Peni Nasalo looks for someone to pass to.
Peni Nasalo looks for someone to pass to. Pani Cornelius

Wet and wild Waitangi Day

CAPRICORN Coast Croc president Jamie McLaughlan thought nobody would turn up to the club's Waitangi Day event on Saturday.

However, despite the downpour of rain, he was delighted to see crowds of footy fans line the rugby union sidelines for the multi-cultural event.

"I was pretty impressed with the crowd size," McLaughlan said.

"We are trying to build up a crowd this year and the weekend has given us confidence about this season."

 

The event kicked off the rugby union club's season, with a round robin day of six games between four teams - the Aussies, the Kiwis, the Barbarians and the invitational side, ASK - and a delicious hāngī lunch for the spectators.

The Aussie side took out the win as the Waitangi Day champions and the runners-up, ASK, also put in a sensational effort.

Trent Flynn captained the Aussie side, with Jacob Rauluni as the Barbarians' captain, Chris Chesworth as the ASK captain and Dan Memott as the Kiwi captain.

Former Samoan International player Onehunga Mata'uiau also came along on the day and played for the Barbarians side.

More than 60 players strapped on their boots and braced the rain, wind and soggy field and more than 100 people came down to watch the "fun and inclusive day" from the sidelines.

Junior rugby co-ordinator Vanessa Raulini has been a part of the club for the past 10 years and said the weekend's turnout was an indication of just how committed the community was to rugby union.

"We were extremely thrilled with the support that we got," Raulini said.

"There was torrential rain and it was a really tough day but it was still successful.

 

With two tacklers on him, Tui Luva looks to pass the ball.
With two tacklers on him, Tui Luva looks to pass the ball. Pani Cornelius

"We would have had far higher numbers had the weather been kinder to us but the boys enjoyed it on the pitch and there were no major injuries.

"It was a day of fun and I think a crowd highlight was seeing the old bulls go up against the young kids, all played in the spirit of rugby."

For the very first time this year, the Capricorn Coast Crocs will be running three junior games, a ladies game, a reserve grade and the first grade on Saturday game days.

Another huge change this season will be the junior team's season, which McLauchlan said would continue to grow the club's "family orientated" focus.

 

Dan Moloney prepares to receive the ball from Peni Nasalo who is being tackled by Jarusta Mann and James Cameron.
Dan Moloney prepares to receive the ball from Peni Nasalo who is being tackled by Jarusta Mann and James Cameron. Pani Cornelius

"The juniors have always played at the end of the senior's season so as to not clash predominately with league, however this year the union community will be playing the 13-17 ages during the senior's season," Raulini said.

"It will be fantastic for rugby union.

"During the season we'll also have other celebrations. Last year we had the Fiji day celebration and the Ladies day was also popular and a huge event that brought in hundreds of people."

 

With the try line in sight, George Fuka races off with David Evans in pursuit.
With the try line in sight, George Fuka races off with David Evans in pursuit. Pani Cornelius

For the club, the weekend was about more than a couple of games of footy, it was about "giving back to the community", something the club valued above all else.

"That's what sport is all about," Raulini said.

"It's about being a part of something and when people are a part of something it's just fantastic for the self-esteem of young kids.

"Rugby is a very inclusive game ... no matter if you're the skinniest kid on the field, a big lock or very tall, the game welcomes people of all sizes.

"That's what it's about, everyone is welcome."

Raulini said the Capricorn Coast Crocs currently have the biggest rugby union club in Central Queensland.

 

Ball carrier Dave Ingram is tackled by Kerrin Ohl and John Armstrong.
Ball carrier Dave Ingram is tackled by Kerrin Ohl and John Armstrong. Pani Cornelius

"The training numbers have been great for the teams with the boys doing a lot of fitness," Raulini said.

"Last year we didn't get into the finals with the seniors but we were really competitive and will be very competitive this season.

"A massive thanks to Mos Kiriona and the Edwards family who cooked up an awesome hāngī."



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