Dismayed by the cancellation of the February’s annual Braidwood Race Day, some rugby enthusiasts from the Braidwood Redbacks decided to organise a fundraising weekend of Rugby 7s to buoy the town’s spirits and boost the local economy.
To say the idea took off is an understatement. This Saturday 44 teams will descend on Braidwood for the Bushfire 7s. Over 600 players are joining in with teams for men, women, boys and girls (under 16s and under 18s).
Teams have been organised to attend from Sydney, Illawarra, South Coast, Country NSW and Canberra.
“We’ve had great support from the Brumbies and Rugby Australia, and the Referees Association is sending 14 refs for the day,” organiser Nick Pengelly said.
The Rugby 7s spectacle will have two games running concurrently all day from 9 am to 5:30 pm.
It is expected many high-profile players will participate in the competition, including Braidwood’s Lewis and Jake Holland and Charlotte Caslick.
With Braidwood on level four water restrictions, the local council has not watered the recreation grounds, so in preparation for the event the club and the community have resorted to preparing the grounds themselves.
“We’ve had to use donated water from local farmers, donated trucks, donated tanks, donated pumps and irrigation equipment, and donated time,” Mr Pengelly said. “Unfortunately, our trucks can only give us loads when their working day is done. It’s a huge community effort. Hopefully we can green the grounds up over the next week with a little help from the weather.”
So far 150,000 litres of donated water have been poured onto the ground with more to come before match day.
The carnival atmosphere will be boosted by 44 marquees around the grounds and the local radio station broadcasting live, with Region Media‘s Tim Gavel commentating at the ground.
Presentations will follow the completion of the competition at around 5:30 pm and a post-match function, auction of memorabilia and entertainment – including the Braidwood Cup Yabby Races – will take place at the Braidwood Serviceman’s Club.
APEX will be involved in catering for the day and the Braidwood Life Centre will be the charity responsible for dispersing funds raised throughout the day.
Participants and supporters are being encouraged to stay locally on Friday and Saturday nights to allow them to visit the town’s shops, cafes, restaurants, clubs and pubs.
Accommodation in Braidwood will fill quickly so visitors are encouraged to consider camping at the Braidwood Show ground, Majors Creek Recreation ground or look at nearby towns.
The Braidwood Redbacks Bushfire Rugby 7s is a family friendly fundraiser and in the words of the club it will let “the rugby community wrap its arms around a decimated community.”