Producing a stunning display of running rugby in front of a bumper Endeavour Oval crowd, the Classic Wallabies delivered in a big way on Saturday afternoon, downing a gallant Central West Barbarians side 44-21.
The Classic Wallabies, boasting more than 380 Test caps and over 1100 Super Rugby appearances combined, ran in eight tries to Central West’s three in an entertaining, spectator-friendly encounter, which capped off the group’s visit to Orange in style.
Classic Wallabies general manager and No.8 Stephen Hoiles crossed for a double in a huge showing as did De Wet Roos, while Patrick Phibbs, Morgan Turinui, Tom Carter and Beau Robinson all scored five-pointers as well.
But as Hoiles, a 16-Test veteran, said post-game, the result isn’t what really mattered.
“The idea of it is to be fun,” Hoiles said, although he did admit his side hadn’t come to Endeavour Oval to get beaten by the Blue Bulls legends.
“Obviously we want to win, it’s rather embarrassing if we don’t but we want a competitive side and they were, they were tough, it was played in good spirits and I think the crowd saw that.
”You look at the scoreboard and that’s the best score you can hope for.”
Hoiles went on to say the Central West Barbarians – a side with players from several Blue Bulls generations – impressed too, considering his Wallabies side had little idea what to expect.
“You just know you’re playing an over-35 side, so you’re relatively like-for-like,” he explained.
“We knew they’d have some players a little bit off the pace and some who are very good and can turn it on when they want to, pretty similar to us.
“We had variety, players who are 10 years retired players who one year retired, it’s a lot of fun. That’s probably what makes a lot of the entertainment.”
While the clash gave a number of the Central West side an opportunity to line up against their heroes, Hoiles explained it actually did the same for him and a few of his teammates. That’s part of the beauty of the Classic Wallabies concept, he said.
”I’d never played with Sam Payne, who was a Wallaby when I was a young boy, so that was very exciting,” Hoiles said.
“We brought in some young guys too. (Randwick’s) Finn Wright, he was an Australian Schoolboy and we brought him into the squad as part of a mentoring program we’ve developed.
“That’s what’s so unique about rugby, you share a dressing room and run onto the field with guys you’ve just met and there’s a unique bond in that.”
Hoiles was one of the pioneers of the Classic Wallabies concept, which provides a support network for players to transition into life after rugby and is focused heavily on developing the game at a grassroots level.
“It started from a pretty small idea,” Hoiles explained.
“It started as trying to get out and do a little bit more in the community. It started running a clinic at my kids’ school. Then we sort of took over from the Silver Foxes, which was with (former Orange Emus coach) Andrew Logan.
“It was like a passing of the baton. It’s about getting the guys together and being involved with the community and encouraging kids to become involved in rugby.
“We are very busy next year. We’re about to announce some events which I can’t reveal yet. We’ll also have a Japan World Cup tour in 2019 which people can come along to.”
The clash against the Blue Bulls legends was the main event on Saturday, following a curtain-raising Central West women’s trial and a clash between the Oilsplus Cup’s Northern and Southern Division representative sides.
The group ran a number of clinics in the lead-up, and one on Saturday morning that welcomed well in excess of 150 budding stars.
- CLASSIC WALLABIES 44 (Stephen Hoiles 2, DeWet Roos 2, Patrick Phibbs, Morgan Turinui, Tom Carter, Beau Robinson tries; Sam Payne, Mark Gerrard conversions) def CENTRAL WEST BARBARIANS 21 (Danny Flannery, Nik Granger, Shaun McHugh tries; Flannery 3 conversions)