Over the weekend the historic Bloody Slow Cup was hosted in Newman, Western Australia commemorating the loss four local police officers Gavin Capes, Philip Ruland, David Dewar including Karratha-based pilot Donald Everett.
During the week leading up the Police Legacy remembrance ceremony and the marquee Bloody Slow Cup match the town of Newman put on a number of sporting events including Netball, Cricket and Touch Rugby matches and more all commemorating what is still the most significant loss of life in modern-day Australasian policing history.
Running alongside the lead up events RugbyWA sent a team of players, administrators and development staff to assist in the proceedings running Try RugbyRoos and upskilling sessions to the local community at schools and at the local junior rugby training facility.
Development officers joined by RugbyWA Senior Academy player Reece Anapu attended Newman Primary, South Newman Primary, Newman Senior High School and the Jigalong Remote Community School to deliver sessions to up to 400 regional students in the area and to the delight of staff more than 80 high school female students were involved in this year’s Try RugbyRoos delivery.
Full time RugbyWA Development Officer and lead on the Newman Regional Trip Sandy Mettam was blown away with the events surrounding the Bloody Slow Cup and spoke about how the interest in rugby from both boys and girls up in the area could be a catalyst for big things in the future.
“What we noticed when we arrived at Newman Primary is that the classes were predominantly female and we found that the girls were really into the game so much so that they wanted to participate to the next level,” Mettam Said.
“Following on from that we ran contact and tackle technique sessions requested by the high school and while setting up we again were surprised to see a constant stream of girls coming out and wanting to give rugby a go.”
“It was amazing out of the 100 student we interacted with that day nearly 80% were girls and they loved it, in their boots and all up against the boys with no fear and full commitment and I do believe that will lead into more development work with that group with a particular focus on the 7s format of the game.”
One of the highlights of the RugbyWA trip was the trip out to the remote Jigalong community where RugbyWA held another Try RugbyRoos session to over half of the local community based almost 165km away from Newman itself.
“It was surprising out at the Jigalong community school how the kids reacted to our development staff, starting quiet shy and withdrawn but as the games started the kids came very involved and were really keen to interact with our staff on a personal level as well as their eagerness to learn the game,” Mettam explained.
“It was an experience our players and DO’s have never had before, to get that interaction from the kids and they got that real sense of wanting to be part of something big and what they took away from it was really special.”
Yet again The Bloody Slow Cup well exceeded expectations to bring together a community off the back of the tragic event that took place 18 years ago, however 2019’s event was extra special for Perth metro club Perth Bayswater who celebrated ten years of the Bloody Slow Cup Junior curtain raiser the Len Snee Cup.
Every year the club goes to extreme lengths through fundraising and sponsorship to send up their Under 11s side to play in the curtain raiser match.
The connection between the club and the event stems from Constable Gavin Ashley Capes who was one of the four officers who lost their life in the tragic accident, his son Lachlan used to play for Perth Bayswater prior to Gavin’s re-location up to Newman.
The name of the trophy ‘Len Snee’ pays tribute to New Zealand police officer who also tragically lost his life on duty on May 7, 2009.
Snee was an accomplished rugby player in New Zealand and had family within Newman leading to the New Zealand community donating the cup for the annual curtain raiser match.
Out of the ten games played Perth Bayswater have now won eight games with the 2019 result landing at 24 – 39 to the metro side.
RugbyWA development officers each year are tasked with the upskilling of the Newman team; three sessions were run in the week leading up to the event catering for the 33 boys and girls who make up the local squad with the match being the only competitive rugby the players will have in the year.
“Some of the players have never played rugby before but were certainly keen,” Mettam explained, “some of them had played AFL so getting their tackle technique correct was a main focus for us.”
“Most of the kids in Newman have had dads who played the game and have heard the stories so for them to get a taste of that is crucial for us to help grow the game in the area.”
“The team did brilliantly, they were competitive up until the last ten minutes which is a credit to them however the experience and fitness from the ‘Baysie’ team just got them over the line in the end and the coaches were really proud of their effort, it was truly an amazing outcome.”
“Out of the game we had two of the players come up to us and express their goals in pursuing a professional rugby career and to hear something like that is amazing, the impact is defiantly there.”
The game was then followed by the main event which was the ‘Bloody Slow Cup match’ where New Zealand, came away with a one-point victory in a truly nail-biting fashion.
The game was refereed by Fortescue Premier Grade referee Jordan Kaminski who was appointed by the Western Australian Rugby Union Referees Association assisted by RugbyWA staff as assistant referees.
The support from the RugbyWA staff in conjunction with Fortescue Metals Group and the Belt-Up campaign was well received with organizers of the event expressing their gratitude after the final whistle.
“Coming from the coaches after the game they gave recognition to us in front of the crowd and I truly believe the impact we are having up there is really making a difference and that humbles me.”
RugbyWA are planning to increase their work in the Newman area with the hope of creating a stable competition for both boys and girls in the XVs and 7s format building towards another major match prior to the Bloody Slow Cup.