Pittwater Life March 2018 Issue


Bayview Bust-Up. Running with the Rat Pack. Tom Burlinson. Check out our new website!

Running with the


We go behind the scenes of a gruelling pre-season

training session with the Shute Shield premiers.

Can they defend the title in 2018? By Matt Cleary.

The grandstand at Pittwater

Rugby Park on

the North Narrabeen

Reserve – known now and

forever as ‘Rat Park’, amen

– looks from the back like a

hangar for Sopwith Camels.

It’s wide, rounded, a giant

corrugated-iron shed. Within

there’s a gym, office, function

room and bar. And it is not

flash. But it is Rat Land. Soul

Town. HQ and home of your

Warringah Rats.

We’re in the gym where the

clink of weights accompanies

banter and thumping bass

beats. There’s Rats in the gym

this hot Tuesday afternoon,

big bodies, pushing steel.

Some of these guys have

known Super Rugby contracts.

Others have turned out for

clubs in Japan or Italy or the

south of France, half their

luck. The game offers opportunities

for the troubadour.

The club toured Chile last preseason.

And also Orange.

I ask after general manager,

Luke Holmes. “He’s just

getting needled,” comes the

reply. “He’ll be out soon.” It’s

very ‘rugby’ – the guy running

the show is a player, a clubman,

a grunt like the rest of

them, doing what he must to

get on the paddock.

The core of a rugby club –

the players, coaches and volunteers

– could be upwards of

150 people who all know each

other. It’s a ‘tribe’ of sorts,

a micro-community that

represents a larger one. People

buy in with different levels

of emotional attachment.

But everyone feels part of it.

And while it all filters up to

first grade and 2017’s famous

premiership, everyone felt

they contributed. The thirds

won the comp, too. As did the

women’s team, ‘the Ratettes’.

And so to sideline of the

training ground and a yarn

with the “old boys”, these

ageless clubmen and crusty

demons of dirt who’ve been

around forever. We meet

Richard Harris, ‘Dicky’ to

all. The first grade manager

is a chatty cove in a Panama

hat who doesn’t wear shoes.

Young blokes wouldn’t know

– or perhaps even care – how

old he is. They mightn’t even

know his actual name. But

that’s okay. Young blokes love

the old blokes.

It was love that the club

leaned on when they suffered

the unimaginable

heartache of losing Lachlan

Ward, 25, who died while

playing fifth grade against

Gordon in June of last year.

No-one knew he’d passed,

though teammates were worried.

The family turned up at

Royal North Shore Hospital

hopeful. There to meet them

was club doctor Tom Harwood


Warringah Rats will never forget

the joys of triumph, nor the tears

of loss, experienced in 2017. The

squad is committed to going backto

back in 2018 – and have put in

plenty of hard yards in preparation.

30 MARCH 2018

The Local Voice Since 1991

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