Good morning valued Warringah Rugby Sponsors and Supporters
Firstly, I wanted to acknowledge the challenging circumstances we are all currently living through and trust that you are all healthy. I can appreciate that many of you will have had significant impacts imposed on your business and daily lives due to the recent government restrictions to normal trade practices. As a community rugby club, where our sponsors and supporters are the lifeblood of our existence, we stand with you and offer you our support in any way we can. It’s going to be challenging times, but we will come out the other side of this. If there are ways in which our players can support you through this next period, please reach out and we will drive that through our various communication channels we have with our playing group. In positive news, we have thus far managed to avoid any known cases of the virus within our club, and credit must go to the board and our general manager for the decisions they made around isolating our playing group.
On to more encouraging topics. I thought it was a good time to take stock and reflect on our pre-season and some of the great things we have been doing and take you inside a few of those initiatives.
Pre-season began for us on the 11th November 2019. The structure of our pre-Xmas training block was a combination of Gym, Field/Skill and Running. We had the generous support of Paul Amiradaki at 360 Strength & Performance who opened up his Gym to us and allowed our 1st Grade Squad to train there on Monday nights. These Monday nights created the best Gym culture that the club has seen for some years and this was reflected in some of the results we saw through our testing over this period. That Gym culture has naturally transferred into the wider Club group and this has been evident on most evenings down at the Rats gym throughout our post Xmas training block.
One of the initiatives we explored this pre-season, was around ‘Mental Fitness’ and creating an environment where our players felt stronger within themselves and had the ability to communicate more openly. Through the wonderful support of Andrew Ward (Head Above Water) and Vicky and Gus Worland (Gotcha 4 Life), we were able to implement the ‘Tomorrow Man’ program. This has been an incredibly powerful experience for our 1st Grade Squad who have navigated through 2 workshops to date. The remainder of our club were due to commence their program through the first stage of the program until Covid-19 got in our way. This is something we will obviously re-visit when the time is right, and we can re-engage as a club.
The other significant initiative during our pre-season was a full senior club visit to Scone in regional NSW. I would like to acknowledge the Friends of Warringah for their incredibly generous support in making this happen. It would not have been possible without them. This purpose of this visit was two-fold – it was an opportunity for our 1st Grade Squad to get away as part of our pre-season camp and just as importantly it was also an opportunity for our lower grade group to play some trials against some very passionate and skilled country rugby clubs.
This opportunity also gave us the chance to engage in an incredibly meaningful way with the local rugby community and on Friday 6th March, our 1st Grade Squad ran a coaching clinic for Scone Junior Rugby Club and some of its smaller surrounding towns. Full credit to the playing group, who did a great job and promoted our club and brand in an extremely positive light. On Saturday 7th March, a lower grade group of around 40 players participated in a 4 way round robin against Scone, Singleton and Wanderers Rugby Clubs. It was a great day of footy and again the spirit in which our boys played their footy was a great reflection on our club.
The Scone camp/visit lead us into our first trial for 2020 on March 14th. 1st Grade again had the privilege of competing in the Australian Club Championships against Brothers from Qld, whilst the rest of the senior club played Sydney Uni. The club trials against Sydney Uni were incredibly encouraging in wet and windy conditions. The fruits of the players hard work throughout pre-season were on show, with some exciting footy in periods. There were many new faces getting an opportunity to play for Warringah for the first time and everyone did themselves proud.
1st Grade got off to a rocky start in their game against Brothers. Down 19-0 after 20 mins, I was incredibly proud of the way in which the boys remained composed and managed to claw their way back into the game before half-time. The second half looked a little better for us in terms of continuity and we started to find periods of dominance over our opposition. We were able to get away with a win on the bell, which made it 3 from 3 for Warringah competing in the ACC. There were some really encouraging individual performances from our squad. Some of those to standout were Sam Ward, Tyson Davis and Max Girdler. It should also be noted, we had a number of new faces from last year’s Grand Final team who got an opportunity to stake a claim for Round 1 selection. Brothers were a very good opposition for our first hit out for 2020, and whilst it wasn’t always pretty, there were enough encouraging signs heading into our next trial.
I would like to also recognise the work of Greg Marr with our 7’s program that saw us Semi-finalists in Hamilton on the 14th Feb and then the winners of the Kiama 7’s on the 29th Feb. This continued the club’s strong representation at 7’s tournaments over many years now. Additionally, at Hamilton our under 20’s men’s side and our Women’s side both made the final. And the Women made the final in Kiama rounding off an incredibly successful WRC 7’s campaign again.
I would like to acknowledge some of the achievements of our players off the back of a very successful 2019 season. Warringah was well represented throughout the 2019 NRC competition. Rory O’Connor, Ru Mackenzie, Sam Thomson, Tyson Davis, Ben Marr were all chosen to represent Sydney, whilst Ben Woollett and Maclean Jones were selected for Country. It should also be noted that Wes Thomas and Matt Foulds were both drafted into the Country squad at various times.
In 2020, Rory O’Connor obviously continued on with his contract with the NSW Waratahs, while Boyd Killingworth was signed by the Melbourne Rebels and Luke Reimer signed by the Brumbies for the 2020 Super Rugby seasons. Ben Woolett and Harry Jones were also invited down to spend extended periods with the Melbourne Rebels throughout the Super Rugby pre-season and both players had significant involvement in the A programs for the Rebels. Sam Thomson picked himself up a contract with Edinburgh back in Scotland and Maclean Jones recently was signed by Austin in Texas to go and play in the MLR in America. Unfortunately, due to the Virus that competition had been canceled for the remainder of 2020.
I remain optimistic and positive that we will get on the field at some stage this season. As a first year Head Coach, no one is more disappointed and frustrated by the current circumstances. There has been a significant amount of work and effort done in to the last 6 months. We are working hard at the moment to be proactive and innovative in making sure we keep our players engaged and working hard. So far so good, and credit must go to Dan Tilley (our S&C coach) who is driving a lot of that. I am also trying to implement some skills sessions that our players can get through in their own time and space. Please do not underestimate the importance and significance of your continued support through this challenging period. As I said at the start, our sponsors and supporters are the lifeblood of our club and I’ll make it my mission to repay you all once we get back on the field with some exciting and successful footy.
Once again, many thanks, take care, stay healthy and best wishes to all your family, friends and co-workers throughout these challenging times.
I look forward to seeing you all at Rat Park in the near future.