IT’S as close to the Bledisloe Cup as any Australian has been since 2002.
And for any budding rugby union stars in Orange on Tuesday the chance to touch one of the oldest pieces of sporting silverware in the world was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The Bledisloe Cup Roadshow arrived in the city, giving students the opportunity to learn about one of world rugby’s oldest traditions.
“We roll around different areas of the state each year before the Bledisloe Cup matches in Australia,” Australian Rugby Union retention manager Steve Frost said.
“It gives everyone, but especially kids, the chance to see the piece of silverware and to test out their skills in a series of drills.”
On Tuesday, students at Bletchington Public School were put through their paces.
Frost said the Central West was an area in which the ARU had identified as having future Wallabies.
“We target different areas but obviously NSW Country is one of the best in developing young rugby players,” he said.
“We’ve got development officers in the region, out there working. Rugby union, a lot of people play the game in the country, it’s very strong out here and we offer a lot of opportunities for boys and girls to get involved in the sport.”
New Zealand has had a mortgage on the 79-year-old trophy over the last eight years.
And it will last at least one more season.
In 2011, only two Bledisloe Cup matches will be played and even if the Wallabies win both the All Blacks still retain the coveted trophy.
Frost said showcasing the trophy to younger kids would hopefully help promote the game.
“It’s also about getting kids out there and being active. Leading healthy lifestyles,” he said.
“We’re teaching people a lot about the sport but also promote kids leading active lives and rugby is just one vehicle in doing that.”
Made in 1931 in England, the Bledisloe Cup weighs in at 9kg.
Throw in the solid wood base and you’ve got yourself a total of 21kg of rugby union silverware that has ignited trans-Tasman rivalry for decades.
Frost said although the All Blacks are the No.1 side in the world, the Wallabies could bounce back come next year’s World Cup.
“We all know that New Zealand peak between World Cups, so hopefully next year we can come away with the win,” he said.