On the eve of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we take a quick look back to when Centennial Parklands hosted the world’s largest rugby festival!
Almost five years ago to the day, over 4,000 participants comprising 170 teams from 15 countries came together to enjoy the competition, the comeraderie of the 18th Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival – the world’s largest rugby festival.
What is Golden Oldies?
The Golden Oldies Movement has been thriving for nearly three decades. It first began in the late 1970s when Tom Johnson, one of New Zealand’s foremost rugby players of the 1960s, introduced the idea to Air New Zealand. The rest is history.
Fifteen rugby teams took part in that first Festival held in a muddy field in Auckland in 1979: 13 from New Zealand, one from Canada and one from the United States of America. The inaugural hockey and soccer Festivals followed in 1983, then cricket and netball Festivals were added in 1984.
World Festivals now take place every two years for each sport around the world. Focussing on participation rather than winning, today the movement continues to provide enjoyment for the over 35s of all levels of fitness and ability.
The Sydney festival
The lively event was held in good weather across 25 rugby pitches in Centennial Parklands.
Teams arrived early on the Tuesday morning, with variable levels of warm-up applied (some chose to warm up their legs, some chose to warm up their drinking arms!).
There were numerous famous faces from rugby past and present, particularly those playing on the invitational ‘Gentlemen of Sydney’ team, including:
- Mark Ella
- Glenn Ella
- Robbie Deans
- Simon Poidevin (who claimed his primary role was simply to ensure Mark Ella did not get injured!)
- David Campese
- Russell Fairfax
The games played as part of the festival were an adapted (shortened) format, with broadly the regular rugby rules. The main difference in general play is necessary to accommodate the age range and physical attributes of participant.
Players could elect to wear particular colour-coded shorts to indicate to other players how they should be treated:
A video review of the event
Here is the official video review of the 18th Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival:
Here are more photos from the event:
So Centennial Parklands is not only Australia’s largest community sports venue, but also the past host of the world’s largest world rugby festival.
Centennial Parklands – come play!