Tom Robertson, Tom Coolican and Al Ryan scrum up against a SUFC filled Waratah pack, including Jeremy Tilse

It may only seem like yesterday since the 2014 Shute Shield Grand Finals, but the start of the 2015 Club Rugby season is already fast approaching, with SUFC having played their first pre-season trial against the NSW Waratahs on Saturday at Granville Park.

As part of their official Fan Day, the NSW Waratahs played 3 of Sydney’s Shute Shield teams in consecutive 30-minute practice matches, including a game against Randwick, Parramatta and SUFC.

The day brought in an eager rugby crowd, and coinciding with the Semi-Final and Final of the Willie O Cup, Granville Park was buzzing with music and food stalls, as well as giving plenty of opportunities for fans to get up close to Waratah players.

For SUFC however, the focus was on the rugby, with the game acting as the perfect chance to gauge their pre-season progress against a very quality opposition.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for our players to have some meaningful football against the Waratahs squad on the weekend” said SUFC Head Coach, Chris Malone.

“We spend so long training that it is good to play football, but most importantly the weekend’s game allowed us to see where we are at in terms of our preparation. We are driving a great program here in terms of long term player development which will hopefully benefit us, and the Waratahs, in time. So to be able to help the Waratahs with preparation for Super Rugby was good.”

SUFC opened the scoring with Mitchell Whiteley barging over following a penalty, and Byron Hodge adding the extras from the sideline. However, the Waratahs team were too strong, eventually coming away as 22-7 victors. 

Despite acknowledging that there were some areas of the game that will require further attention before the season officially begins, Malone was still able to recognise a number of positives within the performance and is happy with where they boys are at.

“The game started well and we showed that we know how to play some decent rugby, and having had only one session with boots on (we train all summer in joggers so as not to tear up the cricket ovals), I was reasonably pleased and confident we are tracking in the right direction” he said.

“There were lapses and things we got wrong, largely due to the fact that we were probably over keen, but that just allowed us to see exactly what we need to do better. Overall, the trial gave us exactly what we want and we now have the next 5 weeks to work on our total game prior to our first trial against Eastwood on March 7th”.”

The presence of SUFC players on the day was not limited to those who pulled on the Blue and Gold hoops for the game, with plenty of Students in the sky Blue as well.

Even our Ball Kids, Jackson and Max, were there working hard!

“SUFC contributes so much to rugby in NSW so it was good to see so many of our players playing for the Tahs also” said Malone.

This included the likes established Waratahs players, including Jeremy Tilse, Peter Betham, Bernard Foley, Israel Folau, Nick Phipps, Paddy Ryan, Pat McCutcheon, Will Skelton and Tolu Latu, as well as new pre-season training squad members, Henry Clunies-Ross, Jim Stewart and Matt Philip. Jack McCalman and Christian Yassmin also joined the Waratahs for the day, pulled in from the Gen Blue U20s squad.

A big day out for SUFC and a great start to the pre-season trials. Make sure you check back on our site for details about other upcoming trials and pre-season tournaments. We would love your support.