EASTERN SUBURBS RUGBY UNION FOOTBALL CLUB
Our season commenced in late December last year with a players meeting, and the appointment of David Hales as assistant coach.
The first training run was at Bellerive Beach on 5th January. The number of people involved and the attitude was excellent, there were some new players, albeit inexperienced, and there were high hopes for the season. Dave had lots of good ideas and drills and we soon graduated to the grass at Rose Bay High School.
As pre-season wore on, we continued to pick up some new players to add to our experienced core group. Nearing the start of the season, I was excited about our backline. It was looking to be the best unit that the Club has seen in years. In contrast, I was becoming alarmed by the few options we had in the tight five. Our problems were somewhat compounded by Dave disappearing to coach Hutchins and our half-back leaving to eventually play soccer.
At the beginning of the season, we travelled to Burnie to play the 12-a-side Cougar Cup competition. We took 12 players, and of the four games we played, we won one, drew one and lost two. There were some sore boys coming home. My original assessment regarding our backs and forward tight five had become apparent.
So began a long season, and it is here that I mention the first player name. A kid named Sam Featherstone came to training with Ben one night, having only played a couple of games on the wing in Under 18’s. So I gave him a couple of games as a reserve on the wing. He was keen to get a regular spot, so I told him hooker was available. He grabbed the chance, only missed two training sessions and was the first person picked each week.
I mentioned Sam, but there were others and I am hesitant to name more, in case I leave some-one out. However, it is sufficient to say that the 2012 class of beginners was outstanding.
On 19th May we travelled to Launceston to play AMC. At 4.36pm on that day, victory was finally ours after two and a half winless years. We also won the return bout at home later in the year. These were to be our only two wins for the season.
There were some excellent highlights, however. We had three night games against Quins, Hobart Lions and Glenorchy. Our boys were extremely competitive in each, and with some more experience, could have won them all. As it was, they won a lot of respect in the rugby community for their never-say-die attitude.
Another highlight was Jake Hyland’s selection as State Under 18 vice-captain for the carnival in Sydney. Unfortunately, they delivered him back to us severely injured. In testament to this kid’s outstanding courage, he then played a State game against Combined Services and some more for us until he saw a proper doctor who convinced him he was risking his eye-sight and or his life, at which point he decided to stop playing for the remainder of the season. He was an outstanding contributor to our team.
The low lights were obviously the number of injuries we sustained as the season progressed. I believe this was partly a function of the intensity that the boys played with, as well as the usual expected wear and tear.
In conclusion, I have to thank some people. Firstly my partner, Pat. She was with me all the way, despite being a Vice-President of our traditional rivals, Glenorchy. She supported me at great financial and personal cost to herself. This season wouldn’t have happened without her. Kristi Leitch our trainer, manager, general go-getter and my confidante. Wendy Farrington, Kristi’s first lieutenant and bus driver. Jimmy Hobden, our chief torturer. Cameron Smith for his cameo coaching appearances. And most of all, to the players.
At this time last year, Eastern Suburbs honoured me with Life Membership of the Club. This year I was further honoured to be able to coach a wonderful group of young men and hopefully I have contributed in some way to their development as rugby players and personally. I wish them every success as their careers and lives progress.