Following the COVID-disrupted 2020, school rugby league carnivals are back on the agenda this year, with the first event taking place earlier this week with the running of the ET Shield for primary schools.
A seven-a-side, non-competitive gala day, the ET Shield saw 37 teams, in both boys and girls divisions, representing 10 local area schools.
Teams from Gymea Bay, Laguna Street, Marton, Miranda North, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady Star Of The Sea, Sutherland Shire Christian, St Joseph’s, St Patrick’s and Yarrawarrah primary schools participated on the day, with Sharks legend Brett Kimmorley on hand to kick off the event.
Kimmorley reminded students about playing for the love of the game, something which attracted him to rugby league as a youngster, a love he has retained to this day.
Former Sharks premiership-winning hooker Michael Ennis and recently retired NRL star Byson Goodwin were other notable rugby league identities involved in lending their assistance as team coaches.
A highlight of the ET Shield in 2021 was the fact it marked the first time the senior girls (Years 5-6) could play in their own division, after previously competing in mixed competitions in years’ past.
“In the first few games the girls were a little timid until they realised that it didn’t hurt, then from that point you knew when the girls were playing from the cheers and excitement they generated,” Huw Ellis from NRL Game Development explained.
Of the 330-plus students taking part across the day, over 100 don’t play Junior League or had never played the game previously.
“That being the case it was another positive in that we were able to introduce the game to so many new players, with the hope they continue to play either at a school or junior club level, maybe touch or League Tag, at some point in the future,” Ellis added.
Organisers of the ET Shield also expressed a massive thank you to the Taren Point Titans for running a canteen and hosting the day and to the Endeavour Sports High Students who refereed the games, doing so in the correct spirit in proudly representing their school.