By Emma Perry
A rugby league club in Timaru has been nominated for a national award after going from strength to strength this year.
The Timaru Outlaws Rugby League Club has experienced significant growth in its numbers over the past year, particularly in its junior section.
This season finished on a high note after it was nominated for the New Zealand Rugby League grassroots club of the year award, which looks for clubs that have made a difference to their local community and shown a commitment to the values of New Zealand Rugby League.
The club was one of five in New Zealand to be nominated.
Timaru Outlaws Rugby League Club vice-chairman Guy Turner said it was stoked with the nomination, and its other achievements.
The junior section of the club had doubled to include six teams over four age grades, and there were more than 120 registered members in the club, he said.
“For only being in our third season [of juniors] that’s pretty good.”
Three teams from the junior section went to Christchurch for a two-day trip to play in the Rugby League Pacific Series, and despite not winning any games were named the best and fairest team at the event.
To get to the tournament, $8500 had been raised by members and their families in 18 days.
“The kids didn’t have to pay anything in the end.”
Turner said there were a few secrets to the success.
“We have a huge focus on our club values which include an emphasis on improvement and development rather than winning, community and supporting each other.
“We’re trying to build better people, not just better players .. it’s a culture kids want to stay in.”
He thought the values of the club, combined with a shorter rugby season this year, had attracted new players.
“We’re not trying to steal players from anywhere else, we’re encouraging them to wear rugby socks and represent their clubs.”
Its senior team, which was in its fifth season, had also won the Duncan McGregor Memorial Cup this year.
The club did not have clubrooms or a field to practice on, but had found with the generosity of others it had no issue finding somewhere to play.
“We’ve been able to use Ashbury Park . . . the Harlequins [Rugby Club], the Old Boys [Sports Club] have all been supportive.”
Turner was looking at the possibility of starting an under-7 section, but thought the club would continue to grow regardless.