Warren Blissett put the word out in the Gloucester area of NSW’s mid-north coast hinterland that some Minis Rugby League clinics were taking place in the town.
“The first clinic I was expecting between eight to 10 to show up and we had 18,” Blissett said.
“The second one I thought around 30 would come and we got 42.
“Soccer has been on the rise in the town, but I thought it was time Rugby League fought back.”
The response has been so overwhelming that it now looks like the Gloucester Magpies can rise from the ashes and field teams once again.
The club hasn’t been able to do that for seven years according to Blissett, the Group 3 Junior Rugby League President.
“We’ve got the club up and running again, with registrations open and at least one coach who is very interested,” he said.
“It’s now about getting logistics together.
“It looks like we’ll have three teams – the Magpies are reborn for the first time since 2015.”
The Magpies are hoping to enter teams in the Under 7s, Under 9s and Under 11s for the 2022 season, which is due to start in July and join sides already established in Wingham, Taree, Old Bar and Forster-Tuncurry.
The 2021 competition was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions extending into regional NSW.
Blissett is proud that Rugby League has forced its way back into the sporting landscape. He puts that down mainly to the roaring success of the Gloucester Minis clinics held in February.
“The only reason it happened was that we pushed really hard for the Minis League days and I had great support from the NSWRL and some NRL officials from places like Muswellbrook and Port Macquarie to help run the sessions,” he said.
The kids aged from six to 13 years-old took part in passing and kicking skills, plus practical techniques from the ‘Rugby League Ready’ program.
As Vice-President of the Group 3 Seniors competition Blissett is on the scout for helpers so the Gloucester Magpies black-and-white colours can fly once again.
In addition to a few interested coaches, he’s already had people willing to help the Juniors by becoming referees and sideline officials.
“It’s all systems go and that’s a great thing,” he said.