Orange City Council, the NSW Country Eagles and the Orange Emus Rugby Club have unveiled plans to play a Round Five match of the National Rugby Championships in Orange this season.
Eagles general manager and ex-Wallaby, Andrew Blades, Orange mayor John Davis OAM, and Emus club president Steve Fergus today announced that on Saturday the 28th of October, the NSW Country NRC team will once again be in Orange for a round five bumper fixture against Brisbane City, to be held at the Orange Emus Rugby Club.
Andrew Blades said he is excited at being able to take the game back to Orange, and to other areas of the bush around Australia.
“A massive goal of ours is to be able to promote rugby, at both a professional and grassroots level in regional areas of Australia. This season we are playing our home games in Orange, Tamworth, Armidale and Goulburn,” Andrew Blades said. “I know the boys are raring to go when Round 1 rolls around at the start of September.”
“In September last year Endeavour Oval in Orange was set to play host to a blockbuster round five fixture in the National Rugby Championships between minor premiers NSW Country Eagles, and the eventual champions - Perth Spirit.
“Unfortunately, the week leading into the game resembled more of a wet monsoon season in the tropical North than the pristine, crisp conditions we have come to expect from Orange. The game had to relocate to Concord Oval in Sydney and the rugby community in Orange missed the opportunity to be part of the Eagles successful 2016 season. Then general manager of the Eagles, Peter Playford, spoke of his, and indeed the team’s disappointment at not being able to take the match to Orange, and pledged that they would be back.”
“Through their partnership with Elders, the Eagles were proud to be able to support the successful Eastern Suburbs vs Gordon fixture that took place in Orange earlier this year.
Orange Mayor John Davis has welcomed news of Orange hosting the game.
“Rugby has a keen and enthusiastic following in Orange and I’m sure there’ll be a huge turn-out to this game,” Cr John Davis said. “The council is pleased to seek out and host major sporting events such as the Eagles game. It’s a great boost for local juniors and players to see the best first-hand, and a shot-in-the-arm for the local economy.”
Orange Emus Rugby Club president Steve Fergus said Rugby enthusiasts will be keenly looking forward to the match.
“It’s great to see the Eagles come to Orange. The central west has been spoilt this year with the Waratahs playing in Mudgee and Easts bringing a home game to Orange,” Steve Fergus said. “This game will be a real boon for Orange Rugby. It will be great to see the stars of tomorrow up close, potentially pushing for Spring tour spots.”
Andrew Blades is this week running a number of coaching clinics at the Orange Emus club and he has made clear his intentions of having the Eagles players run coaching clinics the night before their fixture on the 28th of October.
“There will be a great chance for young players in Orange, and indeed other country areas, to come and meet the players, run some drills and learn a few tips from the very best,” Andrew Blades said. “It’s very important for us to meet these next generation of footballers and we really just can’t wait for it all to begin.”
Blades said the Eagles franchise is thankful for Orange City Council’s support in bringing both the game and the various coaching clinics to Orange.
“Orange City Council have been superb throughout this whole process. We have a shared vision on how we want to see country rugby grow in Australia, and they have been so willing and professional in ensuring we have a top quality venue to run these clinics, and the game against Brisbane City.”
NRC Background Information The National Rugby Championship (NRC), is Australia’s national professional rugby union competition. The NRC which is in its fourth season, is contested by eight teams from all corners of Australia, and this year is expanding to host Fiji as one of the competing sides. The NRC has a proud tradition of producing Super Rugby and National players. From the Eagles alone, Ned Hanigan, Jake Gordon, Tolu Latu and Kyle Godwin have all made the step up to the international scene, while another handful secured Super Rugby contracts as a result of their impressive performances last season - including Alex Newsome with the Western Force, and Tom Cusack with the Brumbies.
Season four of the NRC kicks off with the Eagles taking on the Rams in Sydney on the 2nd of September.