Peter Tonkin’s idea for a junior rugby competition has now been realised. And below, players compete in the new format last week.
Peter Tonkin’s idea for a junior rugby competition has now been realised. And below, players compete in the new format last week.

Tonkin's dream turns to reality

PETER Tonkin is no stranger to rugby union and his passion and knowledge for the game is second to none.

Tonkin is from a rugby family. In fact his father Arthur Tonkin played for the Wallabies in the late 1940s.

Three years ago Tonkin came up with the idea of running a local junior competition and last Friday night it was evident his hard work and the committees work had paid dividends.

Grafton rugby fields were alight with smiling Wallaby hopefuls as Tonkin and his qualified coaches ran the players through various drills before all the action started.

Based on the Australian Rugby Union’s Junior Development Program the club is running the AJ Whalley competition.

“We’ll be developing general sport skills with an emphasis on rugby specific activities and applying these in the appropriate modified games of rugby - Walla, Mini and Midi,” Tonkin said.

“The games are challenging but ensure all individuals are catered for no matter what their experience. It’s all about equal participation and enjoyment where everybody gets a fair go.”

On Friday night teams were split into age groups with registered players receiving a bonus pack of rugby gear.

“It only costs $65 to register and each kid receives a Waratah bag, drink bottle, Waratah cap and a training and dress shirt,” Tonkin said.

Walla rugby continues to thrive on the North Coast and Grafton is no different. Walla Rugby is for the 7-8 age groups and does not involve tackling but encourages the young player to the contact nature of the game by teaching correct tackling techniques.

Part of the for appeal for parents is there is no travel involved to other towns, something club president Michael Brooks sees as a positive initiative.

“We saw a need to create our own competition as we thought it was too much for parents and carers to travel long distances for our 12 years and younger age groups,” Brooks said

On Friday night Tonkin announced the introduction of the KM Clifford Cup for the 9-10 age groups as a tribute to Kyle Clifford who tragically passed away last week.

“The AJ Whalley Shield is named after AJ who was a local junior who played for the Western Force and is now playing rugby in France,” Tonkin said.

“Kyle was also an outstanding local junior and the club has been shocked by the news of his sudden passing.”

Tonkin said those players wanting to try their hand at junior rugby can turn up to the rugby fields each Friday night at 5.30.

The competition winds up at the end of school term two.



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