it's been a gorgeous weekend here in Sydney. Yesterday I went to see TAS play Scots in the NSW GPS (Greater Public Schools) thirds competition. TAS,The Armidale School, has been a GPS member since 1897. The school's smaller size and non-metro location (TAS is the only NSW GPS school outside Sydney) makes participation in Sydney based GPS events difficult. However, this year TAS firsts have been playing in the newly created GPS Thirds, while other TAS teams have been making the trek as well.
It's a big effort. With the exception of Sydney Boys High and Sydney Grammar who come to Armidale on an annual basis, the other Sydney schools play in Armidale every second year. By contrast, the TAS teams play in Sydney on average every second week. There are fifteen players in a Rugby team plus reserves. Twelve TAS teams played against Scots Saturday. That's 180 boys plus reserves, coaches etc. Every Friday when there is a Sydney game, the boys join the buses that pull up at the front of the school for the seven hour trip to Sydney. Every Saturday after the games. they join the buses for the seven hour trip back. It's a huge effort.
Why bother? Well, it's partly tradition. But it's also the only way that the boys can get top level competition. TAS is the Australian Institute of Sport Rugby focus for Northern NSW. It draws a thousand plus boys to its local Rugby carnivals. But while still weak by Sydney standards, it is just too strong for the local competition.
Yesterday TAS won against Scots 31-22, the competition leaders. With results in other other games. TAS moved to second place, Scots to third. This is one shot I took of the game. It shows TAS defending.
I suspect that at my age one could argue against my interest in schoolboy football. But I do enjoy it.
I get depressed, mind you, at just how much better the boys are as compared to my period. I do wonder how I might have gone with today's training skills? I also get depressed at the way that professionalism and sports scholarships have entered the game. It doesn't seem right. In the end, this should be kids enjoying themselves.
Still, it was a nice afternoon. Next week is the last game in this year's comp with TAS playing Newington. Eldest daughter has promise to come with me. That will be fun its own right.