AS RIVAL sporting codes compete for the hearts and minds of the next generation, the newly-formed Southern Crushers are intent on filling the void in the Shellharbour area. With the backing of Illawarra Rugby Union, the off-season has been spent building the club, starting with a third grade team and junior divisions under 10, 11 and 13s.
Officials are continuing discussions with Shellharbour City Council, with a view to using John O’Dwyer Oval at Croome Road as their home ground. Club president Nathan Calder, a premiership player with Shamrocks in the 1990s, is optimistic the foundation is laid to one day become a force in the competition.
“We’re planning to have three grades and a Colts division in three to five years,” he said.
“There were a lot of people who recognised a large area in the Albion Park and Shellharbour area without a team.
“We presented our case to Illawarra rugby and they voted to accept us on the spot, we’ve had a lot of support.
“So there’s been a lot of work go into making this happen and we’re still looking for interested players.”
Similar to a gap in the region geographically, red, gold and black was chosen as the colour scheme to avoid clashing with any of their Illawarra rivals. The defunct Trojans club existed in the Albion Park are in the 1980s, however, in one of the biggest expansion areas on the South Coast, Calder hopes to receive a lot of community support. There were seven third grade teams last year, with Vikings beating Vincentia in the grand final.
With this season’s draft draw still to be ratified, Calder knows it will be a special occasion when the third graders run out for their first game on a Saturday in late March or early April.
“It will be a highlight for us after a lot of hard work done by the committee,” he said. “We’ll have a season launch before it all kicks off and also looking forward to seeing the juniors play. There have been quite a few people to volunteer their time to make this happen, but especially for our junior president Shane Schutz, who has done a lot for the club.
“It will be pretty special.”
- SOUTHERN CRUSHERS
Illawarra rugby 2017 third grade, under 10, 11 and 13 divisions
We’re planning to have three grades and a Colts division in three to five years
For more information, email Nathan Calder (seniors) or Shane Schutz (juniors) at firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook page.