SHOALHAVEN Rugby Club has been a force in the Illawarra District Rugby Union (IDRU) Competition for nearly 45 years.
This competition has seen clubs emerge, die out and amalgamate over these years but has always provided a steady stream of world class players onto the representative scene.
Top drawer rugby players such as Brian Weir, Geoff Shaw, Gary Grey, James Grant and Scott Fava emerged from Kiama to the highest honours, while Vikings produced John Coolican and Mark McInnes.
Together with many Shoals representative players, such as Andrew Walker, Alex Kanaar, and Will Miller, these top class rugby players have graced the rugby parks throughout the Illawarra over the years.
The long term and ever earnest spectator at local rugby games would have keenly watched as young locally bred players turn into champions or at the very least extremely competent rugby practitioners.
Shoals has always had a strong focus on junior player development and many of its players have earned representative honours.
Some of these include Paul Webster, Scott Jones, Harper Jarrett, Tim Eddy, Keiran Wallace, Steve and Kyle Harrison and Leith Cooper.
Players nowadays start at a young age and the mores of rugby are instilled into them as they progress through the ranks.
It is a most physical game but one played within tight rules of sportsmanship, fair play and teamwork but with room for individual flair and brilliance.
While there are “softer” options for participating in team sports, there are few that offer the long term relationships built on the rugby field, nor through the social cohesion built off it.
Also, very few other team sports accommodate the all shapes and sizes option that rugby offers; from the slow bulky players to the stream-lined whippets through the lanky lads to the positions that make the real difference like the fleet footed yet enormously strong breakaways.
But rugby is not just an on field players’ paradise.
It is often off the field where much of the enjoyment flows.
While training nights can be difficult, the post-match and post-training activities provide some of the most memorable of times.
Rugby camaraderie is not just a legend it has gained immortal status over the years and throughout the world.
It flows not just through the club but also across competitions and across geographical boundaries.
The network of rugbyites provides a lifetime of contacts as former players and supporters roam the world.
Shoals has fared well in the trophy stakes over the years winning a host of grand finals in the various grades.
In a fortuitous, if not ordained sequence of events, Shoals Rugby Club was in 2008 awarded its first and so far only opportunity to host the IDRU Senior Grand Finals.
The club ran a successful day which was greatly appreciated by all who attended.
Shoals’ first grade side, comprising many of its former successful junior players, reached the grand final this year.
In a game of high class, fast, open and vigorous rugby, Shoals overcame a tenacious and very strong and more favoured opponent, the Avondale Wombats. Shoals worked hard to tame Avondale but having done so opened up a wide margin on the score board.
This was an historic win for this great side as Shoals had never previously taken home the grand final trophy in first grade.
The club has excellent facilities at Shoalhaven Ricoh Rugby Park at Flinders Road, South Nowra.
It has two support fields and a first class top grades ovals, well-constructed shelter stands, a visual splendor of an electronic scoreboard and a fine club house.
During the season the club organises various home game social activities such as Digger Day, Green Steam Day and other thematic activities.
As Shoals enter the season it is seeking players and supporters to join up and enjoy the many fruits that involving oneself in rugby has on offer.
The club is well administered, financial through the generous support of its sponsors, but is always seeking people to assist with the many jobs that are part of running a successful rugby club.
Players from six to 60 are always welcome, while referees and people for other support activities always are needed to fill gaps each year.
Details for the club are available on www.shoalhaven.rugbynet.