AGE-OLD TAL­ENTS

Gayn­dah rugby play­ers gear up to hit the field in Masters

Central and North Burnett Times - - SPORT - julian.lehnert@cnbtimes.com.au JULIAN LEHNERT

TIME has not passed them by – it’s made them stronger.

A team of Gayn­dah rugby play­ers has un­veiled and bro­ken in their new jer­seys this week as the group of lo­cals pre­pare to storm the Gold Coast in March.

The 14 play­ers from Gayn­dah and Biggen­den – rang­ing from 40 to 76 years old – are com­pet­ing in the Ru­n­away Bay NRL Masters Car­ni­val next month along­side more than 100 other teams.

“We heard that one of the guys had played down there be­fore and thought about get­ting a few of the old fel­las back to­gether and get us off the couch,” said Bradley Schif­fke, leader of the Gayn­dah Gla­di­a­tors Masters team.

Mr Schif­fke has been with the masters team since its in­cep­tion seven years ago.

He, like many of his team­mates, played for the Gla­di­a­tors or other lo­cal teams in his child­hood and has re­tained his drive to take to the pitch.

To as­sist with this, NRL masters games are played with a vari­a­tion of the stan­dard rugby rule set, ad­justed to al­low play­ers aged 35 and older to en­joy the game safely.

Teams of 11 play­ers from across the Com­mon­wealth come to­gether at car­ni­vals ev­ery year to cel­e­brate their love for the sport.

Many of them, like Schif­fke and the rest of the team, used to play for their home clubs when they were younger.

The Gold Coast car­ni­val is held at the Ru­n­away Bay Seag­ulls Rugby League Club ev­ery March and is con­sid­ered the “home of the masters”, ac­cord­ing to the NRL.

The fes­tiv­i­ties this year go from March 4-7 and will fea­ture 104 teams, in­clud­ing six women’s sides.

Equipped with a new jersey, the masters team is now pre­par­ing for their up­com­ing games. This year, Schif­fke’s team has man­aged to at­tract 12 spon­sors to fea­ture promi­nently on their uni­form, al­low­ing the team to af­ford the $2000 en­try fee to the tour­na­ment. “We try to do a bit of fundrais­ing but we pay for all our own ac­com­mo­da­tion down there,” Schif­fke ex­plained.

“All the money that’s raised is only for the game down there and jer­seys, so peo­ple see we’re out and about.”

The Gla­di­a­tors say they are look­ing for­ward to an ex­cit­ing, re­ward­ing and en­ter­tain­ing car­ni­val.

“There are no win­ners or losers,” Schif­fke said.

“It’s just for ev­ery­one to come down, join to­gether and have a game.”

The team has 12 spon­sors this year, al­low­ing them to af­ford a new uni­form as well as the car­ni­val’s reg­is­tra­tion fee. Pic­ture: Julian Lehnert

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