Rugby union has entered the sporting frame in Tenterfield after a decades-long hiatus.
The Tenterfield Bumblebees formed to field a side this year in the Far North Coast competition after a group of community members found a gap yearning for the sport to return to the local sporting spectrum.
“I think it is close to 20 years or so, it has been a fair while,” Bumblebees secretary Toby Fibbins said. of how long it has been since the town had a union team.
We put the feelers out in the community and found a massive interest for it.- Toby Fibbins
“Myself and another few people in the community felt there was a need for rugby to make a comeback.
“We are very passionate about it.
“We put the feelers out in the community and found a massive interest for it.”
More than 20 players have been attending weekly training sessions.
Now we are having training and having good numbers to training which is great.
We are getting 20-plus players to training.
We are only entering one team - third grade in the Far North Coast competition.
While there is already an established rugby league club in the Tigers in Tenterfield, Fibbins is confident both codes can thrive alongside one another and said the Bumblebees won’t be encouraging players to crossover.
“One thing when we started a team was we didn't want to poach players from league because we felt the town needed both teams,” he said.
“The Tigers were already very well established here and it wasn't our intention to poach players from those guys.
“We have just found there was plenty of players that didn't want to play league or were committed to rugby and just didn't play.
“We have mostly locals and from the surrounding districts, a couple of guys up from Deepwater, a couple from Armidale who are going to uni but are Tenterfield locals, a good bunch of guys.
“There's a fair bit of experience there. We have had players who played for Glen Innes.
“There is also a good mix of players who have never played the game as well, there are a lot of young fellas from high school.
“We really want the team to be community-focused, where families are welcome.”
Federation Park will be the home of the Bumblebees and local rugby union fans won’t have to to wait long to see them in action with a charity day planned for March 24.
Three games will be played on the day to raise funds for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
A golden oldies encounter with the Wollongbar Warhorses taking on an invitational team will begin the day’s clashes at 12pm.
The Bumblebees will start their 2018 campaign at 12.30pm with a clash against New England Rugby Union third grade side St Albert’s College which will be followed by a game between Albies and Wollongbar Alstonville Pioneers second grade teams at 1.30pm.
Albies and the Pioneers first grade teams will play a premiers challenge in the main game at 3pm as the reigning champions from the New England and Far North Coast competitions.
“We have three full grades playing so it should be a good day and hopefully the community can come and support it,” Fibbins said.
“It is really exciting for the town, we have plenty of numbers and plenty of sponsors as well so the community is getting right behind it.
“Now we just need to make it a bit wider and hopefully get plenty of supporters up there.”
St Albert’s College coach Chris Kelly said he was excited to be a part of the day to celebrate the return of Rugby to Tenterfield and is looking forward to playing the Far North Coast premiers.
He said he has heard a lot about the Wollongbar team and will be fielding his strongest possible side for the clash. It will be a great day.
Tenterfield rugby coach Phil Jones said it will be great day to celebrate the return of Rugby to the town.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is also hosting a great after game party in the Pavilion at Tenterfield Showground.
The night will feature live music from some of the best local musicians.
It will be fully licensed with plenty of food.
There is a $10 charge for the night commences at 6pm.
The Bumblebees are inviting all local and visitors to join us and have fun, great way to celebrate the return of rugby to Tenterfield.