The game is certainly been felt in the Midwest/Geraldton region as Geraldton Grammar College and Strathalbyn Christian College banded together to host a historical schoolboys rugby game.
The game took place in late November of last year and was structured as an 11-a-side match with three ten minute halves that took place at Spalding Park, the home of the Geraldton Tiger Sharks rugby club.
The age bracket for the game was between U13-U14 while the Strathalbyn students were somewhat younger than their Grammar counterparts.
Despite the limited opportunities to prepare for the match, both schools demonstrated a high standard of knowledge for the game while also displaying a yearning desire to learn more about the fundamentals of rugby.
While there was no formal scoring, The Grammar students took control for most of the game with a small size advantage at their disposal.
However, the fierce tenacity of the Strathalbyn students saw the momentum of the game swing in their favour a number of times throughout the match.
Thankfully, there were no injuries to report by the final whistle.
A number of significant people within the Geraldton rugby community contributed to make the game possible including RugbyWA’s Development Officer Josh Wilson, who coordinated required skills with both schools.
The game would not have been made possible without the support of teachers and rugby lovers Andre Steenkamp and Johan Boonzaier from Strathalbyn College and Simon Moffat of Geraldton Grammar, all of whom were instrumental in preparing the students for the match.
One of the main rugby driver's in Geraldton and key organizer of the game Tom Gorman, was impressed with how far the junior athletes have come and is excited about the potential coming out of the Midwest region.
“The kids up here are developing fast, they aren't there yet but the potential is there,” he said.
“It’s great to see them getting stuck in and really giving the game a red hot crack.”
“There are 17 schools in and around the Geraldton area and having two of those schools keen to take up rugby as a major sport is a huge achievement.”
Although the match is a small step in the development of rugby in the Midwest region, it is a momentous step in the right direction and has paved the way for bigger and better things in the Geraldton rugby community.
Hard work lies ahead for rugby in Geraldton, and RugbyWA and the Geraldton rugby community are collectively working together to create grand plans for rugby in the region.
Down the long and winding road, there is a focus to bring to fruition a school based U13-U14 competition amongst the five senior schools in Geraldton.
“We’ve had RugbyWA development trips before however now having that connection with the schools we are hoping we can keep it going after the development officers leave,” Gorman said.
“After every development tour our local clubs always see a direct benefit, now after this school game we are starting to see the long term effects of the continued effort between us up here and RugbyWA.
“Now that we are seeing consistent groundwork all year round up here the clubs and schools are now thriving with new rugby players which we haven’t really seen before.”
Other focal points include introducing a relationship between Perth based clubs and schools which would include both Perth and Geraldton based games, which would give Geraldton junior rugby players more exposure to different skill levels of the game.
Another key course of action for the future is to build upon the school contacts which are already in place.
While their is a long road ahead for Geraldton, as the love for rugby continues to spread across the great state of Western Australia, it is clearly evident that the game is thriving in here.