Riding the Waverley Spirit
One of my favourite smells is freshly mown grass. This is not uncommon and I’d wager that at least ninety per cent of people who share this quirk played rugby union, or another team sport, when they were younger.
For us, freshly mown grass doesn’t just smell like, well, grass, it smells like opportunity, excitement and a chance to excel. To run like the wind and feel the fresh air dance sumptuously across your skin, as parents and peers cheer you on for a few fleeting moments, before Monday comes and shutters these magical moments away for another working week.
These dreams may be memories now for most of us, but a trip down to Queens Park on the weekend, to see the boys of Waverley College don their stripes, should light a fire in even the dampest of fogies.
Waverley may not be the first name that pops into people’s heads when talking of schoolboy rugby in Sydney, but their pedigree is stronger than you may think; the fact Queens Park is known as ‘Death Valley’ to the school’s opponents is a fair indication of this. They fight above their weight, which makes their achievements extra special, and as underdogs makes them an easy team to get behind. Unless they have an obnoxious supporter like Drake in their corner, but as far as I know, they do not. They do, however, have Director of Co-Curricula, Steve O’Donnell.
Steve attributes the school’s success to its community of coaches, old boys and staff, who go out of their way to get the best out of the students.
“We may not have the same resources or budget that some wealthier schools have,” Mr O’Donnell said, “but we use what we have extremely well and like to often use this as motivation when playing.”
Mr O’Donnell also knows the game is far bigger than just the score line at the end of it.
“We love to win, but more importantly how our students conduct themselves on and off the field is vital. Winning with humility and losing gracefully are key messages we try to instil in all of our students.”
Winning is still nice though and this year their 1st XV are keen to avenge falling heartbreakingly short of the premiership last year. They kicked off their season with some high scoring draws against strong opposition, including a 26-26 draw with Kings in a Waratahs curtain raiser, plus a tight 47-49 loss to traditional rugby powerhouse, St Joseph’s College (Joeys). Yes, you read that right, 47-49. While rugby at the top level is struggling to entertain the masses, the schoolboy competitions are clearly producing some belters.
“We get good crowds down to Queens and I think the players and supporters like watching schoolboy rugby, as it is always exciting and is what rugby is all about in its true essence.” Mr O’Donnell said.
“Maybe they should be televising more schoolboy games. Our recent matches against some of the GPS powerhouse schools would have made great watching on TV!”