for winners Penrith, or for runners-up Gordon, or just general cheering.
However, as she was called up to stage to be met by former Central West Rugby Union president Peter Veenstra, she knew something was happening.
“They got me good, it was a complete and utter surprise,” she said, recounting her reaction to being just the second person awarded life membership of Central West Junior Rugby Union.
Fisher was rewarded for the enormous body of work she’s compiled over more than a decade helping rugby in the Central West.
She said she was honoured by the award but didn’t realise how she was seen by those around her.
“I don’t deserve it, I just do it for the kids,” she said.
And the final day of another successful state championships at Endeavour Oval was the perfect occasion, surrounded by junior rugby players from all over the state.
She said the carnival had been “absolutely amazing” and – as she does every year – looked forward to seeing some of the names in her notes or registrations make their way into higher levels of rugby, as her own children did.
Fisher said praise for the running of the tournament – which abounded around Endeavour Oval all weekend – was one thing that made her pleased.
“It is always good to hear that feedback, and it’s good for Orange. Parents are receptive and you get feedback from Sydney parents that they actually look forward to this weekend as it brings the whole family together,” she said.
“I love rugby, watch the game, develop the game, the politics sometimes gets a bit much but it’s the kids.”
Veenstra, who presented the award and is the only other life member of Central West juniors, said Fisher was integral to the sport in the region.
“She’s done so much,” he said.
“I’ve worked with Penny for a long time, the whole time she was involved with Central West juniors, competition manager and registrar, gone from using faxes to emails, that’s how long she’s been here.
“Without people like Penny, junior rugby just doesn’t happen.”