2020 JR Henderson Cup GF: Meet the Teams – Randwick

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Randwick’s 4th Grade captain Sam Connor looks ahead to tomorrow’s JR Henderson Cup grand final showdown against Gordon, and takes us through his side’s 25-man extended squad…

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Ball 4rd Grade

The season for the Randwick 4’s team started with an error that would define our way of thinking for the season to come. The club decided in an attempt to prevent ball thieving between teams, to print the names of each grade on the balls. Due to an admin error (or so they claim) the Randwick coaches were presented with a set of yellow balls all printed ‘4rd Grade.’ We assumed this meant one of two things; either it’s a sign we should aspire to be better than 3rd Grade, or the office staff think we’re too dumb to know which suffix is meant to be attached to the number four! Regardless, Randwick 4rd Grade got stuck into the rugby season, which included one trial game before the COVID pandemic shut it all down.

Thankfully though, despite the time off many of the lads returned to play footy, albeit in dribs and drabs. The Randwick 4rd Grade team is a traditional 4’s team, made up of young players fresh out colts, some older blokes draining the last few ounces of footy out of their body, a few token Irish fellas, and some other blokes who at their age should be at their prime but just aren’t good enough for higher grades.

Although initially disappointed at the reduced number of teams, we’ve been lucky to play most weekends even if some games are trials. Understandably trial games don’t generate the same energy as comp games, but have provided a good opportunity to learn how well you can play with a hangover.

The team had an up and down start but has been on a roll since defeating Norths up at Rat Park in Round 9. The highlight thus far has been beating Sydney Uni by over 30 points – twice. A fact which, when recalled around the club, is usually greeted with some defamatory remark against Uni. Obviously, we hope to continue this run of form and come away with the JR Henderson Cup when we meet Gordon in the grand final on Saturday. After all, the 10.30am beers do taste so much better with a victory under the belt.

Non-playing players: Before providing an insight into the bizarre mix of humans in the matchday squad, I think it is important to pay tribute to the Randwick 4rd Grade players that aren’t a part of the starting 15 or bench. Due to the large number of players this year, a handful of blokes have trained an entire year despite playing very few minutes. These blokes remain an integral part of the team even if they don’t take the field due to all the work they put in during the year at training, in games, or just for being around the squad. So for that I would like to thank Ben Coady, Nathan Illy, Kalan Talefenua, Cameron Hunt, Angus Bell, Jean-Luc Poidevan, Lynx Van Den Brink, Tadhg and Tim Wilson (apologies if I forgot anyone).

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All photos: Ric McLallen

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1. DREW FERGUSON: The reason why each week the ref has to be asked “Is it okay if the props talk to you at scrum time”. Yet to be spotted at training in anything other than a La Perouse Jersey, Drew is a stalwart of the club and continues to help younger players navigate the intricacies of scrum time.

2. NICK KATSOGIANNIS: He’s got a big mullet, a big ass and so many love interests it’s impossible to follow. Asked what his dream girl would have Nick said, “a bit of land would be nice, because than I could stop pretending to be a cowboy and really be one”. Until he finally meets her on ‘Farmer Wants a Husband’, he’ll hopefully continue to play high quality footy for 4rd Grade and pestering the 1st Grade coaches for a run on.

3. BILLY FINCH: Heavily tattooed and occasionally sporting a handle bar moustache, Billy is a big mobile front-rower, who backs down to nearly no one – with the exception of his missus.

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4. TOM WEATHERALL: A bit of tall timber, Tom has been a driving force in the forwards and around the paddock for 4rd Grade. How he spent most of the year in 4’s is beyond me, as shown by the fact its not uncommon for him to play 4’s and then come off the bench for 2’s. The only negative impact Tom has on the team has been to his teammates’ self esteem after standing next to him in the shower.

5. JERRY MORKOS: With no nicknames suitable to print, Jerry is a big game player. Somehow, he goes from lethargic for 80% of the season’s games (and all trainings), to a man possessed in finals and in the big rivalry matches. Jerry is best known for his activities off the field but once again, it’s probably not suitable to discuss those here.

6. JOEL ELLIS: I feel bad for the blokes Joel works with; having to listen to Joel as he regales them with tales of his tries from the weekend’s game. Bad for them but great for the team, he tends to score a few. When asked about Joel his work mates said, “Lucky we’re qualified plumbers, so we’re trained to deal with the stuff that comes out of his mouth.”

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7. SAM CONNOR (c): (written by Cillian Monohan) In 2020 Tom Connor’s younger brother (also known as Mouse) has managed to break out of his brothers shadow to skipper 4rd Grade to a GF. The vertically challenged breakaway has two 1st Grade caps to his name, which he has requested to be put in this write up. Mouse’s small man syndrome, mixed with a love for low carb diets and sleep, has led to him recently being voted the shittest bloke to spend your Saturday night with.

