The Nations of Origin came to a spectacular finish at Raymond Terrace with the North Yuin Snakes Boys side and the North Dharawal Humpback Whales Girls side claiming the Tournament Cup in today’s epic Finals.
The Snakes clinched a heart-stopping 22-16 victory over Dunghutti while the Humpback Whales sealed a 26-10 win against Gandangarra.
The two-day jam-packed Sevens Tournament was a roaring success yet again for over 750 players and 62 teams that played a mammoth 160 games.
Since its inception three years ago, the event has gone from strength to strength and PCYC Community Engagement Manager Paula Skinner is the driving force of the Nations of Origin tournament and its goals to promote Indigenous reconciliation and cultural diversity.
“Back in 2012, I wanted to improve the process of Indigenous reconciliation at the youth level,” Skinner said. “Rugby League is a great way to do that. It teaches teamwork, as well as resilience and development.
“In response to the success of 2013, this year’s event has seen the tournament grow from a 35 to 62-team tournament with 26 Aboriginal Nations competing across NSW and ACT.”
NSW Indigenous Rugby League Manager Steve Hall said: “I didn’t even think it would get to this stage to be honest. We had to have a cut off for teams this year.
“It’s the only time Aboriginal Nations have the opportunity to compete against each other.”
Participating teams consist of eight Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders and four non-Aboriginal players, with each team designing their own jerseys in what was a wildly colourful event.
“It’s not only about Indigenous Youth – it’s about reconciliation with all the kids learning about the culture,” Hall said. “Each team designs their own jerseys which are funded by the PCYC to encourage local elders to get the community and their totems involved.
“It’s a great way for kids to appreciate their history and tradition, as well as for non-Indigenous kids to learn about it too.”
As well as promoting Indigenous reconciliation, the Nations of Origin is also aiming for gender parity too.
“It’s all about equality,” Skinner said. “The girls want the same opportunities to play as the boys.”
The tournament is testament to the popularity of Rugby League in the indigenous community and only continues to grow with the prominence of Aboriginal superstars such as Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston, Sam Thaiday and Alex Johnston as well as the highly-anticipated Indigenous All Stars clash each pre-season.
The rise of the Nations of Origin Tournament is testament for Skinner who works tirelessly to stage the event.
“To me, it’s the faces on the kids that make it all worth it,” Skinner said. “Every year when I see the opening ceremony and the kids marching past with pride with flags and jerseys – to me, that’s the icing on the cake.”
2015 NATIONS OF ORIGIN RESULTS:
Boys: North Yuin Snakes 22 bt Dungutti 16
Girls: North Dharawal Humpback Whales 26 bt Gandangarra 10
Boys: Wiradjuki MG 12 bt Tharawal 8
Girls: Yuin Ducks 24 bt Tharawal A 0
Boys: Kuring-Gai 20 bt Bundjalung Goannas 12
Girls: Tharawal B 10 bt Kamilaroi United 6
Boys: Wiradjuri Guugas 18 bt Awabakal 14
Girls: Darug 14 bt Dhungutti 4