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Why You Should Support Your Local Subbies Team

By Dr Marjorie O’Neill on March 5, 2018 in News

A great way to spend a weekend, by Pierre Spies.

With cricket season coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about footy. I guarantee that a number of people reading this article would have made the New Year’s resolution to get into shape this year, so with pre-season footy training underway, why not try your hand at rugby in 2018?
Don’t take me the wrong way, I ‘get’ rugby league. As the great grandneice of Gordan Favell (Sydney Roosters player no. 241, 1935), I come from a family that loves all things footy. The great divide in my family is not along religious or political lines, but rather between the Roosters and Rabbitohs, yet I’ve seen relatives switch alliances to support a young family member whose school plays with the rival camp – not a decision to be taken lightly in my family.
Despite this cultural saturation, and at the risk of becoming a family pariah, I must confess that my sporting heart belongs to rugby – rugby union, that is – and I’m no stranger to the pitch myself, having played for Sydney University for a decade, representing Sydney, and earning selection as a Californian All Star during a stint overseas. I’m currently the Head Women’s Coach at UNSW, so I understand the joys of rugby union, on and off the pitch.
‘Subbies’ teams, which refers to ‘suburban’ rugby clubs, including UNSW Rugby, have a long tradition of producing world class rugby players and professionals. However, this great club has a lot more to offer than just a rite of passage. UNSW has women’s, men’s and colts teams and, unlike other codes, there’s a place on the pitch for everyone in ‘the game they play in heaven’. Whether you’re vertically challenged, carrying a spare tyre around your middle, or you’re not quite at the peak of your fitness and have a devotion to beer, it really doesn’t matter – as a matter of fact, you sound like the perfect fourth grade prop to me!
While I love my rugby league as well, it must be said that union is a true intellectual’s game – the mere process of trying to decipher referees’ calls requires participants to enrol in a PhD.
Unlike the Super Rugby, NRL, or even Shute Shield competitions, entry to the David Phillips Sports Complex at Daceyville is free of charge. Recently ranked in the top one per cent of barbecues by Simon Poidevin AOM, it’s also one of the few places left in the east where you can have a hearty Noah’s Ark sandwich and a beer for under ten bucks, with a promise that the eskies will always be chilled to the perfect temperature.
Grassroots sport is the backbone of our professional leagues. While 2017 was a rough year for Australian Rugby Union, and the Roosters’ signing of Cooper Cronk and resulting exit of Mitchell Pearce may have left you all scratching your heads, we have also seen the revitalisation of community rugby with NSW Rugby’s recent move to David Phillips and ever-increasing numbers turning up to club rugby finals. Our love for community sport in Australia has also been highlighted by the overwhelming response to Peter Fitzsimons’ petition urging the Liberal State Government to invest in public infrastructure over private, including community sports facilities.
Our connection with all things sport highlights the need to maintain, improve and preserve our green open spaces. I often wonder, is there a correlation between decreasing community sporting space and the performance of the Wallabies? What’s the point of having a multibillion dollar stadium when you have mediocre players filling it as a result of the loss of grassroots sports? A new multibillion dollar stadium won’t do anything to make us a healthier, happier sporting nation, but our participation in grassroots sport certainly will. Oh, and don’t forget the esky!



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