League's lost nursery

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Fears arise for rugby league's future in Sydney's west after NSWRL snub
By Josh Massoud
August 09, 2009 One of rugby league's most cherished breeding grounds for the past 50 years, St Gregory's College Campbelltown, has cast enormous doubt over its ongoing commitment to the code.

The school which has produced household names that include Trent Barrett, Ryan Hoffman, Tim Sheens, Jack Gibson and Jason Taylor, has withdrawn from this week's 65th NSWRL All-schools knockout in St Marys.

Junior league officials were stunned on Wednesday morning when the Campbelltown institution failed to enter a single team in the tournament, one of the biggest and most prestigious events on the schoolboy calendar.

It has deepened concerns about the stability of league's foothold in Sydney's west, where both rugby union and AFL are looking to muscle in.

Although still viewed as a strong contender in premier schoolboy competition, The Arrive Alive Cup, St Gregory's has been increasing its commitment to rugby over the past three years.

A league source close to the school said the change in direction was likely to continue, given the new boarding headmaster hails from famed ACT rugby nursery Marist College.

"There's a duty-of-care concern at the school about giving the boarders something to do on the weekends," the source said.

"Rugby union has organised schoolboy competitions on Saturdays – league doesn't. Because we play midweek, that can also affect their curriculum. There's also been some red-tape about whether the kids are eligible to play in the Western Suburbs junior league on weekends."

NSWRL junior reps boss Martin Meredith said Wednesday's no-show had caught organisers by complete surprise, with no one from St Gregory's bothering to contact him with an explanation.

Meredith remained unaware of St Gregory's reason for not entering teams in any of the four age groups, which ranged from under-13s to under-16s.

"All I've been told is the decision not to come was made by the school's leadership committee, but I won't know any more until I speak to the principal directly (Monday)," Meredith said.

"They still played in the Arrive Alive Cup on Thursday (losing to Hills Sports High in the round of 16). The school has not contacted us with anything as yet."

St Gregory's uncertain future was a major talking point among NRL recruitment managers and player agents at CUA Stadium during Friday afternoon's Arrive Alive Cup clash between Matraville and St John's Woodlawn.

Bulldogs recruitment guru Peter Mulholland, who taught and coached at St Gregory's for 20 years, was among the most concerned.

"Their decision to pull out came as a shock, to say the least," Mulholland said. "We're obviously concerned because it's been a wonderful school for rugby league. It will be interesting to see what happens from here."
 

beachtiger

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Unbelievable!!!

I'm not one to go off screaming about the sky falling down but this MUST be a major concern for the NRL. This area of Sydney has been grossly neglected for quite some timenow because it is deemed to be a Rugby lEague heartland and I think that arrogance by the NRL may end up beginning the influx of the other codes.

AFL is blatantly obvious about wanting their share of the junior talent but the fact that Union has taken steps to LISTEN to the schools and set up a competition that suits them is a big worry in my opinion. It is only a matter of time until other "Rugby League Schools" consider the Union option as well.
 

tiger3

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This report is absolute rubbish! :angry:
Greg's has never held the All School's Carnival in high esteem. Their participation has always been irregular and when they have participated,they have sent a second or third string "first grade" team along, so as the firsts don't get bashed around by some try hard school's out to make a name for themselves.
Greg's prioritise the Arrive Alive Cup as first and the MCS competition a close second. The End.
This article is yet another beat up,aimed at attracting more funding and publicity in the area for soccer clubs,rugby union clubs and AFL and Basketball. Seriously.
 

tigesup

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They don't send their first grade team anyway because its only up to 16's.Most first side players are 18's.

Don't worry this may be a beat up to some but ask some of the kids what they think!!!

Gregs boarders used to compete in the Wests junior league but the previous principal(union suporter) found an excuse to get out. Boarding headmaster is a former Australian schoolboys union coach who was put in place instead of Simon Huntley(Australian schoolboys league coach who applied for position I was told)by the previous principal.

Yes arrive alive and MCS comp (3 teams in 2009 first grade, what a joke) are still held in high regard but this doesn't take away from the story all together.

Good experience gained from these carnivals and for the school to not nominate is almost criminal. One day out of a school term is not too big a committment to make.

As I said, ask some of the kids attending the college if they think its a joke or rubbish. A lot of them go to Gregs because it is a so called league school.

Well maybe it used to be.
 

balmain1

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@tiger3 said:
This report is absolute rubbish! :angry:
Greg's has never held the All School's Carnival in high esteem. Their participation has always been irregular and when they have participated,they have sent a second or third string "first grade" team along, so as the firsts don't get bashed around by some try hard school's out to make a name for themselves.
Greg's prioritise the Arrive Alive Cup as first and the MCS competition a close second. The End.
This article is yet another beat up,aimed at attracting more funding and publicity in the area for soccer clubs,rugby union clubs and AFL and Basketball. Seriously.

Agree completely!!!
 

Tommy_Terrific

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Another beat up. The same thing happened a few years ago in the MCC competition. We were all told of the threat of Union. In 2008 Union was voted off the MCC program 6-2 by the schools. St Gregs is a big enough school to play both. And it will always be league at heart.

Will no doubt be another string to the argument that the WT should play more at Campbelltown. However again I think Gregs will be safe for a while yet.
 

Centaur

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This sort of talk has been going on for years. League is still taken seriously, however it can be argued that it has fallen away in the last five years or so. The school has decades of league tradition and everybody knows that - so it is going to take more than a few games of Union played by the boarders on the weekend to break that proud tradition.

Besides there are thousands of old boys who make their feelings heard whenever stories like this surface.
 

tiger3

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Good experience gained from these carnivals and for the school to not nominate is almost criminal. One day out of a school term is not too big a committment to make.

Tigesup,who is the experience good for? Sure it is good for St Barry's out the back of nowhere to come to town and take pot shots at Greg's boys and play against class and potential first graders. But it is not a good experience for a school like Greg's to send a team or six, along only to have injuries caused and to flog other teams 50 blot! School's l;ike Greg's should not have to be held responsible for the RL development in the country - that is Phillip Street's job!

In terms of my comments about "first graders" in my last post, I should have said "string" instead of "grade"…Greg's would never send their, for example, 16A's because those boys are the ones who often have to cover for the Firsts and seconds. And so on down the age groups.

Beside all of this, alot of boys on footy scholarships at schools like Greg's would never have permission from their Club to play in a comp like this.

It's not just about a day off school,in reality noone cares about that, it is about it not being worth the while of these top League Schools to send teams of kids who play and train and are coached in a different way. Who are not looking to get bashed by kids who are 7 sizes bigger than them for their age.
 
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