HSBC Waratahs players Kane Douglas and Jeremy Tilse yesterday resorted to extreme measures to support the final day of one Illawarra club’s Try Rugby campaign.
Determined to support Camden RFC event but with a day’s training planned in preparation for Friday night’s big home clash against the Cheetahs, NSW development staff issued an SOS to the rugby community, prompting local rugby supporter and pilot Brett Kitely to step forward.
A huge supporter of rugby in the Illawarra and pilot with Touchdown Helicopters, Kitely volunteered to come up to Sydney to collect the pair, then flew them to Camden Rugby Club and back again by private helicopter.
With Kitely’s assistance, the pair were able to inspire around 200 Illawarra youngsters and their families attending the club’s final session of its six-week Try Rugby campaign, aimed at giving school children the chance to try their hand at the sport. Run by the club and ARU development staff, ably assisted by the NSW forwards, the event was a roaring success, says Camden Juniors President Darren Smith.
“Our groundskeeper has been with the club since 1975 and all he could say was wow! First to have a chopper here and then to have two Waratahs players come out of it – we’ve never seen anything like it at the club before!” said Smith.
“I’d say there were a good 200 people at the event, probably 150 kids and I don’t think they really knew what to expect. But the players were really excellent with them, joining in with the skills sessions, getting everyone involved and entertaining them with the Q&A. They got asked about everything from the weekend’s game against the Cheetahs to the helicopter ride, Kane ever got asked about his hair!
“I think the thing that struck the parents most was the size of the two guys – they just couldn’t believe how big they both were!”
Elsewhere this month, other members of the NSW squad have also been out supporting the rugby community through a number of other Tahs Together community events.
Last Thursday saw the HSBC Waratahs squad undertake a training session at Newington College followed by a player signing session. Students and staff from Newington College hosted the training session which also saw a number of year 7 to 12 students – potential Tahs of the future – join in the hit out.
There was great turnout for the signing session where players also mingled with students and wished them luck with their rugby. Joining the rest of the team in signing autographs, among those attracting the biggest queues were fan favourites Berrick Barnes and Israel Folau.
Last Monday saw another big event take place for Waratahs Rugby. Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell, Rob Horne and Israel Folau joined DJ Havana Brown and hundreds of other guests at the launch of the new V40 premium hatchback, lauded the world’s safest car, and launched in Sydney by HSBC Waratahs’ major partner Volvo Cars..
Friday March 1 saw the HSBC Waratahs help staff and students of St Pius raised $23,000 for the Liam Knight appeal, a fundraising appeal for St Pius X college student, Liam Knight, who became the victim of a party gatecrasher and suffered head injuries in January. St Pius X College old boys, Michael Hooper (HSBC Waratahs) and Luke Jones (Rebels) formed a guard of honour with students from the school at the super 15 rugby game in support of the Liam Knight Appeal.
At another recent event, Ben Volavola and Grayson Hart joined other local sports stars at the News Local Junior Sports Star Awards Evening, a night for celebrating junior sporting talent in the local community. Held at Waterview in Bicentennial Park, the players signed autographs and inspired the young athletes who all have big sporting dreams.
Photos from the visit and all Tahs Together events are posted on the Waratahs’ Facebook wall at www.facebook.com/waratahs.
The events were part of the HSBC Waratahs’ Tahs Together community program that will see players and coaches out and about joining supporters and rugby communities across NSW throughout the season. Through hundreds of activities and events, the HSBC Waratahs aim to engage with all supporters across the state as part of its support of grassroots rugby. Each year, Waratahs Rugby contributes well over $1,000,000 to support the development of the community game through grants and payments to the New South Wales Rugby Union.