Gayndah rugby players gear up to hit the field in Masters
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