Country titles put FNC back on map

A CONCERTED effort from players and officials to proliferate senior representative rugby union on the Far North Coast has paid off with Lismore awarded the right to host the 2011 Country Championships.

Bordering on a rabble two years ago, the FNC Dolphins had an overhaul before this year’s Country Championships in Newcastle.

The result – our boys came home with the Richardson Shield.

FNC president Tony Heeson is proud to see the Dolphins back.

“It really is an honour for Lismore and FNCRU to be hosting this event,” he said.

“The Country Championships coming to town will promote rugby in the area, it will give a financial boost to the community and our boys will get the chance to play in front of a home crowd.”

There are nine zones which compete at the championships, each with an opens and under-20’s squad, meaning at least 500 rugby people in town for the weekend.

“If they spend, say, $200 each over the weekend that’s about a $400,000 injection into local business,” Heeson said.

And while on the monetary side of things, it is a double win for FNC.

“It cost us around $29,000 in travel and accommodation to attend this year’s championships in Newcastle,” Heeson said.

That’s $29,000 extra in the kick for facilities, equipment, juniors and development next year.

NSW Country Rugby Union president Bruce Worboys said the region had earned the right to host country rugby’s crown jewel for the first time since the concept was conceived in 1951.

“The zone has worked very hard both on and off the field to improve rugby on the North Coast,” Worson said.

Heeson agreed and commended Dolphins coach John Jenkins and his men.

“John Jenkins has done a great job with the players and he has had great support from Dave Arthur and Dave Graham,” he said.

The 2011 Country Championships will be played over two weekends, with the qualifying games on March 19 at various locations across the State, then the semi-finals and finals of both tiers at Oakes Oval and Crozier Field, Lismore, on March 26 and 27.

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