8. SIONE TOVO: A simple rule for training with Sione, don’t go in his group for any contact stuff. He genuinely seems to enjoy carrying the ball into contact and probably because of that, is very effective at it. Whether his catchphrase of ‘N-O’ is short for energy or he just really enjoys spelling the word ‘no’, is unknown.

9. BEN HOWARD: One of the first blokes I’ve ever seen running full pace and simultaneously laughing in an opposition player’s face. The stereotype of a halfback – quick around the rucks and doesn’t shut up. Still amazes me he’s yet to be punched out this year.

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10. JACK HARRISON: More commonly known as Will Harrison’s (the Waratah’s no.10) older brother and the only player in 4’s to wear a GPS unit. Harro’s introduction to 4rd Grade has provided significant spark to the backline, and has been integral for the team’s push into the GF. All the while he continues to try and convince his family that a 4th grade Premiership is just as prestigious as a position in the Wallabies squad.

11. CHRISTIAN NANAI: Another bloke to avoid in contact sessions. Don’t be fooled by the number on his back, he never tries to go round you, it’s over the top or nothing. Known for always being a positive ray of sunshine at training.

12. FINAU PAU’U UIKILIFI MAKAMAKA: It’s rare to see a bloke in his mid-thirties putting on shots, but that’s what Makamaka does. A veteran player who’s known for his hard hits and runs, occasional coaching insight, and never participating in fitness.

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13. BEN DUCKWORTH: ‘Ducky’ once told me he plays his best footy hungover. It comes as no surprise then that Ducky has been in phenomenal form all year – or at least for the second half of the season when he decided to start turning up again.

14. JOHNNY MITSIAS: A quality centre/wing who’s been up and down between 3’s and 4’s all year, Johnny has been instrumental in attack and defence whenever we’ve been lucky enough to have him, although he’s still heartbroken ‘Steady’ isn’t in his team this week.

15. CILLIAN MONAHAN: ‘Mono’ is lucky he offers so much on the rugby field, otherwise his antics on the piss would have no doubt had him ostracised by now. When Mono’s hamstring has managed to stay intact, his season has been characterised by an aggressive and risqué style of play. Whether this had anything to do with a period of celibacy is yet to be seen.

Replacements:

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16. JUM WOODHILL: Turned to the hooker role after a successful Covid bulk and noticing a lack of hookers at the early weeks of training. By the time they all rolled back in it was too late, and armed with a Steeden headgear, the transition was complete and he’s since been an integral part of the 4rd Grade team. An asset on and off the field.

17. ALEX EPA IOSEFA: Rumour has it he was meant to be out for the year but got so inspired by 4rd Grade he had to make a return. Thank the God of props he did, Alex has been an immense presence off the bench this year since his return from injury.

18. TIM REEVES: The reason why the team has to spend 20 minutes on the scrum machine every week. A strong ball carrier/player on the field, and an even stronger sledger off it. Currently searching for a pair of Josh Papalii budgie smugglers, anyone with information please contact on him on: 0478 820 804

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19. ALEX HARROD: Another older head, Harrod returned to Randwick this year after an extended hiatus, in which time it is undetermined if he ate a single meal given the drastic weight loss. Although he doesn’t believe in doing the warm up with the team, on the field he is the ultimate team player. Alex has lined up in the centres, backrow and second row, and has maintained a high performance level through the positional switches.

20. GEORGE LOLO: A not-so gentle giant, but a man with a kind heart. The only player this year to knock a player out (by accident), carry him off the field, and have both sides wait an extra few minutes to pack a scrum because George was on the sideline apologising to the player.

21. JAMES BEAUFILS: 4rd Grade’s very own version of Lewie Taie. Undoubtedly one of the loudest mouths on the rugby field; unfortunately for opposition and team mates alike, he can back it up – or so he claims.

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22. RYLEY ANGLES-CORKE: When Ryley grows up he wants to be just like Conor McGregor – minus the UFC fighting, criminal charges, money and actually being Irish. He does however aspire to sound like him, so when not marshalling the troops on the field he’s bound to be practicing his accent around the 4rd Grade Irish contingent.

23. KEVIN KEANE: ‘Pub head’ Keano, a true Irishman with an undying love for singing and drinking. Kev has been a consistent finisher for the 4’s on the wing, a performance which comes as a great surprise because we all thought he just joined for a place to drink on a Saturday.

24. WES LOLO: A man of this size and speed should not be playing 4th Grade, he’d be better suited playing league for the Newtown Jets. It’s very lucky for us he returned from a near-season long injury in time for finals.

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25. SOSEFO SMITH: Only known to turn up when Maka Maka turns up, otherwise forget about it – the reason for which is still unclear. I can only assume it’s separation anxiety. It’s fortunate for us that Maka Maka turns up pretty regularly these days, because Sef is a danger on the wing.

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