“IT’S a huge thing for Orange. The more they do like this the better it is for the whole sport.”
And with one line, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School principal Kerrie Basha nailed the entire purpose of the Bush2Bledisloe, a rugby union tour that landed in Orange on Tuesday among a groundswell of support for the 15-man code.
Mrs Basha’s school was one of the lucky three, along with Catherine McAuley and Anson Street schools, to enjoy Bledisloe Cup hosting rights yesterday morning ahead of the Wallabies hitting town.
With the schools in the midst of rugby union fever, Mrs Basha believes promotions like the Bush2Bledisloe tour have potentially huge, long-lasting benefits for the sport.
And the fact the monster trophy was on show at her school virtually ensured the entire St Mary’s community was now behind the Wallabies in their bid to bring back the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.
“How impressive is it?” Mrs Basha beamed at the cup.
“As the children were coming through the door, seeing their faces and hearing them say how big it is, they were quite amazed.
“It gives a really nice personal feel to it too.
“We often hear about the negatives in sport and the negatives of competition, but there’s a lot of positives and this is a lovely way for them to promote it.”
Arguably the most impressive piece of silverware in the world, the Bledisloe Cup is awe-inspiring up close.
Donated by former New Zealand Governor-General Lord Bledisloe in 1931, the cup now famed by Wallabies and All Blacks contests weighs a whopping 21 kilograms.
The Australian Rugby Union’s James Gellert said events like yesterday’s school tour were important to connect with the kids.
“They’re the future of the game,” he added.
“To get them on board and supporting the national rugby team is a massive thing for us. That’s something we’re really working towards.”
He said the reaction to the tour so far had been “absolutely awesome”.
So much so, future pilgrimages to rugby heartland areas like the central west may not be as few and far between in years to come.
“Hopefully next year we’ve got the trophy on a full-time basis and we can do more with it, but this is great,” Mr Gellert said, the initiative belonging to Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie.
“It’s Ewen’s idea to take everyone out for a week and spend a week with their preparation out here. I think it’s an awesome initiative and one we’ll want to keep doing.”