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Players enjoy post-season 'friendly'

A connection made over the past couple of years between Sydney’s De La Salle Rugby League club and the Clontarf Academy on the NSW mid-north coast resulted in a ‘friendly’ being played in Taree last weekend.

No-one kept track of the scores because that wasn’t the priority.

“The De La Salle Under 16s trip at the end of the season has been happening for 30 years,” coach Alan Wilson told

“It’s been more about fun and friendship more than anything and less about winning or trophies.

“Two years ago, I wanted to do something different to broaden the horizons of our players, rather than just go to a fun park or water slide.

“I introduced the club to the Clontarf Academy, and we’ve been doing some fundraising for them to help with gear and equipment.”

The Clontarf Academy began in Western Australia for Indigenous high school-age boys wanting to play Aussie Rules. It has been in NSW with a Rugby League focus since 2012.

De La Salle is one of Sydney’s oldest and best-known junior clubs, producing True Blues Andrew Ettingshausen and Adam MacDougall.

“So, we got a game up there in Taree this year,” Wilson said.

“It let the players and their parents experience what life is life for others in the Rugby League community, who might not have things as good as we do.”

The club went to Coonamble and Coonabarabran, west of Tamworth, last year.

“They came back from that trip with their eyes more open to what other people are going through.”

Tyler (L) and Tashiem Abbott at KARI Foundation camp at NSWRL.
Tyler (L) and Tashiem Abbott at KARI Foundation camp at NSWRL.

This year the Clontarf Academy team enjoyed a comfortable win – four tries to fullback Tashiem Abbott, although Wilson didn’t keep a scoresheet going.

“The Clontarf boys came out on top,” he said.

“It was a good game – Tashiem didn’t need the yellow helmet to stand out. His speed, agility and catching skills let everyone know he was ‘in the house’.”

His twin brother Tyler wasn’t available to play. The pair earned a reputation for resilience when, aged 12, they joined their uncle Barry Watts on a fund-raising 600km camel trek from Alice Springs to Taree for a chance to attend high school and play Rugby League with the Clontarf Academy.

They were part of a three-day camp at NSWRL’s Centre of Excellence last November held for Indigenous players state-wide for the KARI Foundation Talented Aboriginal Athletes Program (TAAP).

“It is truly amazing that sport has the power to change lives and these two happy smiling boys are a testament to that,” Wilson said.

“We were so grateful to have been part of a great Rugby League experience last weekend and it was highlighted when we gave away our De La Salle jerseys to all the Clontarf boys. The Clontarf team then presented us with a signed jersey.”

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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