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GALLERY: Hunter students tackle junior league carnivals again

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School league is back on the sporting agenda – and in a big way if the scenes at Raymond Terrace this week were anything to go by.

More than 1,000 youngsters, boys and girls, in the under-12 age bracket took part in the NRL Blues 9s Carnival at Lakeside Oval.

And, following two years of COVID-19 interruptions, the players revelled in the opportunity to run around on the fields again.

“We’re very happy with the turnout,” NRL Hunter development officer Luke Lawrence said.

“Thirty-two teams took part on Tuesday, with another 28 today [Thursday].

“Yesterday’s action, with 20 sides, was postponed due to the teachers’ strike.

“However, that will now go ahead with the Coalfields region at Badderley Park, Cessnock, on 1 June.

“Today, we’re featuring the Lake Macquarie catchment, so that’s all the schools that feed into those clubs such as Valentine, Dudley and Windale, to name a few.

“On Tuesday, we catered for the Newcastle/Port Stephens areas.”

Lawrence said the NRL Blues 9s Carnival was staged in conjunction with Hunter Junior Rugby League (HJRL) and New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL).

“Our game development team uses this as a tool to get children playing the sport,” he explained.

“It’s all based on fun and participation.

“There are no scores kept; the kids purely rock up, play with their team-mates and we try to make sure as many of them sign up with a local club under the HJRL banner.

“This is our biggest response to this event since its inception three years ago.

“It’s a bit of a revamped competition – a mixture of the old Knights Knockout and the Legends Carnival.

“We’ve merged them to create one big tournament that all the schools can attend.

“I’d like to thank all the teachers, as well as the educational facilities, the parents and the care-givers for giving the children a taste of rugby league [this week].

“Events like this don’t happen without their support.

“We want as many kids as possible playing under the new HJRL banner – and signing up for their side for the 2022 season.”

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