After two years of competing in the Under 13s as a joint team, the Cowra Eagles and Canowindra Pythons have formalised an agreement to compete as one entity in the Under 13s and 15s next season in the Central West Junior Rugby competitions.
The move comes after a successful season in which the joint 13s team finished just shy of a grand final appearance, with both clubs happy with the development of the side throughout the year.
The move is planned with an eye to the future, with officials from both clubs flagging that an Under 17s team would be on the agenda in two years time should everything go well with the updated arrangement.
Ben Casey, the Cowra Eagles Walla Coordinator and Junior Liaison, said that a lot of care has been taken to ensure that the partnership between two clubs, with Cowra a much larger club and town, is a fair one.
”Both clubs have still got their identity – it’s an equal partnership,” Casey said.
”Everybody made concessions to make sure it was a success.”
Casey hopes the arrangement will put an end to the days where the two clubs have been unable to field teams because they didn’t have enough on their own.
“Cowra’s had 10 players in the Under 15s and it’s just not enough to field a side,” he said adding that Canowindra’s faced similar predicaments in the past, and that combining was straightforward.
“Canowindra’s a natural fit for us, and Cowra’s a natural fit for Canowindra.”
“Ultimately it’s just more kids playing [Rugby].”
One intriguing element is the new guernsey for the joint team, which will contain elements of red and blue – the two clubs’ respective colours – as well as both club’s logos.
Players from the new team have been encouraged to submit potential designs online, with a vote to take place which will decide what the new guernsey will look like.
Casey hasn’t seen any of the proposed designs yet, but adds that designing a shared guernsey for the new team is crucial for unity.
”We will be playing under a common strip,” he said.
Peter Stacey, coach of the Canowindra Pythons and someone club insiders credit as helping to spear head the move on Canowindra’s end, echoes this, believing the move is critical to ensuring that players can stay involved with the game.
“We wanted to give the boys a pathway through [juniors to seniors],” Stacey said,
He also believed that the outgoing reciprocal arrangement between the two clubs had operated “fantastically well”.
“It was great and the best things for both clubs,” he added.
It will be the first time the two clubs have jointly fielded an Under 15s team, with the development for senior representation for both Cowra and Canowindra at the forefront of both clubs’ long term thinking,
However, while mentioning that pathway, Stacey also stressed that more holistic sporting concepts, such as sportsmanship and culture, would continue to be actively developed as part of the arrangement.
“Sport’s a great thing, and without being too deep, it’s good for kids,” Stacey said, emphasising factors such as discipline, skill and mateship.
“[It’s] growing with their mates, and playing for their mates – You play fair and play hard.”
It is with this ethos, that Stacey and his counterpart at Cowra, Andrew Smith, have been able to grow the sides not in spite of but because the joint arrangement, with Stacey especially emphasising Smith’s involvement.
“We have really good numbers because the kids are having fun, Stacey said.
“It’s a really positive thing for both clubs.”