PROVEN performers and new contenders – trying to pick a favourite for this Saturday’s Building Durability Bathurst 10s is no easy task.
The third edition of the tournament has attracted its biggest pool of teams yet, with 10 clubs battling it out for the men’s prize and six vying for the inaugural women’s crown.
Two-time defending premiers Easts will return to chase another men’s title, but continuing its stranglehold is something tournament director Mickey Palmer thinks will be tough.
Palmer is hoping his own Red Dog Rugby Club outfit will feature, while the Bathurst Bulldogs – who made the grand final of this year’s Central West Rugby Union Blowes Clothing Cup – present a formidable opponent as well.
“The new teams we’ve got coming in like Wollongong, the new teams from Newcastle are all very much dark horses, so I’m looking forward to seeing them,” Palmer said.
“I do know that Newcastle Seamen are very good, they were runners-up last year and they are quite a sharp outfit and play in lots of tournaments, so they will be a handful without a doubt.
“Red Dog Rugby Club, we are made up of city and country players, so I think we are going to have both the home and away advantage.”
The format of the tournament sees the men’s sides – who also include CSU and Orange Blobfish – play three games each. The ranking after those matches will determine the finalists.
“They are only six minute halves, so you’ve got to hang onto the ball for six minutes and then you’re away. It’s amazing how frustrating it can be when you’re playing and you know you’ve got a good team and you can’t get the ball,” Palmer said.
“I’m excited, I spent a good 10 years in Bathurst, going to Stannies and then did university for awhile there and played for the Bulldogs. So I know the town like the back of my hand, it’s like coming home.”
The competition for the women’s honours will also be stiff and Palmer believes the new section of the draw will add to the excitement.
“It's quite good fun and it's good entertainment and I wanted to make sure I got the women involved this year because it just adds to the fun. We are missing out on half the talent pool if we just play men’s,” he said.
“It’s going to be a cracking weekend, I am super excited. It’s going to be all on for young and old.
“The good thing is that it’s hard and fast rugby on the field, but then we get off the field and have a few frosties and everyone’s best mates.”
Action at Ashwood Park commences at 11.45am. The men’s final is set for 5.30pm and with the women’s to follow at 5.45pm. Afterwards there will be a function at the Panorama Hotel.