Coonabarabran fielded two teams at the 45th annual NSW Koori Aboriginal Knockout competition, held in Dubbo over the October long weekend.
The newly-formed Burra Bee Dee United Sand Goannas is comprised solely of players who are descendants from the Burra Bee Dee mission.
While most team members are based in Coonabarabran, a number of people travelled from Sydney, Newcastle, Tamworth, Wollongong and Queensland to acknowledge their heritage and help form a local Aboriginal rugby league side.
While this posed some problems in terms of logistics, both teams were well prepared heading into the weekend’s knockout.
The under 17s met the more experienced Newcastle Yowies on Friday, 2 October, unfortunately going down 28-nil.
The first grade team defeated Riverstone United 22-14 on Saturday, 3 October, and went on to beat Maitland United 22-20 the following day.
Despite reaching the top 16 of 63 teams, the Burra Bee Dee side was ultimately disqualified after event organisers became aware that one player had failed to adhere to a one-game suspension, handed down at the conclusion of regular competition.
Coach, Brian Dowd, said it was heartbreaking.
“Going back to the team tent and letting the boys know of the ruling was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” Dowd said.
“It was really disappointing because we were to meet the Redfern All Blacks in the next round.
“Redfern went on to win the Knockout, but who knows what would have happened if we had taken them on?
“I believe we’ve finished the competition undefeated, so next year we’ll make the trek down to Redfern and the let football speak for itself.”
Burra Bee Dee United Sand Goannas first grade team. Coach - Brian Dowd. Team manager - Donny Sutherland.
Burra Bee Dee United Sand Goannas under 17s side. Coaches - Peter Watton and PJ Stanton.