This weekend is the product of blood, sweat and tears on and off the field. Our fourth grade side compete in the grand final on Friday against Merewether, and Premier 1 first grade takes on Hamilton on Saturday.
Since winning our last premiership in the top grade 19 years ago Maitland Rugby Club has ridden the rugby rollercoaster – mostly being competitive, but hitting some dark depths in the mid 2000’s to the last grand final appearance in 2010 against you guessed it, Hamilton. With the rugby landscape changing, becoming a little more professional each year, MRC is starting to get the mix right with our strong junior program feeding our senior club but also being in a position to attract elite players.
Saturday’s match has been a culmination of hundreds of hours of planning and countless ups and downs. There have been many make or break points but the MRC family always stuck together. I am not only proud of what we have but also in awe of our club.
There are many stories going into Saturday’s game. Michael Howell, James Johnson, Nick Davidson and Dan Runchel played in the 2010 GF as young bucks and get their second chance at glory. Mick Hickling who also played in the 2010 side will call the shots from the sideline. The McCormack brothers re-unite, one on the field and the other next to Hicko at the helm. The Uini brothers who were in Sydney and Newcastle at the start of the year have found a home in Maitland. Pat Batey plays in his first senior grand final after his father Dave played in first grade many (many) moons ago. The unfortunate misfortune of Waratah has seen MRC welcome Manu and Soe and the balcony of Old Boys have enjoyed everything they have added to our club. Chris Logan and Travis Brooke have combined again in Maitland after winning premierships together in Scotland. The future of the club in Stafford, Ulberg and Wood, playing beyond their years. Maitland Rugby’s oldest rookie of the year last year Dale Clacherty is first picked every week this year. The sting of a Birrell hit in attack or defence is something to look forward to. Dan Runchel, playing in the best form of his career plays his 250th grade game for Maitland and the stories go on.
On Saturday a new story will be written and these men have the world at their feet. There is no question in their minds how it is going to play out and the MRC family will be right behind them every second of the 80 minutes.
Go the Blacks!