State rugby union championship to boost long-weekend visitation

BIG WEEKEND: Paul and David Whitehouse from Randwick and organiser Deryck Ward with Jett and Shane Fender check out the Emus pitch. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

BIG WEEKEND: Paul and David Whitehouse from Randwick and organiser Deryck Ward with Jett and Shane Fender check out the Emus pitch. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Close to 500 rugby union players from 16 teams are converging on Orange this weekend for the NSW Under 14s State Championship.

With players are bringing parents, siblings, coaches and extended family members, the championship is set to give the town a financial boost. 

Deryck Ward and Penny Fisher helped organise the event and Mr Ward said it’s estimated the rugby championship will bring in $1 million to Orange through accommodation, food and entertainment costs. 

He said the event’s future was in jeopardy a few years ago due to a lack of facilities but Emus and Orange City combined resources to make sure it went ahead.

This weekend he said teams will include those from country zones, which will be well represented along with teams from across Sydney.

“The only state side they let come is the ACT Brumbies,” Mr Ward said.

The 16 teams will play in four pools of four with the top teams of each pool going into the semi finals, followed by the major semis and the finals on Monday.

However, Mr Ward said all teams will play throughout the weekend and at the end will each get a ranking.

Orange Region Tourism general manager Caddie Marshall said the Queen’s Birthday long-weekend usually had a high number of visitors and there are plenty of places families can go when not watching the rugby.

“This is a traditionally busy weekend for us,” she said.

“Any event where we get lots of people coming in it just is terrific because it gets a lot of business.” 

Orange City Council Employment and Economic Development Committee chairman Jeff Whitton said almost every accommodation option is booked out and that is a sign of a healthy business sector.

“Around 500 young players and officials are in town and many have come with their parents and supporters who go shopping and visit  the local sights between games,” Cr Whitton said.

“A number of our cellar doors say the junior rugby weekends are some of their busiest weekends of the year.”

Cr Whitton said the number of inquiries at the Visitors Centre is up 50 per cent on the figure from May last year and although there have been a few late cancellations, staff are expecting them to be re-booked.

“Most people will book ahead and then explore new directions nearby if Orange is booked out.”

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