THE UK Armed Forces Rugby League team’s World Cup charm offensive continued to gather pace today as members of the team held a training sessions with sport mad youngsters at the Marconi Mustangs junior RL club in Parramatta writes Dan Abrahams.
The sessions which are part of the NRL’s school holiday clinics, saw more than 100 children take part with a smaller group of 30 kids being put through their paces by players Sgt Ben Cartmell, Men Jamie Birdsall, ET Mike Haldenby, SAC(T) Liam Bradley, Cfn George Clarke, Sgt Garry Dunn and Mjr Dave Groce.
Mjr Groce said: “It was fantastic to see the players interacting with the local kids. Both they and the children seemed to benefit from the experience.
“What really hit me was how well resourced the NRL initiative was and how excited the children were to participate. It is a shame such sessions are not run at home for our youngsters.”
Cfn Clarke added: “I loved doing that, the kids were really good, and also so well behaved. I would have loved to have had something like that at home when I was a youngster.”
Marshall Boyd, NRL Game Development Officer for the Parramatta Eels said: “This club is pretty unique, league is a new sport to this club and the staff are really promoting the sport, they have 13 sides ranging from Under 6s to Under 16s, so to have the UK Armed Forces guys here is terrific and you can see from their reaction to the guys, they all loved it.
“Our school holiday clinic is about promoting the game and developing the junior game, which increase exposure to the club, attracts new players of all levels and register with that club. It keeps the game out there in the community.”
The players carried out basic skills sessions with the eager youngsters, before a scramble field session closed the day off. This was followed by a brief question and answer session with the team, that featured questions on the lads’ time in the game, positions they had played and ages when they scored their first tries, with Mne Jamie Birdsall challenged to a drop goal kicking competition.
The players were then tasked with handing out NRL goodie bags, along with some UKAFRL stickers, which proved hugely popular, with many of the kids wearing them with pride on their hats and shirts.
The team will finish their matches when they face New Zealand tomorrow (Wednesday 12 July) at Windsor, before the third and fourth place play-off match on Friday 12 July, at Ringrose Park, Wentworthville.
Friday 7 July 2017
Australia 64 New Zealand 8
Fiji 40 UK Armed Forces 20
Sunday 9 July
Australia 38 UK Armed Forces 12
Fiji 40 New Zealand 6
Wednesday 12 July
Australia v Fiji
New Zealand v UK Armed Forces
Friday 14 July
Third v Fourth Play-off: UK Armed Forces v New Zealand (Ringrose Park)
Sunday 16 July
Final: Australia v Fiji (Pepper Stadium)