Last weekend marked the welcome return of community rugby to the Downs region. After 127 days of an imposed shutdown due to COVID-19, the resilient clubs and schools have worked tirelessly in a voluntary capacity with Downs Rugby and the Queensland Rugby Union to make it happen.
First action was in under 12s on Friday July 17 with Toowoomba Anglican School playing Toowoomba Bears and South Toowoomba Kookaburras playing Highfield Redbacks. These teams would have played at The Armidale School Carnival in April 2020, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. The look on the faces of the juniors aged 5-12 last Saturday and the Under 12s last Friday was priceless - playing rugby with the mateship and camaraderie that it delivers, after a long period of pandemic deprivation.
Wagners Risdon Cup A grade launched with USQ hosting cross-town rival Toowoomba Rangers. Scores were locked at halftime 7-7, before Rangers piled on unanswered second half points to prevail 35 points to 7, earning a bonus competition point being three tries clear at full time. USQ hosted B Grade Toowoomba Rangers with Rangers winning 22-10 in a quality match. Rangers' Brandon Murray earned three points towards the Mal Eiby Medal as voted by the Darling Downs Rugby Referees Association (DDRRA).
Roma Echidnas hosted the Condamine Cods at Fox Gallas Park for the Country Wagners Risdon Cup clash. The Cods prevailed 31 points to 8 over the Echidnas. The Cods' Ben Geldard earned three points towards the Mal Eiby Medal calculations as voted by the DDRRA.
B grade: The Chinchilla River Rats secured a five-point victory over the Roma Echidnas 22-17. The Bill Flamsteed Trophy is with St George after their nail-biting win over Goondiwindi Emus in last year's Grand Final. Last Saturday at Rowden Oval, St George Frillnecks hosted the Toowoomba Bears. In another close encounter for the Frillnecks, defence in the closing stages secured a 13-10 win over the Bears.
Open Women's 7s Emilee Cherry Cup kicked off with USQ and Roma hosting fixtures. Roma Echidnas, the new entrant to the competition, played their first matches against St George Filly Frillnecks, succumbing to last year's grand finalists. At USQ, the Saints hosted Rangers Bullettes, Toowoomba Bears and Warwick Water Rats. The first three weeks of the competition are friendly matches determining weighted seedings from Round 4 on Saturday August 8, with Pool A v Pool B at one venue each week.
Youth Girls' 7s was hosted at Gold Park for Under 13/15/17s. All reports stated the level of play from the teenage girls was excellent considering the imposed break from contact competitive play.
Downs Rugby has secured year two grant funding from the Ramsay-Rugby Australia Foundation for the Darling Downs Super Schools Cup which kicks off from Wednesday July 29 for six weeks, culminating in the finals on Wednesday September 2 at Gold Park. Thank you to Stephen Coren and David Southwood for their assistance. St Mary's College Toowoomba join Mary MacKillop Catholic College, Highfields State Secondary, Scots PGC Warwick, Faith Lutheran Plainland and Toowoomba Anglican School in this teenage boys term 3 competition.
Thank you Downs rugby community for adhering to the Field Sport COVID Safe Industry Plan and also to the socially distanced spectators.