NSW Schools: 2019 CAS Rugby Season Preview
The 2019 CAS season begins on Saturday and looks set to be one of the most competitive in recent years.
Ahead of the opening whistle, Rugby News kicked off its coverage of the CAS season by speaking to the coaches to get the inside word on each side’s preparations heading into round one.
After claiming the CAS premiership in 2016 and 2017, Waverley were beaten by a classy Barker outfit in 2018.
But coach Scott Coleman is confident his side will bounce back and benefit from a tough preseason that has seen the school play some of the best side’s in Australia and abroad.
Overview with Scott Coleman
“We’ve had a really tough preseason and played against some really good schools. We also went to Japan and played in the SANIX tournament, which was fantastic as well,” Waverley coach Scott Coleman told Rugby News.
“We’ve played a lot of footy already and I think that’s helped us improve a lot. If you look back at the first game we played this year and everything we’ve done since then, you can just see how much the boys have grown and learned about what we’re trying to do.”
Under former Newington coach Brad Gill, Cranbrook head into the 2019 CAS season full of confidence after a number of impressive trial wins.
The Eastern Suburbs side begin their campaign against Barker on Saturday and seem quietly confident that they can cause a few upsets this season.
Overview with Brad Gill:
“Things are looking good at Cranbrook at the moment, the boys have been training well and they’re all really excited to get started this weekend,” Gill told Rugby News.
“When it’s only one round, the pre season does draw out a bit with games that don’t carry any weight but now that the season is here, I think everyone is quite excited.
“Our preseason has been good. I probably would have liked to play some tougher opposition in some of the games, because we won a few fairly convincingly. But then the last couple of games have been really good for us, particularly against St Greg’s and St Aloysius’.”
An experienced Knox squad kick started their 2019 CAS campaign with impressive trial wins over Joeys and Shore.
While they fell short against Scots on the weekend, coach Tai Glassie likes what he has seen so far this year ahead of what he expects to be the tightest CAS competition in recent memory.
Overview with Tai Glassie:
“We’re quite happy with how things have gone so far this year. We set a few goals that we’ve tried to focus on and so far things look to be on track,” Knox coach Tai Glassie said.
“We spent most of the off season just trying to nail the basics in our game and learn to do it under pressure and I think we’ve seen the benefits of that in some of our games already.
“The biggest difference for us this year is our leadership group. We’ve got some very strong leaders, who are not just leaders in the rugby program but also leaders in the school. We’ve got school captains, vice captains and prefects all within our squad and that makes my job easy.
2018 couldn’t have gone much better for Barker who claimed the Henry Plume Shield for the first time since 2013.
But a new look Barker squad, led be coach Dean Hargreaves, will look to defend the CAS title in 2019 in what is expected to be one of the most competitive seasons in recent memory.
Overview with Dean Hargreaves:
“2018 was a great year for Barker rugby. The boys worked very hard all year and I was really proud of them, as was the entire Barker community,” Hargreaves told Rugby News.
“We had a few boys that returned for a second season in firsts and after impressing in year 11, they took a lot of confidence and plenty of experience into their year 12 season.
“I think the biggest reason it clicked last year though was because they all just really got on as a group. Socially, they were very good friends and on the field they loved playing with and for one another, which showed in some of those tight games.
St Aloyisus’ were the surprise package of the 2018 CAS season and caused a number of upsets on their way to a third place finish.
Coach Greg Austin welcomes back more than half of last year’s squad in 2019 and seems confident Aloys can cause a few more upsets again this season.
Overview with Greg Austin:
“We’ve had a great start to the year. We had a good trip up to Queensland and toured up there for a week, then we’ve come back and played some invitational games which has been really good for us, playing against some different schools, so it’s gone really well so far,” the coach said.
“Last year we finished third but we probably could have finished higher. I don’t think the team ever really reached their potential so it was a little bit disappointing but considering the size of our school compared to some of the others, third probably isn’t a bad result.
“We played Sydney Grammar in our first match and beat them quite comfortably, then we beat Joeys thirds pretty comfortably as well.
After a brilliant preseason that included an upset win of Joeys, the schools first since 1987, Trinity didn’t quite find their best in the 2018 CAS season.
But a new squad under Nick Pay and Will Campbell have shown promising signs so far in 2019 ahead of their opening round clash against St Aloysius’ on Saturday.