The New Clubhouse
The new clubhouse was built in 2007-2008. Club member and secretary, Julian Smith an architect, prepared the design. Funding for Stage 1, the change rooms, came from the sale of the Tamworth Club. Stage 2 was funded from a $300,000 loan from the National Australia Bank and a $1,000/year contribution from 30 donors for a 3 year period to help offset the interest. The contributors are listed on the wall of the clubhouse.
The 2010s saw many of the senior Tamworth teams struggle to keep up with some of the stronger Central North clubs. The under 17s and 19s Tamworth teams were consistently strong and made many finals. Over the decade, many Central North clubs struggled to maintain their juniors.
With the decline in player numbers throughout Central North, Tamworth after a 59 year absence, rejoined the New England Rugby Union in 2018. The New England competition’s strength was the depth of teams within their clubs. The large contingent of university students meant that four grade games were played when any of the Armidale and university clubs met whereas the Central North clubs could only muster two teams per club. Even then, some of the smaller clubs battled to raise a reserve grade team. In contrast, the city of Tamworth continued to grow and the club found it a challenge to find games for the growing numbers at training.
The move to New England saw the establishment of the club’s first womens team. Many of the players were new to rugby and the first year was an erratic one with varying numbers travelling for away games. Eventually, Blake Hamilton and Natasha Field came forward and accepted the challenge and the womens team has become a strong part of the club.
The club’s initial success in the New England zone came in 2019 when the Fourth grade side took out the premiership jointly with the St Alberts College side. The game did not have provision for extended play. As the score was tied, both teams shared the accolade. Unfortunately the Third grade side went down to the strong Glen Innes team who played their sole team in the lower grades though they would have given any of the higher grade teams a run for their money.
The 2020 season looked set to be a good one. Pre-season training numbers were strong with up to 70 players of both sexes turning out in hot weather to train at Viaduct Oval. The club has a long affinity to this ground. Being located across the road from Rugby Park, the Tamworth club often used the space for training and pre-game warm-ups. In the early days of the Friday night juniors competition, the ground had a couple of fields in operation for the primary section of the competition. The lights erected at the ground were paid for by the club in the mid 1990s when Wally Franklin was club president and Pat Lonergan was club secretary. These gentleman and others such as Ken Pulley started the Friday night competition. For the long time, Lyons Barnett Kennedy sponsored the junior competition. With ex-players such as Brian Thompson and David Cummings as partners, it isn’t hard to appreciate the assistance firms such as LBK provided to grow the game.