The Australian Oztag National Championships will be held this weekend, November 11, 12 and 13 at Coffs Harbour. Again this year, Warialda and Bingara players who play in the Bingara Oztag competition were selected to play for the Tamworth based NSW Northern Bears side.
Northern Bears will be taking away four teams to the tournament this year, Open Men’s, Open Mixed, 35’s Men’s and 40’s Men’s. Mitchell Porter and Robert Kilmore will be playing in the Open Men’s side and Wayne Ford, Alex Stones, Jess Willemse, Kearni Churchland and Hannah O’Rourke will be playing in the Open Mixed division.
These seven players attended three trial days to gain selection and have since been travelling to Tamworth every Sunday morning since August for two hour team training sessions. There, their coaches put them through high intensity fitness training, attacking and defensive drills and game plays and strategies.
The national tournament hosted by Coffs Harbour will be held at the BCU International stadium where there will be fourteen fields in action at any one time over the course of the weekend, with four fields inside the stadium. Games are played Friday afternoon and into the evening, all day Saturday and if successful, teams will play in the finals on Sunday.
Each of the local representatives in the Open Men’s and Mixed divisions will play five 40 minute games with the possibility of three final matches.
These national championships will attract 111 teams from all over Australia, with a large number from the Sydney metropolitan area and also as far away as New Zealand. Players at these tournaments can also consist of NRL players from all grades, such as Matt Utai, who compete in local Oztag competitions in their off seasons.
Northern Bears co coordinator, Pam Potts has been responsible for arranging all four teams’ registrations, uniforms and accommodation at the Sawtell Tourist Park, as well as updating players on training days and times and assisting with fundraising.
2010 was the first year Bingara Oztag Association had six Warialda/Bingara players compete at the National Championships at Coffs Harbour in the Open Men’s and Women’s Divisions. The Open Women’s team only just missed out on playing in the finals.
Also from this tournament Mitchell Porter was selected in the Australian side, as well as two other players from the Northern Bears who travelled to New Zealand.
Since then players from Bingara Oztag have also played in the State Cup at Shell Harbour in April and the Newcastle tournament in July.