When someone mentions third grade rugby in the Blowes Clothing Cup, a certain image springs to mind.
It’s a picture of what is commonly known as “thirsty thirds”, a bunch of old-timers having a laugh and reliving the glory days before enjoying a few beers while the higher grades play.
And while much of that is true, the Dubbo Kangaroos were forced to have a serious conversation about third grade this season.
A lack of numbers had the side battling and the question was asked – should the proud Dubbo club pull the pin and tell Central West Rugby Union there won’t be a third grade team in 2018?
“We realised if we don’t make a commitment the club would not field a third grade side and that would hurt a lot of guys who enjoy their rugby and want to get involved with the club,” third grade player Jason Dearmer said.
“We couldn’t really field a side a couple of times early in the season and we got serious. We’re lucky to have such great people involved with the club though.”
Paul Elliott came on board as coach, club vice president Gerald Webster helped get more players involved and 2017 first grade Dean Matthews came in as a manager to also help things improve.
Things did get better and on Saturday the Roos’ third grade outfit is taking on Orange Emus for the right to play in this season’s grand final.
The same goes for the club’s second grade side, which is also taking on Emus at Bathurst in a preliminary final.
While the Roos’ first grade side failed to make finals, the club could still have a strong representation on grand final day at Orange’s Endeavour Oval on August 25.
The colts side is already in the decider while the second and third grade outfits have impressed at times this year.
“There’s a lot of energy in there and we’re all excited to be in the position we’re in,” Dearmer said of the club.
“Especially in thirds because for a while we were struggling to get the numbers and a lot of people have stepped up and committed.”
Both second and third grade sides suffered defeat to Emus in the final round of the regular season.
The second grade outfit had beaten Emus on both prior occasions this season but went down 39-14 last time out, while Dearmer and his third grade side was beaten 29-10 that day.
The Dick Leach-coached second grade side heads into the game having suffered a major semi-final loss to minor premiers Bathurst Bulldogs last weekend.
The Roos, after finishing second, lost 31-10 while Emus eased past Forbes in last weekend’s minor semi-final.
The third grade clash between Roos and Emus is at 11.20am at Ashwood Park on Saturday while the second grade game is at 1.40pm.