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The best of grassroots rugby league was on show Tuesday as the Hunter TAFE Newcastle Knights All Schools Knockout finals were played out at Hunter Stadium.

The venue was a buzz with hundreds of young players, students and their families filing into the stadium to watch on as the local schools vied for a trophy in the prestigious competition that’s run since the inception of the Club.

The All Schools Knockout started in May, and in the lead up to the finals saw 4,500 students participate throughout the primary and secondary stages of the carnival.

School teams then travelled from the far-reaching corners of the Hunter Valley to compete in the highly anticipated finals.

The last teams standing progress to the State Knockout to represent both Newcastle and the Hunter Valley in Sydney at the end of July.

“It’s been fantastic and the schools have gotten right behind it,” Newcastle Knights NSW Cup Coach and Community Rugby League Manager Matt Lantry said.

For the students, the carnival provides a unique and captivating experience to see what it’s like for an NRL player to prepare for and play a game at the world-class facility.

“What we try to do is create the day to be similar to a match day experience where the kids go behind the scenes in the change rooms and warm up in the warm up area,” he added.

“We have a little bit of music which is similar to match day and hopefully it’s an all round good experience for everyone involved.”

From participants who play regularly for junior rugby league clubs to students having their first taste of the game, the carnival is all about engaging with young people and encouraging increased participation throughout the region.

“Ideally they come across and engage with rugby league on a consistent basis by playing on the weekend,” Lantry said.

The All Schools Knockout is an event the Club’s partner Hunter TAFE is particularly thrilled to be a part of.

“We are so proud to sponsor this great community event. Hunter TAFE is a strong supporter of the Knights and we believe that education and physical activity go hand-in-hand,” Hunter TAFE CEO, Christine Warrington said.

One of the highlights for the aspiring league players was the stream of NRL Knights who attended the Knockout to present trophies and medals to the participating players.

“It’s a real kick for the kids… there’s a host of NRL players coming throughout the day,” Lantry said.

“I’m sure the kids really enjoy it and appreciate it as well.”
For Newcastle Knights captain Kurt Gidley, watching on at the All Schools Knockout took him back to when he was a young aspiring player.

“What a chance to play at Hunter Stadium. For a young kid just turning up here and playing on the field where they see us play, I think this would be a huge thrill,” he said.

“I remember as a kid playing at Sydney Football Stadium and it’s a memory that I’ll never forget.

“Playing at the big grounds where you watch your favourite players play is always a thrill.

“Our Club is built on local juniors and hopefully we see plenty of these kids come through junior clubs and junior teams and hopefully one day they can be pulling on a first grade jersey and playing here.”

Bernadette Burgess, a teacher at St Paul’s Rutherford believes the students gain a lot from their participation in the competition.

The school returned in 2015 after being grand finalists that advanced to the All Schools Knockout in Sydney.

“It’s all about the sportsmanship and working as a team. To see them working together as a team is wonderful to see,” she said.

The chance to meet and interact with the professional athletes was also a major bonus of the day.

“They look up to these sports players and they look forward to the opportunity to meet them,” she added.





Under 10s B

St Pauls Gateshead


St Marys Scone

St Mary's Scone 28
St Pauls Gateshead 16

Under 10s A

Swansea PS


Scone Grammar School

Swansea 12
Scone Grammar 6

Open B

Anna Bay PS


Denman PS

Denman 28
Anna Bay 24

Open A

St Pauls Rutherford


Scone Grammar School

Scone Grammar 12
St Paul’s Rutherford 10

Under 13s

St Peters Maitland


St Marys Gateshead

St Peter Maitland 38
St Marys Gateshead 14

Under 14s

St Josephs Lochinvar


Singleton High School

St Josephs Lochinvar 28
Singleton HS 24

Under 15s

St Josephs Lochinvar


Callaghan College Wallsend

Callaghan College 38
St Josephs 6

Under 16s

St Pius Adamstown 


St Josephs Lochinvar

St Pius 48
St Josephs 6

CLICK HERE to view the Hunter TAFE Newcastle Knights All Schools Knockout photo gallery.