If you were to ask most country Rugby League fans the whereabouts of Ivanhoe, many might greet you with a blank expression.
The small town of Ivanhoe is based in the Central Darling Shire and is based between the Lachlan and Darling Rivers, boasting a modest population of just over 300.
Despite the town’s small stature in terms of population, Ivanhoe is a proud Rugby League community, with their Roosters competing in the Proten Community Cup.
“It’s a small little town, but there are a fair few players that have been here for a few years,” Roosters coach Kodie Charles said.
“We have drawn in a few players from different areas but a lot of them are farmers that live in and around Ivanhoe itself.
“There are all sorts of blokes, and a few live in town too.”
In 2022, the Roosters have been fighting well above their weight division, and with only one round left in the Proten Cup competition until finals kick off, they are on top of the table and only one win away from a Minor Premiership and home Semi-final.
Capping off what has been a fairy tale season, the Roosters did away with reigning premiers, Rankin Springs on Saturday, with Ivanhoe getting up 30-10 when playing in Goolgowi.
“We are going great, and it does fill me with pride,” Charles said.
“For the last couple of weeks, we have been telling the boys what we want them to do at training; things like hold onto the ball and make your tackles.
“We have been building nicely, and to see them do it on Saturday and beat a team like Rankin Springs was really good.”
A big group of players took some time to gel, but Charles explained that his playing group have come together the further the season has progressed.
“It is a tight-knit group,” Charles said.
“At the start of the year, it was hard to get everyone there and blokes couldn’t train but once everyone saw how good we were going and all the positive things, it soon changed.
“Everyone became a lot closer because they know we are building something pretty special.”
Charles named plenty of players who have stood tall for Ivanhoe in 2022, but he said there was one man leading the group from the front.
“It’s been a team effort, but the likes of Victor Ward have helped; he’s our halfback and he’s from Wilcannia,” Charles said.
“He has been our best player so far, and he has really led us around the park. It makes it so much easier on other players when you have someone like him.”
The Roosters play fifth-placed Goolgowi on Saturday in the final round, and a win will guarantee Ivanhoe a home semi-final and a second bite at the cherry come finals.
“I have already spoken to a few boys, and just because Goolgowi are coming second last, we can’t take them lightly,” Charles said.
“Everything could go out the window if we don’t show up, so we need to get there on Saturday and put our best foot forward.”
When asked if Ivanhoe could go all the way in 2022, Charles stressed only if they show up with the right attitude each week.
“Hands down, I think we can win it,” Charles said
“It will come down to the boy’s attitude and whether they want it, but if we play to our best, I definitely think we can win it.”
The second-placed Narrandera look to be Ivanhoe’s biggest threat to the Proten Cup title in 2022, and Charles agreed, hinting the Lizards would be hard to beat if they meet them in the finals.
“I would say Narrandera are the team to beat,” Charles said.
“We played them in Ivanhoe the other week, and I know they didn’t have a full-strength team, but they were good, and if they do have a full-strength team, they will be a force to be reckoned with.”
In a big Round Six of the Proten Cup action, all teams will play in Barellan on Saturday, with Ivanhoe playing Goolgowi, Rankin Springs taking on Hillston, while in the game of the day, Barellan take on arch-rivals, Narrandera.
Proten Cup Round Five results: Narrandera 32 def Hillston 18; Ivanhoe def Rankin Springs 30-10; Goolgowi def Barellan 28-18.
Proten Cup ladder: Ivanhoe 8, Narrandera 6, Rankin Springs 6, Barellan 4, Goolgowi 4, Hillston 2.
Group 20 Round 10 results: Darlington Point-Coleambally def Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo 44-14; Griffith Black and Whites def Leeton40-16; West Wyalong def Yenda 22-18; Yanco-Wamoon def Griffith Waratahs-Tigers.
Group 20 Round 11 draw: Darlington Point-Coleambally v Hay; Griffith Waratahs-Tigers v Griffith Black and Whites; Leeton v Yenda; Yanco-Wamoon v Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo
Group 20 ladder: Darlington Point-Coleambally 20, Leeton 16, Griffith Black and Whites 16, Griffith Waratahs-Tigers 12, West Wyalong 12, Yenda 8, Hay 8, Yanco 4, Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo 4.
Group 9 Round Nine results: Tumut def Kangaroos 14-nil; Gundagai def Temora 32-20; Albury def Brothers 22-16; Southcity and Young had byes.
Group 9 Round 10 draw: Young v Kangaroos; Tumut v Albury; Gundagai v Brothers; Temora and Southcity on the bye.
Group 9 ladder: Gundagai 17, Young 16, Temora 14, Albury 11, Tumut 10, Kangaroos 8, Brothers 8, Southcity 4.