Mudgee was more than just the venue for the Super Rugby trial match between the NSW Waratahs and the ACT Brumbies, thanks to a jam-packed schedule on Friday and Saturday locals had plenty of time to get up close and personal with the team in blue.
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Before the team ran out onto Glen Willow, they conducted school visits, coaching clinics for junior and senior players and coaches, got out and about to judge the best dressed business competition, as well as team up with local Rugby club the Mudgee Wombats for a special night at Parklands resort.
While many locals were thrilled to play host, the enthusiasm wasn’t lost on the Waratahs with Bernard Foley expressing his appreciation.
“For us to come out to these rural towns and see how much joy and passion there is for Rugby, especially in the kids, and the joy they get from seeing a couple of players is awesome,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed being here in Mudgee, in the time we’ve spent here the hospitality the people have shown us is great – the town is right behind the Waratahs, they’re calling it Tah Town.
“The Waratahs represent the whole state of NSW, it’s not just the metropolitan areas it’s the country and rural areas as well.”
A school visit that was particularly special for Mudgee’s own Waratah, Matt Sandell, was his old stomping ground St Matthew’s.
He and teammate Andrew Kellaway took part in a Q&A session with students, talking about playing for the Tahs, Super Rugby opposition teams, women's rugby, and more.
Andrew Palmer, of the Mudgee Chamber of Commerce, said that the weekend was huge for local business and it wasn’t just the Rugby that was bringing flocks of visitors to the region.
“There were clearly a lot of people in town, a lot of people were here for the golf as well the Celebrity Classic always brings a lot here, our Chamber Breakfast was very well attended, and to have the Rugby was great,” he said.
“I spoke to a lot of people out at the Rugby that weren’t from Mudgee, they were all staying here, and nothing but positive things to say about the town.
“It was busy over the entire weekend, so that can only be good news for local business.
“And no doubt so many of those people will be coming back.
“One of the Rugby Clubs that were here for the juniors said they were going to try and organise future trial matches for their players here in Mudgee.”
He added that he hopes to see more big events come to town and Mudgee won’t have to wait long because in May it will also host the final ever City vs Country Origin Rugby League match.
“City-Country will be a massive event and I wouldn’t be surprised if that sells out, especially with the support of Country Rugby League that’s here,” he said.
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