Updated: Jun 16
Sport plays such a key role in the community, providing a fabric to connect people socially, be it as an active participant or enthralled spectator. It is a great way to stay fit and can serve invaluable lessons to youngsters on discipline, structure, respect and mateship.
Rugby Union is a game for people of all ages, genders, sizes and abilities with a number of different formats on offer. Wauchope Thunder is a local rugby union club currently playing in the Lower Mid North Coast Rugby Competition. We spoke with a couple of the organisers to find out more about the local rugby scene.
Wauchope Thunder was officially formed in 2014 when a local man named Peter Daley entered a junior rugby team for his son and his son’s mates into the Port Macquarie Friday night competition. The next year a group of rugby tragics met at the Hastings Hotel and a committee was formed.
At that time there was an increase in the scope regarding the number of teams participating in the Mid North Coast rugby competition which also contributed to the Wauchope Thunder being founded. Local teams Hastings Valley Vikings had been running for 20 years and Port Macquarie Pirates for 40 odd years, so initially it was challenging for the fledgling club having such established clubs on the door step. However, with the population of Wauchope, Beechwood, King Creek and Thrumster growing, numbers have and continue to slowly but surely gain momentum each year.
The actual name Wauchope Thunder came about after a series of suggestions from club members who decided on a combination name. ‘Wauchope’, of course, took its name from the local area the club originated from. ‘Thunder’ was suggested by club members who are Big Bash cricket fans (Sydney Thunder) and in reference to the rolling thunder often heard over the top of Bago Mountain, which is also featured in the teams logo.
The Club has continued to grow from its founding years with a senior men’s team participating in local competition since 2015 and a senior women’s team active since the inception of the women’s competition in 2017. The juniors played between 2014-2019 but sadly, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, were unable to field teams in 2020 or 2021. They are, however, working hard and confident this will change and a competitive team will be in place and ready to go in 2022.
The women play rugby 10s, a version of the game played on the same size field as the men but with five less players. Sharing the same fundamental rules and concepts, but having only 10 players on the field at any one time, there is a bit more space for the speedstars!
Interest in the sport has varied between genders. Generally, senior mens across the entire sport is shrinking, with most teams in the competition struggling more than in previous years to fill spots week in week out. Women on the other hand have embraced the sport and Wauchope Thunder have seen year on year growth, something reflected nationally.
The overall future of the sport is bright though, with rugby union now on Stan Sport and Channel 9 along with new Wallabies and Wallaroos coaches and the game represented at the Tokyo Olympics. Growth and interest in the sport will benefit at the community level and hopefully continue to flourish.
Despite being a relatively smaller club, Wauchope Thunder have had their fair share of achievements. The girls team have played in the grand final every year since 2017. This year the club had 10 of their girls make the Mid North Coast representative team, with four of them going onto make the NSW Country team. Furthermore, two of those girls will go on and play Super Rugby this year in the Super W selects team.
The Thunder men last year played semi-finals rugby for the first time which was a huge accomplishment from where they started back in 2015.
The club couldn’t do it any of it without their amazing sponsors, so a huge thank you to them all! Major sponsor Hastings Hotel looks after the team both on and off the field. Some of the other amazing local sponsors include TG’s Child Care, Holy Cow Butchers, Port City Glass, Good Shepherd Medical and Dental, MNC Maintenance, and McDonalds to name but a few.
To help the sport continue to grow locally, we urge you to follow Wauchope Thunder on social media, and go to games at Andrews Park. But most of all the Club need to get people involved as volunteers in the great local family club. Volunteers make any club go round, help is needed in a variety of ways, from setting up the field to working the canteen to managing or coaching a team – volunteers are key and there can never be too many.
Wauchope Thunder’s big focus in 2022 is around getting juniors back on the paddock, so anyone that would like to get involved as a player, parent, volunteer, coach or supporter please get in contact, go to a game, the club would love to hear from you!
The teams home ground is Andrews Park, Cameron Street, Wauchope. Rugby is played on Saturdays across the Lower Mid North Coast. Clubs participating in the local competition consist of Wauchope, Old Bar, Taree, Wallamba and Forster.