Guests at the Cobar & District Rugby Union Club presentations on Saturday night were well entertained by guest speaker Matt Burke and emcee Ben Hewlett.
Burke was introduced by Cobar Camels stalwart Peter Payne who said he wasn’t sure if Cobar grasped the importance of the stature of their guest speaker.
Payne recounted the highlights of Burke’s illustrious rugby playing career which included his debut with the Australian Wallabies in 1993; playing 81 Test matches for Australia; playing in the Australian side that won the World Cup in 1999; as well as Burke’s five wins playing Bledisloe Cup football.
Burke was the Wallabies most capped fullback and in 1996 was named the Wallaby of the Year.
Payne also spoke about Burke’s outstanding captaincy for three years of the Waratahs and his efforts to score more than 1,000 points for his team.
Burke easily spoke for more than an hour and kept his audience well entertained recounting many memories of his playing career against the New Zealand, Samoan, English, French and South African national teams.
His ability to recall numerous facts, every player’s name, the comments made by his team mates, the opposition and referees, not to mention all of the game scores (at any given time in those matches) was uncanny.
Burke listed New Zealand player Jonah Lomu as the toughest opponent he’d ever come up against and named Australian team mate Tim Horan as the best he’s ever played with.
He said Horan had the ability to have fun on the field and was someone who was always keen to chat to his team mates or the opposition during a game.
The presentation of the club’s 2016 awards followed with Tom Wall named the 2016 Top Point Scorer and Try Scorer as well as the Players’ Player of the season. Steve Gillette was the Best Forward and Travis Schintler was named the Camels’ Best Back for 2016.
The Most Improved Player of the Year was Travis Dunlevy while Sam Baker collected the Coach’s Award. This year’s Encouragement Award was shared by Dan Bower and Chris Rollo. The club’s Most Committed Player for 2016 was Josh Bain Smith.
The Mr Rugby Award was presented to Bryce Rixon and Dale McLeod was honoured to have been named the 2016 Clubman.
Life Membership was bestowed on Jarrod and Kylie Marsden in recognition of their many years of hard work and service to the club. Also acknowledged for their hard work this season were ladies auxiliary members Maggie Wall and Penny Colwell.
Club president Mal Harris praised the players, coaching staff, sponsors and supporters for helping to produce a “good year” for the club.
Harris and coach John Barnes both said the club can look forward to a better season in 2017.