21 April 2023

Jindabyne Bushpigs prepare to celebrate 40 years

| Gail Eastaway
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Former Bushpigs captain Jake Roarty with the club founder Harry Cummins.

Former Jindabyne Bushpigs captain Jake Roarty and club founder, Harry Cummins. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

It all started with a beer more than 40 years ago.

Jindabyne builder Harry Cummins and Cooma electrician Brian Kaufline had a bet over that beer – that Jindabyne could not raise a rugby union team to play Cooma.

Harry rustled up a team (comprised mainly of bank employees, plus a few rugby league players), borrowed football jumpers from Monaro High School and the match was played at Cooma.

Jindabyne was victorious.

During 1983 these players, organised mainly by Steve Gibb and Mick Mugridge, chipped in and bought a set of Irish green jumpers and proceeded to play nine games up and down the South Coast.

The name Bushpigs arose from an incident on a cruise trip some of the boys went on in late 1982.

Bushpig colours have always predominantly been Irish green. Founder of the club, Harry Cummins wouldn’t let the club play in anything else.

In 1984 the club entered a team in the ACT Sub-District Competition, and this was a big step for a bunch of players in a rugby league orientated district.

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The first team encountered lots of opposition from the local league fraternity but many of the league players actually ended up having a game or two of union to help the new boys out. That first year the team went through undefeated and beat Wests in the grand final 7-3.

The next few years were extremely difficult as many of the bank boys moved on and rugby league blossomed in Jindabyne. The team never forfeited over these years but many games were played with not a full complement of players or with what became known as the “Dirty Dozen”.

In those days without all four Mugridge boys, the club would not have had any chance of fielding a team.

The club seemed in the early years to stick to the Olympic timetable, by winning grand finals in 1988, 1992 and 1996.

The Piggies won again in 1999, then 2006 and in 2008, their 25th year.

They are the reigning premiers of the Monaro 2nd Division, having won the 2022 flag, after wins in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Over the years, the club has expanded to include a women’s team, The Miss Piggies and several junior teams.

The club has been a major contributor to the Jindabyne community over its history.

One of the biggest undertakings of the club was to establish the Berridale Bush Races in the late 1980s. The club firstly had to build a racetrack, which was helped by the donation of some land behind the Berridale Gun Club by David Woodhouse.

Transfield, one of the large contractors on construction of the Skitube, assisted with the heavy machinery and in four weeks the club held its first race meeting.

The races continued for four years until interest waned and the event was closed.

The club ran the bar at the Jindabyne Boxing Day Rodeo for many years and more recently has assisted at the Jindabyne Flowing Festival.

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The club has an unofficial motto: “A social club with a rugby problem”.

There have been many years of volunteer work put into the club.

The Bushpigs are proud of their life members who have contributed so much to the club.

They include: Harry Cummins (founder and first president), Ross Field (first coach), Mick Swinney (original player, former secretary), Lochy Thompson (original player and committee member), Garry Mugridge (original player and past president), Mick Mugridge, (original player and founding secretary), Barry Mugridge (original player, past president and secretary), Tommy Granabetter (played 100 games, past coach), Murray Johnson (played over 100 games, past president), Jimmy Crocker (first aid officer for over 20 years), Ian Graham (past player and committee member), Tommy Grannabetter (more than 100 games and coach), Matt Fish (150 games and president), Richard Boys (‘Crystal’ – 150 games and president), Steve Carter (‘Stumpy’ – long-serving member, president and referee), Michael Needham (‘Sauce’ long-serving player and coach), Nick Elliott (founder and long-serving supporter of juniors).

The club has attracted many sponsors over the past 40 years, with the Lake Jindabyne Hotel and Jindabyne Bowling Club major sponsors in 2023.

The stage is set for a big 40th anniversary celebration on 13 May.

Fittingly, the Piggies will play Cooma prior to the anniversary event at the Lake Jindabyne Hotel.

Guest speaker for the night is former Wallaby, and long-time friend of the Bushpigs, Mark Ella.

Mark’s association with Jindabyne stretches back to the 1980s. He has attended many previous Bushpigs functions, training sessions and presentation nights over the years.

Tickets for the 40th Anniversary Dinner are available via Humantix.

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