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Much-loved WRHS sporting fundraiser left on the sideline

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Despite organisers’ best intentions to offer an all-encompassing event, the inaugural A-Plus Contracting Hunter Valley Mining Oztag Challenge will not proceed.

Originally established as the Hunter Valley Mining Charity Rugby League Day, the popular sporting tournament regularly raised money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service (WRHS).

And, it was a much-loved fixture on the local calendar, attracting more than 300 employees from throughout the region and beyond to represent their respective mine sites at Singleton’s Pirtek Park.

But, in 2023, a decision was made to replace this season’s men’s and women’s tackle competition with the Oztag format.

Consequently, it’s been met by a lukewarm response, with those behind the scenes announcing it wouldn’t go ahead on 2 March.

It’s a major blow for the WRHS, which relies heavily on the support of the community to ensure the service remains viable 24-7.

“While we had confidence that the change from the original rugby league format to Oztag was going to be embraced, given the more inclusive nature, it sadly was not to be,” Danny Eather said.

“The event attracted only low team registrations.

“To our naming partner, A Plus Contracting & Poly Welding, thank you so much for your unwavering support of this new concept but also over the past seven years with the rugby league knockout.

“We’re proud that competition raised in excess of $500,000 for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

“In sharing this disappointing news, we hope people continue to support us in other ways, be it our upcoming Hunter Valley Charity Golf Day in March, our Upper Hunter Rescue Ball in September or even chose to donate by way of signing up to a workplace wage deduction.

“These and a variety of other opportunities to assist the WRHS can be found on the website at www.rescuehelicopter.com.au/you-can-help/”

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