Players’ strong bond in dark hour for sport
THE harsh reality of sport was dragged from the dark corners of everyone’s mind at Salter Oval before Wests played Isis in the main A-grade game of the Bundaberg Rugby League.
As the players stood arm in arm for a minute’s silence in honour of Sunshine Coast Falcons forward James Ackerman, who died recently from injuries in a game of rugby league, something became clear. It’s just a game. Ackerman’s death has again galvanised the sporting community, and players who were about to rip into each other for 80 minutes from Wests and Isis, along with those from Brothers and the Tigers who had moments before finished their game, stood shoulder to shoulder to remember someone they had never met.
Jersey number 8 was retired from the games at Salter Oval and the silence at the ground and the emotional expressions on the players’ faces showed Ackerman had touched everyone involved in rugby league.
Bundaberg Rugby League chairman Mike Ireland said the sport was going through a tough time but bonds held the sport together, and with each other they would all get through this difficult period.
“It’s very difficult times for any sport – we had it last year with the death of Phil Hughes and in any sport it is sad,” Ireland said.
“The reality out of it all is the players, whether they’re in the BRL, Queensland Cup or the NRL, they are all mates off the field.”
Devils coach Simon Ricciardi said it was a touching moment and showed the tight-knit nature of the rugby league community.
“It was great to see the football community pull together for Ackerman’s family, which is a credit to the game,” he said.
Once the players went their teams’ ways, the mood changed and the players got the game under way.
The reality out of it all is the players ... are all mates off the field.
STAND TOGETHER: Wests players stand together with the other A-grade teams at Salter Oval in memory of James Ackerman.