Disappointed at the loss of Country NSW fixture

A casualty of COVID-19 and the impact the virus has had on both rugby and sports around the country, saw the cancellation of one of the NSW Waratahs most-anticipated matches of the year.

The Tahs were due to take on the Bulls at Scully Park in Tamworth on Saturday 21 March, in an event that was about more than what just happened on the field.

NSW Rugby CEO, Paul Doorn lamented the missed opportunity to directly engage with rugby communities in and around Tamworth.

“Rugby in country or regional NSW is a really important part of our game, so many fantastic players have come from those nurseries across the state,” Doorn said.

“I think from both a Waratahs and NSW Rugby perspective, we’re incredibly disappointed in the fact that we’re not going up to Tamworth.

“It’s an event that the local community were really excited about, to then see their reaction at its cancellation hits home the significance of taking Super Rugby to the bush.”

As part of the visit, the Tahs were set to arrive in Tamworth on Thursday before taking part in a number of community engagement activities, both supporting the game in the bush and the areas that have been impacted by fire and drought.

“It was a major event for Tamworth and the surrounding area and was going to be an iconic part of our 2020 schedule,” he said.

“It was more than about what was on the field, or the way we engaged with the community. It was set to be an economic driver for the area with travellers coming into town and small business reaping the benefits.”

The organisation’s charity partner for 2020, Rural Aid was also set to be involved across the four-day trip.

“It was a great opportunity to promote our partnership with Rural Aid, the match would have been a real focal point for that,” Doorn said.

“Despite the fact we’re not in Tamworth, we’re still encouraging people to get behind the great work they’re doing in communities who’ve been hit hard by drought and fire in recent times.”

Doorn thanked the many people who had worked tirelessly to get this event off the ground, and acknowledged their patience and understanding once the cancellation was confirmed.

“There’s been many sponsors and partners who have been fantastic throughout this difficult time, particularly the Wests Entertainment Group who were a major supporter of the event.

“These are unprecedented times, this is a once-in-a-generational issue that we’ve had to face and we’ve all had to make tough decisions.

“Like everyone else, we hope the economy, the game and our spirit as a community bounces back as quickly as possible.

“But whilst we’re in the ‘eye of the storm’ it’s really important we follow the direction of the experts and relevant health authorities as we navigate this particularly difficult time.”

While there was plenty to work through in the immediate, Doorn acknowledged the value of a fixture in Country NSW in years to come.

“From our perspective we’re hopeful it’s something that we can schedule into the future.”