The weekend of 17-18 April may be the 16th TAS Rugby Carnival but it will be the first of many for this year's special guest, an international rugby referee who will officiate at Sunday's grand final.
Taking to the field with the whistle will be the first official school duty for Dr Rachel Horton, who commences as the 15th Head of TAS next term. Dr Horton - who holds a PhD in immunology and has also had a tour of duty in Iraq as a Captain with the British Army - played representative rugby union in England and Canada for more than a decade before retiring to become a referee 11 years ago.
She has refereed international VII and XV matches and was the first woman to referee Premier Rugby in Queensland.
"We are delighted that Dr Horton is able to be with us for this signature Armidale event, which has a wonderful reputation for the way it brings both the TAS and rugby communities together," said carnival convenor and TAS Director of Co-curricular Huon Barrett.
Ten teams from non-metropolitan NSW will take part in this year's carnival, slimmed down due to the pandemic which forced last year's fixture to be cancelled.
There may be fewer players than in past years but there will be no less passion for the camaraderie and the spirit the event engenders, Mr Barrett said.
"Months and months go into the planning of the carnival and at the time, making the call to restrict the event to regional NSW was absolutely the right thing to do," he said.
"This year's carnival will continue a tradition of bringing together keen young rugby players and their coaches and supporters in a positive and happy environment and whilst we share the disappointment with our regular teams from as far as Dalby, Perth and Canberra who are unable to be here this year, we look forward to having them back in 2022 and again staging the largest primary-aged rugby carnival in Australia."
The carnival will be held at TAS this weekend.
Teams playing at the TAS Rugby Carnival 2021
Central Coast JRU Club, NSW
Coffs Harbour JRU Club, NSW
Inverell Highlanders/Armidale Blues JRU Clubs
Lennox Head Rugby Club, NSW
Lismore Rugby Club, NSW
Mid North Coast Rugby Union, NSW
Moree Junior Rugby Club, NSW
Tamworth Junior Rugby Club, NSW
The Armidale School, Armidale NSW
Wollongbar Alstonville Rugby Club, NSW
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