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Popular WRHS fundraiser tackles new concept

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One of the most popular events on the sporting calendar, the Hunter Valley Mining Charity Rugby League Day, is no more.

But, don’t despair, it’s not all doom and gloom.

In moving with the times, and putting the safety of all participants first, it will be replaced by the A-Plus Contracting Hunter Valley Mining Oztag Challenge in 2023.

The new tournament takes to the field at Singleton’s Pirtek Park on Saturday 21 October from 9am until 6pm.

Organiser Danny Eather admitted it was important to make the change to ensure the fundraiser’s future, which amasses much-needed financial assistance for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service (WRHS).

“For the past several years, despite all precautions, we’ve seen injuries occur due to the high-impact nature of rugby league, although the frequency and severity of those have increased considerably,” he said.

“Following on from 2022, we conducted a review and subsequent risk assessment.

“And, based on the likelihood and the consequences of more injury, it was determined that continuing ahead with a rugby league competition was not possible.

“This call was made with only the greatest of intentions in ensuring all participants’ wellbeing was treated with the upmost care.

“As many would know, this event has been a big thing for me for a long while.

“Even though it will be different, I hope everyone – and, in particular, the mining community – embraces the concept.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun and raising those vitally-important funds for the WRHS.

“That service’s role within the community is to help and care for those sick and injured.

“So, staging the existing format simply contradicted the WRHS’s purpose of existence.

“I’d like to thank Andrew Hughes for his continuing support as well with A-Plus Contracting.”

Eather said he was excited about the Hunter Valley Mining Oztag Challenge moving forward.

“This modification does not impact the nature of the ‘miner v miner’ bragging rights concept,” he explained.

“If anything, we see this will provide the opportunity for increased inclusivity and growth.

“Based on several months of work behind the scenes and establishing a partnership with Central Coast & Maitland Oztag Association, it was agreed – and accepted – that the event would be able to go ahead under the Oztag format.

“While we appreciate there is always a chance of injury with any physical activity, we do believe the Oztag model will reduce this risk and severity.

“The positive is the challenge maintains the tradition of previous years, bringing together our mining community to compete for the ‘battle of supremacy’, swapping their work boots for footy shows.

“The new-look format also provides more game time across four dedicated fields with sides of 10 participating in at least a minimum of 5-6 games (pending registration).

“In, 2023, we’ll host three divisions – men’s, women’s and mixed.”

Over the past seven years, more than $500,000 has been accumulated for the WRHS.

Teams from mine sites are invited to register their interest at https://forms.office.com/r/VSgcPG1Jrm

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