The Men of League Foundation’s Tackling the Drought Tour was recently held from Friday 5 October through to Sunday 7 October, which saw five buses full of former first grade rugby league players venture off to five various drought affected regions of New South Wales.
Bus 1 – New England
The touring party arrived in Glen Innes on Friday evening and were quickly greeted by smiling faces at the Kick Off Club. The travellers enjoyed touching base with those from the wide ranging rugby league community, which was as strong as ever within the New England region. After enjoying a movie night in Inverell on Saturday, the weekend was capped off with a glorious Sunday morning BBQ Brekky and game of touch footy in Armidale!
Bus 2 – Upper Hunter
On Friday night, the Upper Hunter region bus headed to Coolah for a Kick Off Club where the turnout was a strong one! Day two saw the crew visit Coolah Sporting Ground for a footy clinic before stopping over at Cassilis to catch up with the locals and take the time to understand the devastation the drought has brought to the land and communities. The team ended the day with a comedy show featuring ventriloquist Darren Carr at Merriwa RSL. The bus stopped via Scone on the way home to say g’day to the locals and enjoy a bacon & egg roll before their journey home.
Bus 3 – Western Region
A long journey out to Narromine was aided by a pit stop in Mudgee for lunch at the Oriental Hotel. Despite leaving Sydney in the midst of an absolute downpour, the touring party quickly realised that the rain hadn’t made it out this far. Upon arriving in Narromine, the locals were quick to introduce themselves with a hearty cheer, before settling in to watch Rugby League the Musical by Dennis Carnahan. NRL merchandise was distributed far and wide throughout the night. A coaching clinic at Cale Oval kicked off day two of the Tour, before heading to Trangie for lunch. The final stop for Saturday was Gilgandra, where over 75 locals came down to the local Bowls Club to meet and greet some of the players. A gorgeous Sunday morning then greeted the weary party, who jumped off the bus for a run around game of touch and BBQ brekky in Mudgee, before continuing back to Sydney.
Bus 4 – Central West
The Central West town of Parkes was the first destination for Bus 4, who arrived on Friday evening and warmed the locals with stories from their playing days and chatting to them about some of the struggles they have faced in recent times. Following a skills clinic on Saturday morning, the bus headed over to Cowra for the Memorial Challenge at Sid Kallas Oval, where a Foundation tent was set up to chat to the rugby league fans on the day, before heading off to the Memorial Services Club to enjoy a meal in each other’s company. The activities were not over however, as the bus on Sunday at 9:00 AM ventured to Forbes for the Ron Lynch bowls day. Following a fantastic morning of laughs and bowls, the bus headed back east to the big smoke of Sydney.
Bus 5 – Riverina
After a long day on the road, the touring party were excited to arrive in Griffith on Friday evening and mingle with the locals at the Leagues Club. On Saturday, the bus went to Rankin Springs, which has a population of 300. It appeared that almost the entire town had turned up to greet the bus at the local Conapaira Hotel for lunch! An incredible day with plenty of laughs, tears and memories that will last a lifetime. The bus returned to Griffith, before venturing back to Sydney on Sunday, however not before a coffee, sausage sizzle and final chat was shared in the town of Narrandera.
The tour could not have been made possible without the support of Lion Co. Australia. Their generous efforts allowed the Foundation to reach out to those who are in need of it most in the drought affected regions.