Around The Traps Column: Simply the best, Browny’s a doer, big colts revamp, White out at Orange

We’re into Round Ten of the Shute Shield and as always the phone has been ringing hot with all the news and views from the greatest club competition in Australia. Here’s what we are hearing:

The feedback that Rugby News has been getting from the Battle of the Beaches derby lunch last week was that it wasn’t just the best rugby lunch ever it was the best sports lunch of all time.

Close to 800 packed into the Mirramar reception centre at Terry Hills and many old rivalries and friendships were rekindled on an afternoon of great food, good wine and enough bonhomie to solve all the problems in the Middle East.

People that I spoke to said it took just about all the afternoon to “get around” the room and do the catch ups that are part of these sort of functions.

Former Manly Daily sports editor JON GEDDES was in his element and he reported that the panel discussion convened by SEAN MALONEY that they had with LUKE HOLMES, DAMIEN CUMMINS, STEVE WILLIAMS, STEVE LIDBURY, ROD MACQUEEN and BOB LANE. ‘Moose’ Lane, a policeman at Manly for many years, told the story about pulling over a car with a Rats sticker one night at Terrey Hills.

In his deadpan, copper delivery Lane asked the young driver, who was on the way home from seeing mates, if he played for Warringah.

The young driver’s face lit up when he said yes he did, but quick as a flash Lane said: “I hate the Rats.”

The driver squirmed behind the wheel not sure where his night was going to end. But Lane added: “And when you go to training on Tuesday night tell ‘em that Sgt ‘Moose’ pulled you over.”

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There are lots of “doers” in our game and it’s good to see some of those people recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list announced last weekend.

One of those was Mike Brown who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to the community and rugby.

Brown was one of five rugby people to receive awards headlined by former Wallaby and Australian Rugby President, Dr John Coolican and NSWRU Board Director, Kerry Chikarovski. Coolican and Chikarovski were awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in the general division for their contribution to sporting organisations along with Craig Phillips. Brown and Queenslander Ewan Palmer rounded out the award group with their OAMs.

I worked with ‘Browny’ when he was brought on to the board of the North Harbour and Sydney Rays back in the day when the National Rugby Championship was a thing.

His energy, can do attitude and love of the game and its important pathways was evident right from the get go.

‘Browny’ served on the ARU board for a number of years on top of his work in the community and the stuff he did over many years with the Gordon juniors.

The game is better for the involvement of not only Brown but all five of the recipients.

“We are a sport driven by an army of volunteers whose passion and dedication continues to provide the lifeblood of our game,” Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said.

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Warringah were hoping to welcome back BOYD KILLINGWORTH back into their Shute Shield squad this year after his time with the Aussie Sevens squad but a shoulder injury that required surgery and a back problem scuttled those hopes.

The back issue was so bad that Killingworth decided to retire (at this stage) from senior footy but as they say when one door closes another one opens.

When Rugby News spoke to him at the start of the season there was some hope that he would get back on to the field but Killingworth is now teaming with former Rats team-mate JOSH HOLMES to coach the Warringah Colts next year.

That is something of a coaching dream team and they will be complemented by the down to earth management skills of BEN BAYLISS who will be in charge of flow of talent into the system.

Bayliss is currently finalising a hand-picked team of support coaches and staff across all of Colts.

The club has also retained 2021 head coach Murray Hooper as part of the brains trust, moving to a consultancy role with the group.

“We are getting a head start on the 2022 season. This is all part of our vision to create the No.1 Colts program in the state. Having the skill and knowledge of these two local juniors at the helm is just the start. Rats Colts will be a force in the coming years,” Todd Marks, Director of Colts said.

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Gordon flyhalf REECE MACDONALD just can’t seem to take a trick on the injury front this season – every time that he has got himself back on the field this year he goes down with another malaise.

This time it’s a fractured eye socket to add to the broken hand that he sustained earlier in the season.

But the good news is he will be about and ready for duty in about a month and ready for the Highlanders run to the semi-finals. Here’s one for the diary for all those Randwick types – a Back To Randwick weekend is being staged in and around the Galloping Greens game against Warringah on July 24 at Coogee Oval.

The weekend will kick off at Coogee Surf Club with reunion drinks function and will continue into Saturday. It’s one not to be missed!

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Southern Districts have the bye this weekend but there will still be an action packed day at Forshaw Rugby Park on Saturday. The club origin day will be headlined by a Port Hacking v St George game with players drawn from the club’s grade ranks.

The day will also feature some colts and fourth grade friendlies against Eastern Suburbs and then there is the subbies games between the Sea Lice and Sydney Irish and then Chammerherads take Menai.

It all kicks off at 11.30am and continues through until the sun sets. Entry is free and the famous Forshaw burgers will be on sale.

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Lots of volunteer heroes about at all the State Championship venues last weekend but there’s got to be a special mention to the good people of Orange who were faced with a “white out” a little more than 24 hours before the Under 14 titles were due to kick off.

Around 10cm of snow was dumped on the titles main venue, Endeavour Oval, on the Thursday before everything got underway.

With more than 40 games scheduled to be played over the three days, the organisers had to think on their feet and get games scheduled at alternate venues.

The round games on the Saturday and Sunday were played away from Endeavour but the ground had recovered enough by the Monday and the finals games were played there.

“It’s a real credit to all the volunteers, the way everyone kept going despite the hurdles,” competition manager Penny Fisher said.

“It meant a lot of people coming to town, it really still surprises me how people haven’t been this side of the Blue Mountains. The feedback was all positive and the rugby was really high quality too.”

IMAGE: KAREN WATSON