Rugby Union: Full steam ahead for the Santos Festival of Rugby in Narrabri

Drawcard: Local rugby fans will have the chance to see Alex Newsome and his NSW Waratahs in action in Narrabri next month. Photo: Julius Dimataga.
Drawcard: Local rugby fans will have the chance to see Alex Newsome and his NSW Waratahs in action in Narrabri next month. Photo: Julius Dimataga.

Narrabri Rugby president Mick Coffey says he's been overwhelmed by the interest in next month's Santos Festival of Rugby.

The biggest event the club has held in it's history, the three-day extravaganza will incorporate a long lunch, coaching clinic, a 7s tournament featuring the Australian men's 7s team and a trial between the Waratahs and Reds.

The club released long lunch tickets and corporate tickets for the Friday and Saturday to Blue Boars members and players on Monday and they were snapped up.

Coffey said the long lunch sold out in just over two hours, and as of mid-Monday the catered clubhouse access tickets for the Friday night were just about sold out.

"People are coming out of the woodwork," he said.

He said he's had people getting in contact that haven't played or been to the club for decades, or have moved away saying they don't want to miss out on it.

At this stage they are working to a ground capacity of 3000 for the Friday and 2000 for the Saturday.

General admission is free but those wishing to attend must purchase a ticket through Ticketek.

Coffey expects those tickets to go on sale some time this week.

Since the announcement late last year, he and his team have been working hard getting the playing surface and ground in general ready.

"The place is getting a real spruce up," Coffey said.

Among the works is new lights. They finished installing them at around 2am on Monday morning.

"One light does a better job than the four poles we had before," he said, adding that the field is "looking better than it ever has."

He is anticipating a few more late nights/early morning before February 4.

"There's a lot of work to be done but we've got plenty of helpers and everyone is really positive," Coffey said.

It will all kick-off at 10am on the Thursday with the captains runs, which subject to COVID restrictions will be open to the public. Later at 4pm there will be a junior coaching clinic run by the Classic Wallabies and local identities.

The 7s tournament, which will form part of the trial process for the men's team for the Tokyo Olympics and also involve an Australian A team, the NSW and Queensland state teams and a team from Fiji, will then get underway at 2pm on the Friday.

Following that Narrabri local Elsie Ford, Georgia June and Aussie rock band Thirsty Merc will provide the pre-match entertainment leading into the Waratahs/Reds game at 8pm.

The 7s tournament will continue on the Saturday. Running alongside that there will be a community 7s tournament.

The event has created a huge buzz around town and within the rugby community.

On the back of the members pre-sale Coffey said they have sold "more memberships than we ever have in 48 hours".

The Narrabri tournament will now be the first 'leg' of the Olympic trials after the tournament scheduled for this Friday and Saturday was pushed back to February 12 and 13.