Half way through the season and despite what many pundits were predicting our Club remains in a strong position across all the grades. So how are we going. Lets have a look at our mid year report card!
Premier 1 – Clearly an A. We have only dropped one game at the half way mark and that was only in the most controversial circumstances to Hamilton. The coaching staff of Viv Passi and Dan Beckett have done a tremendous job of shaping a new look Wanderers team. Prior to the season kicking off we were questioned as to the quality of our set piece and the loss of so many players from last years Grand Final team. The group has answered these questions in the most emphatic of ways. Mid season we have the best defensive as well as the best points differential in the grade. Still plenty of room for improvement, certainly, but the team is into this competition right up to their eyeballs. In teacher speak our season so far could be summarised as “performing well but with further commitment will realise their potential”.
Premier 2 – Without any doubt an A+. Written off at the start of the year the team is the perfect example of what hard work and passion can do for a bunch of players. This team is clearly the future of our club and if what they have showed this season is how we are going to go in the future then our club is in a healthy state. Pretty much a whole new team, many new even to the game of Rugby have performed above expectations, way above expectations. Again much of the credit must go to the ‘dream team’ coaching staff of Luke Miller and Darren Young. They have melded this bunch of young men into a formidable unit, dropping only one game, the first game of the year to the Greens by just 5-0. Can they go all the way, why not, they have the ability and the desire. Our report card would say “working hard with a positive attitude, certain to have success if they sustain their effort”
Premier 3 – Probably a B at this stage. The team has been hamstrung in the early stages of the year with a number of personnel changes and an ever changing starting line-up. Such is the world of the P3 grade it is always difficult to shuffle players between the grades with P3 being the vehicle for returning players as well as new players to the game of Rugby and to the club. Even through these issues the ‘brains trust’ as they are referred to, have worked hard to have the team sitting firmly in the top five at the half season mark. Their most recent performance against Hamilton was easily their strongest of the year and we will look forward to a much more consistent second half of the year. The report “with more consistent effort the group is sure to achieve a strong outcome by seasons end’.
Colts – A very solid B+. This group of young men, after a reasonably shaky start to their senior Rugby careers are certainly now finding their feet. Getting use to the weekly grind of training and playing, while mixing it in with jobs, school and University have been a delicate balancing act for many of the players. Mid season the team is sitting second and are displaying so much potential it is literally scary what they will produce when it all clicks for them. Coaches Ben Christensen and Blake Walsh are doing a mighty job in not only producing quality young players but also quality young men. Their report card says “with greater application the obvious potential of the team will be reached and we can all look forward to excellent future results”.
Our Junior Club continues to go from strength to strength. Great administration at the top combined with well organised and omitted Junior Coaches and Managers see many of our teams sitting in the top three of their respective competitions. We have attempted to provide opportunities for as many junior teams as possible to play their matches on No 2 Sportsground and while we have been very successful in achieving this goal, it is important to realise that we must work in conjunction with the Newcastle Council to ensure that the Ground is kept as the showpiece it currently is. Our Women’s team is also sitting pretty near the top of the table.
All in all our Club is very healthy and we continue to work hard in ensuring that the current crop of Wanderers, and as importantly, the next crop of Wanderers, are committed and as prepared as possible to carry the two blues into battle. It would also be remiss of me not to mention the tireless efforts of our General Manager Cal McDonald. Having had the pleasure of working closely with Cal over the last nine months, I can confidently tell the Wanderers faithful that the Club is in very good hands. The energy he displays in every facet of the job, and his willingness to do anything for anybody makes dealing with Cal so easy. His extremely intelligent and innovative ideas, coupled with his great people skills, will see Wanderers grow as an all sports Club and remain a dominant player in the Newcastle sporting landscape. Even though we are only half way through the 2017, season plans are already under way of how we will continue to grow our club next year and for the years following. Shortly a group will get together under the leadership of IRB representative Bruce Cook where we will develop strategies aimed at ensuring Wanderers remain the show piece Club in our area for years to come. At the meeting we will formalise strategies around recruitment, around juniors, around our one club structures as well as everything else that could affect Wanderers Club moving forward. Our loyal supporters and members of the Wanderers community can express their ideas and thoughts on anything Wanderers by contacting Cal McDonald through the contact details on the website. The strategies that come out of this meeting will be the subject of the DOR diary before the end of the season. See you at the game!
Bob Harrison, Wanderers Director of Rugby.