Inverell rugby fans enjoyed a great day on Saturday with the Inverell Highlanders playing host to the Australian Deaf Rugby side.
They were in Inverell conducting a training and development weekend, which concluded with a match against the Highlanders.
Inverell first grade coach Dave Kearsey played alongside Paul Young in the Aussie Deaf side and said it was a great day for all involved.
“It ticked all boxes for me,” he said.
“Not only did my Highlanders boys get a good hit out as well as the Deaf side but I know both sides would have learnt a bit from each other.”
There was no official score kept during the game but Kearsey said he was happy to call it a draw.
“It was only a trial game so there were no conversions etc but the sides were very evenly matched and there was some exceptional rugby on the day.”
Due to bad weather there were some deaf players who couldn’t attend so some local Highlanders filled in for the game.
“Luke Thom, Bruce Wall, Steve Calman, Nath Barham and Talla Vea all joined the deaf side as some players couldn’t make it because of the flood waters, and they all played well.”
Kearsey said the game was played in good spirit and he was proud of the sportsmanship on display.
“The deaf boys were a more inexperienced side but played with a lot of heart and my Highlanders men showed great sportsmanship from start to finish.”
He was also very happy with the way the town of Inverell welcomed the deaf players.
“The deaf guys have been messaging me saying they absolutely love Inverell and the people of the town.
“The Inverell RSM Motel was fantastic and they said every last person even in the streets made them feel welcome.
“They have already approached me about making it a yearly event.”
The game was played in three 25 minute thirds, with the final section played as mixed teams.
“The last part was played with all odd number positions swapping jumpers and sides. This meant that Inverell men got an opportunity to play alongside the deaf guys and vice versa.
“This was important for Paul and I and the Highlanders boys all said it was a great experience”.”
When the game finished there were handshakes and smiles all round as the weather didn’t detract from a hard fought game of rugby.
“To see two such different groups of blokes all smiling and shaking hands after a tough hit out like that is fantastic.
“Play hard on the field then shake hands afterwards with respect earned through performance. No matter what your disability that is the essence of rugby and should be the same in all sports.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the way both sides carried themselves.”
Kearsey said the socialising carried on right through the night with the Aussie Deaf side attending the Rugby Ball.
“All the guys attended the ball and had a great time.
“They even took to the dance floor and everyone commented on the great night.”
The Australian Deaf Rugby side now have two more development weekends on the Gold Coast and in Melbourne to prepare for the test against New Zealand in Canberra in October.
“These development weekends are all about improving the player’s skills and gaining match experience and although they probably don’t realise it, my Highlanders men and the Inverell community as a whole has contributed in a small way to the result (hopefully a good one) against New Zealand.”
Highlanders president Damon Scoble commented on how the game was played in great spirits and was still a good physical encounter.
He said he was very happy with how the trial match and the Ball went.
“It was a huge weekend and great time was had by all,” Scoble said.
“Now we can settle down and get right into training and the windup to that first home game against Walcha on April 13.”