The Sydney Combined Forces Rugby Football Club has come a long way in a very short space of time.
Led by a committed group of veterans, they’re a club built on a powerful mission and with big plans. They’ve already packed their first scrum on the field and are ready to kick important goals off it too.
Up and running
With a squad of 24 players, a support crew, major sponsor, training pitch and home ground, the club’s buzzing and has already kicked off their debut season in the NSW Suburban Rugby Union competition.
The club’s leadership team is tremendously grateful to the Sylvania Bulldogs for their support in getting them off the ground and for taking them in with open arms. Rugby’s a sport with a strong tradition within the ADF, and the SCFRFC is hoping to bring that same courage, endurance and sacrifice to community football fields.
The team had only had two proper training sessions to prepare ahead of their first game at Engadine earlier this month – and they had to take on last years’ premiers the Cronulla Sea Lice. They performed phenomenally well for their first hit out and the signs are promising for the season ahead.
More than rugby
The club is about much more than winning breakdowns and scoring trys. It’s been established as a support network for serving members, former serving veterans and their families.
“We’re a vehicle to help people,’” says Mark Newman, a seven year serving member with the Royal Australian Navy and 22 year Royal Navy veteran. “Rugby’s important but not as important as helping our members. We want people to know they’ve got somewhere else to go.”
James Manderson agrees: “We’re trying to close that gap when someone discharges and enters full civilian life.”
James joined the navy in 2007 as part of the Fleet Support Unit on the HMAS Kuttabul. He grew up playing rugby league but made the transition to rugby union when he joined the navy.
“All we had was rugby union,” says James. “So I jumped in. That was 13 years ago. I find not having to run back the 10 metres much easier to play!”
Not only is Veteran Sport Australia looking forward to promoting the club, getting behind its mission and encouraging veterans to join, but so is our Sporting Partner Rugby 1st.
Founder Angus Stewart believes that the club and its ambitions make them a perfect fit for the Rugby 1st ‘VET Friendly Club’ program. (For more info visit https://veteransport.org.au/sporting-partners/).
The club’s already looking ahead to next season and beyond. They’ve got big plans and are hoping to support as many veterans and their families as possible.
The club’s looking to establish a Halligan Cup team, a women’s team and would like to branch out into other sports over time. They’re also committed to attaining mental health qualifications in their next phase of growth and will be rolling out training in the future.
Jim Grey is a 30 year veteran of the Australian Army and is the Vice President of the SCFRFC. He’s also the Assistant Coach and contributes in all areas of running the club, including leading on health and wellbeing. Jim is encouraging any interested veterans – current and former serving – and family members to become involved.
“We’re a group of like-minded people with similar experiences,” says Jim. “We’re a club for veterans to support health and wellbeing. Everybody’s welcome. It doesn’t matter what your standard of rugby is.”
If you’re interested in getting involved in the Sydney Combined Forces Rugby Football Club – as a player, support crew or supporter – please get in contact!