8 June 2023

Cooma Stallions celebrate 50th anniversary

| Gail Eastaway
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Cooma Stallions celebrate 50 years this week.

The Cooma Stallions Rugby League Club will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

Cooma Stallions Rugby League Club will celebrate its 50th anniversary this Saturday (10 June).

The celebrations are a little overdue as celebrations planned for last year had to be postponed.

However, Saturday night will see hundreds of former players, coaches, officials and supporters meeting at the Cooma Showground to reminisce and share tales of yore.

The club will also celebrate the institution rugby league has become, with Cooma Showground the home of Sunday afternoon footy for decades.

The club did not contest senior football last year, but is back with a vengeance in 2023, looking for another finals berth and also anticipating the start of ladies tackle when the Group 16 competition is up and running.

Rugby league has been played on the Monaro since 1925 when the Cooma Greens were formed to play cup football against Nimmitabel, Adaminaby (two teams), Bredbo, Chakola and Jindabyne.

The Cooma All Blacks joined the competition in 1926. In 1932 the Cooma Wanderers were formed.

The area then joined Group 16, which lasted until the start of WWII.

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From 1946 a local competition was run and lasted until 1971.

During this time teams included Bombala, Cooma, Cathcart/Bibbenluke, Nimmitabel, Jindabyne, Adaminaby, Cooma Rovers, St Pats and Cooma Public School.

In 1971, Cooma Wanderers were formed and rejoined the Group 16 competition.

Cooma United formed in 1973 and in 1977 became the Cooma Stallions.

The Stallions reached the grand final in 1978 under English international, Tony Miller.

Since the formation of the Stallions, Cooma has won two first grade premierships, in 1984 and 1994, under Mick Tilse and Neil Henry respectively.

The last premiership was a sweet victory at Bega Recreation Grounds in 2017.

Cooma has also won reserve grade premierships in 1975, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994, 2009, 2011 and 2013 with coaches Herman Bruyns, Kerry Galloway, Mark Williams, Dean Lynch, Chippy Boller, Mark Kaufline and Paul Lloyd.

The Stallions’ success has continued in the junior ranks with wins in 1976, 1986, 1991, and 2013 under the leadership of Jack Nichols, Mark Weston, Brett Gale and Nathan Smith.

From 2002 to 2004 the club played in the George Tooke Shield in the Canberra competition where they won in 2002 with Simon Scott as coach and again in 2004 under Steve Russell.

Cooma has a strong junior base and after joining the Canberra competition in 1996 has regularly featured in all age groups from under sixes to under 16s.

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In 2016 Cooma had three players in the Canberra Raiders Auckland 9s competition.

The club produced successful NRL players Brett White, Sam Williams and Jack Williams.

The club also has an impressive track record with the Fillies league tag team.

From uncertain beginnings, using borrowed tops for guernseys, in just their second season in 2012, the Fillies were undefeated premiers and have continued to be a force to be reckoned with.

The Fillies consider their team to be as much an ethos, as a football team.

In 2023, the club has junior teams from under sixes to under 14s and this year, also has an under 17s girls tackle team.

The Colts are enjoying mixed success this year but are providing for the future of rugby league in Cooma.

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