Adversity so often inspires people to rise to a challenge, which is exactly what the Vic Masters Rugby community are doing.
With a lack of rugby to keep themselves entertained; they have set out to connect the world of over 35s rugby across the Pacific. The Over 35’s Rugby Alliance or TORA may be in its infancy, but it has grand ambitions.
Vic Masters Rugby has brought together like-minded men and women for several years inspiring people to get back out on the field and share a story or two on the sideline with beverages in hand. They have fostered a genuine community spirit in Victoria with Masters matches running alongside the Dewar Shield and events including Rugbyfest which was held at Box Hill Rugby Club in 2019. On the back of that success in their home state, they have now targeted connecting all over 35 rugby players in the Pacific region.
Without the ability to get together in person, the leaders have taken it upon themselves to reach out to similar over 35s rugby groups in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Nations. It is hoped the creation of TORA can help boost the sport they hold so dear. It is an ambitious task, but their first goal is to connect all over 35s rugby players in the region. Ian Barker and James Rice who are spearheading the project believe they have already been in contact with 90% of the leadership base.
Once connected the alliance aims to use its expanding network to tackle the ever-growing issue of mental health and wellbeing. Sport in general and rugby in particular has been a place for people to turn to for help in difficult times. It is no different now with the challenges being posed by the current situation and TORA can be a central point to connect.
TORA also views this as an opportunity for them to assist with expanding rugby’s reach within Australia and beyond. The allure of social sport, a network of passionate people, and now the chance for all the information to be in one place means that rugby has a genuine chance to grow. Ultimately TORA wants to have all over 35s events in one place on a centralised calendar to ease the pathway for people to get involved.
The dream goal for TORA? A men’s and women’s over 35s tournament involving all Masters groups from around the region with hosting rights for the event changing annually. It may seem like a lofty goal, but Vic Masters have already put in the place the network to make it a reality in the not too distant future.
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