May 5, 2018 – lock it in, there’s nowhere else you’ll want to be that day than Wade Park.
If you didn’t think Orange Emus’ Blowes Clothing Cup grand final rematch against Forbes that day was juicy enough, well, it’s just been made a whole lot more exciting because that’s the day Eastern Suburbs will return to the colour city – in force.
Following last year’s hugely successful Intrust Super Shute Shield clash with Gordon at Orange, the Beasties will continue their now-annual trip to the country and face the Parramatta Two Blues this time around.
But there’s one big difference this year, it’s not just the top grade coming.
Expanding on last year’s fixture, Easts’ second XV will also front against the two blues at Wade Park and the two clubs are in the process of negotiating a women’s game as well.
“We gave Parramatta the opportunity to not only bring their Shute Shield side, but to also bring their second XV as well,” Easts president John Murray explained.
“They, as it stands, have accepted that offer which is pretty exciting.
“I know that day was already a (Blowes Clothing Cup) grand final rematch between Emus and Forbes, so it’s exciting for us to be able to be a part of that day as well.
“At this stage we’re also looking at playing a women’s game that day too, it hasn’t been confirmed, but we’d definitely love to do that as well.”
While the Emus-Forbes clash will be the first since the Platypi stunned the greens in the 2017 grand final to secure their first premiership since 2003, the Shute Shield fixture should be a hugely exciting affair too.
We gave Parramatta the opportunity ... to bring their second XV as well.Easts president John Murray
The common thought was the Beasties underachieved in finishing ninth last year, while Parramatta finished just two spots further down in 11th and will be desperate to improve on that in 2018.
Adding another exciting aspect to the Blowes Clothing Cup game, Emus have lost the likes of five-eighth Mitch Evers, fullback AJ Sykes and winger Carter Hirini while Forbes is expected to field an almost identical XV to last year.
Last year’s Shute Shield clash was the weekly TV game, Emus and Orange City’s lower grades and juniors kicked the day off before Easts and Gordon faced off at 3.15pm.
The top grade local derby was played under lights and Emus president Steve Fergus explained he’s hopeful the format will be similar for this year’s blockbuster round.
“The finer details are still be confirmed, but we’ll be trying to lock those in sooner rather than later,” Fergus said.
“We think it was a huge success having the wallas play throughout the day, and having the senior top grade play under lights and I know the Easts and Gordon guys really enjoyed being able to watch some good country rugby after their game.
“It was a great experience for all our players and the young kids too, so we’re really hopeful that we can replicate that again this year against the Platypi.”