A rugby game against a side from Canberra had more meaning than points on the board on Saturday.
The Armidale Blues took on the Australian Defence Force Academy in a friendly encounter at Moran Oval and raised awareness for Soldier On, an organisation established when former junior Blue and ADFA rugby player Michael Fussell died in action in Afghanistan in 2008.
While entry was free, the hundreds who came through the gate put their hands in their pockets for a small donation to the cause which helps soldiers impacted by their time in service.
The game itself was a tight clash with the Blues leading 12-7 at half-time.
It finished even closer with the army side winning the trophy 28-27.
Armidale Blues president Anthony McMillan said the match was played in “very good spirits” and it was also an opportunity for Blues players from across the grades to run out together,
“Goal-kicking let us down, we only kicked one from five and one was straight in front but, goal-kicking we would have had them by another eight points or so, seven we would have won by,” he said.
“They were the same as us, they had a mixture of first, second and third graders so it evened itself out.
“All players from the Blues [this year].
“We probably played better on Saturday than we did during the year.
“There was a fair crowd over there as well so it was a pretty social game and a great game of football to watch.”
Adding to the social element was the post-match celebrations.
“The army boys had a very, very good time while they were here and they had to get on a bus at 6.30am on Sunday morning and drive back to Canberra for school because they are all officers in training,” McMillan said.
“Great mob of young fellas and we got on really well with them.
“Just the camaraderie after the game, both teams just broke off into little groups and had a little chat about everything.
“It was a great day for socialising with rugby people.
“There was a lot of people in the crowd who had never seen a rugby match so the ADF influence certainly got them there.”
A trophy was made for the occasion but McMillan said the encounter may not happen every year.
“We talked to the ADF guys after the game and because they in Canberra it is something that is not feasible year-in, year-out but it is something we might do every two years,” he said.
“We had a trophy made up which they put forward on the weekend and we played for that, they took it back home with them.”