Back to Ballarat: Highlanders roll out the welcoming mat

Sun, Mar 5, 2023, 3:04 AM
Rugby Vic Media
by Rugby Vic Media

It's all systems go as the Victorian rugby community prepares to descend on Ballarat for another 7s tournament to kick of the season.

As the region braces for the arrival of some rugby starved players, we caught up with Club President Tristan McGrath to discover how the club is preparing for the season ahead and the 7s tournament that the Highlanders will be hosting later this month.

Rugby Victoria (RV): You're now in the hot seat as President. How long have you been involved with the Club and what inspired you to get involved with the committee?

Tristan McGrath (TM): I began playing for Ballarat back in 2010, and had been a General Committee member for several years before being elected President this year.

The workload of the Executive Committee can be quite heavy, so many of the senior players help as General Committee Members each year.

RV: What's the biggest challenges facing you as a regional club?

TM: As a player, I always thought that being a regional club in an area dominated by football, soccer and cricket, that attracting players was the toughest challenge we faced.

Since becoming a committee member though, my thoughts have shifted. Now I have realised that sponsorship and funding are the biggest annual challenges.

RV: Give us some insight into the playing pool you draw from? Where are you recruiting from? Have most of your registered players had a history growing up and playing the game?

TM: We’re a small, community minded club - we accept anyone regardless of their playing background.

We are the home of rugby union in the western district, so we always have a good mix. From St. Patrick’s College lads who have continued their rugby life with us, to players that have never played rugby before, as well as kiwi and pacifika players who have been living and breathing rugby since before they could walk.

We are excited this year to also have several new and returning players who are based in Stawell and Ararat.

RV: Off the field, what exciting plans do you have in the works for 2023?

TM: Our first big event of the season is the 2nd Annual Charity 7’s Competition happening on the 25th of March. The proceeds from this event will be donated to a local Ballarat charity that will be voted on by our supporters and the local community.

We have plans to host a reunion for past players, supporters and sponsors later on the season and our annual Ladies’ Day will again be supporting The McGrath Foundation.

RV: How has preseason been going? What have your coaches been doing to keep it new and exciting for the playing group?

TM: Numbers for our preseason have been quite good!

Last year’s captain, Lachie Dewar, has been taking on the role of pre-season coach as our head coach, Clint and partner Eve have recently welcomed a son into the world.

The lads are bringing lots of energy to training their personal pre-season fitness training is really showing.

RV: Hosting the Preseason 7s is quite the logistical challenge... What's going to make it an exciting event for everyone who comes? 

TM: This will be our second-year planning and hosting this event, so we have several improvements we have identified from last year’s tournament. But we are confident that this year will be bigger and better with fewer challenges to surprise us!

The teams are keen to put on a show and represent their communities. Mr. Sarra will be in fine form as he takes on the DJ duties, we will have food trucks, bar, music and hopefully fantastic weather!

RV: Fast forward to the end of the season...what would you need to have achieved in order for you to consider it a successful year?

TM: As in every year, we are aiming for Finals.

But I think the biggest proof of ‘success’ that the club can show is increased family and community support through the season.

We have always prided ourselves in being a very welcoming club with the success of the team as each players highest priority and having supporters on the sidelines for home games is a massive boost to the lads and Committee.

RV: Thanks for your time Tristan and we look forward to catching up at the Ballarat 7s!

To register for the Ballarat 7s on March 25, visit


Latest News