The Narrabri Junior Rugby Club was well and truly up against it on Sunday but in typical Blue Boars fashion the club battled its way to success.

Rain, the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic rules and regulations and the uncertainty of being the first cab off the rank in 2020 could not deter the club from putting on one of its most memorable carnivals ever.

Narrabri was chosen to be the destination for the first Central North Junior Rugby Union junior gala day for under-6, under-8, under-10 and under-12 teams after the season start was delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The junior Blue Boars club has worked tirelessly in recent weeks to put procedures in place to run a successful COVID-safe carnival.

With restrictions on venue numbers the Blue Boars ran morning and afternoon sessions across two venues to ensure there was never more than 500 people at the Dangar Park or Cooma Oval fields.

Teams from across the zone travelled to compete and players were excited to be back on the field playing the sport once again.

Narrabri Junior Rugby Club president Mick Coffey was pleased with how smoothly the day ran.

“The carnival went really well,” Coffey told The Courier.

“We were pretty nervous leading up to it but it all worked out well.

“The split locations and the morning and afternoon sessions worked out really well for numbers, it kept us well under the 500.

“Social distancing wasn’t a problem, most people were quite compliant all day and we didn’t have any dramas there, and as far as injuries go we had one kid taken away as a precautionary measure with a neck injury in an ambulance but we followed up on that and it’s a soft tissue injury and he’s fine back home at Armidale.

“Parents were very happy with how we handled the day and that protocols were followed 100 per cent.

“We also had senior club members and other rugby club people come referee and help out local referees.

“Everything ran well.”

Coffey said that Narrabri Junior Rugby Club got the tick of approval from Central North Junior Rugby Union for the way it ran the carnival.

He said that he was confident that other clubs would now have the framework to build their own carnivals around.

“The zone and the other clubs were really happy with it,” Coffey said.

“The intention was to set a high benchmark for the rest of the season, and we’ve been told by the zone it was above and beyond what they were hoping for and the other clubs in one way or another have all complimented and thanked us and have said they have taken a lot away from it for their own carnivals.

“Hopefully that standard now flows on for the whole term.”

Coffey said that the club’s committee, in particular secretary Brighid Campbell, and the Central North Junior Rugby Union committee including his wife Nat Coffey who is the zone secretary, all played crucial roles in making the carnival such a success.

The junior Blue Boars president said that a significant amount of effort went into preparing for the day, especially with the goalposts regularly changing in the lead up to Sunday’s carnival.

On the field the Narrabri Junior Rugby Club enjoyed a successful day.

It fielded four teams, one in each age group, and results combined the under-8s, under-10s and under-12s teams recorded seven wins and just two losses.

In total there were 12 teams in the under-12s, 16 teams in the under-10s, 18 teams in the under-8s and each team brought under-6 players to town.

The under-12s team took on Quirindi, Inverell and Tamworth and won all three games, the under-10s played Tamworth, Moree and Coonabarabran and won two of those three games, and the under-8s played Quirindi, Coonabarabran and Moree and also won two of its three games.

One big difference on the day was that the club was unable to run a canteen, which is usually a great source of income for the club.

However, Coffey said that the club’s future would not be impacted too significantly.

“The downside to not having the canteen open was it is where we raise our money every year,” Coffey said.

“And we spent a fortune on sanitation stuff and hygiene and even signs for the day.

“We might be running a bit lean.

“But we’ll be fine for next year, just like our senior rugby club we have some fantastic sponsors and we are very fortunate that they look after us.

“We’ll be fine, previous committees have worked hard and raised good money and we have generally always been in a good financial position.”

Coffey said that he was pleased that the junior Blue Boars’ home carnival had now been and gone. He said that the club now looked forward to assisting other clubs across the zone in hosting successful carnivals.

“I was buggered last night, I didn’t sleep much on Friday and Saturday night because of weather concerns and all the COVID stuff,” Coffey said.

“I was nervous and last night it was a huge relief. I’m glad it’s over but it was also great at the same time. Now we can spend time just managing our own club and our young players and their families.

“But what we have to do now is make sure we are compliant every week wherever we go, and we can really focus on enjoying our rugby.”

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