Brief History (1972-2016) of the Bowraville Junior Rugby League
Rugby League has always been Bowraville’s premier sport. During the reign of the mighty Bowraville Tigers senior club, Bowraville’s local schools encouraged rugby league and the majority of students attempted to emulate their local senior heroes by enthusiastically participating in events organised by the schools and the Nambucca Valley competition.
Coinciding with the folding of the Bowraville senior club, representatives from the Bowraville Central School and St. Mary’s Convent School founded the Bowraville Junior Rugby League Club in 1972. BJRL club participated in the local competition with teams aged between 8 & 14 until the competition lost momentum.
A bond between Bowraville and Macksville players enabled the club to regenerate and enter two teams in the Group 2 Beautizone competition in 1980 with the under 16’s coached by Rex Tape making the grand final that year, beaten by 1 point by Coffs Harbour at Woolgoolga. In 1983 the champion under 15’s side coached by Maurie Lonergan and assisted by Danny Doolan won the club its first Beautizone premiership.
BJRL went from strength to strength where participation numbers escalated and is now considered one of the strongest and more professional clubs in the State. Over 250 kids have been registered with the club per season for many years, regularly one of the highest participation rates in Group 2. The club is also proud to have been crowned Group 2 Club Champions for ten of the last twelve years. The club has also won scores of premierships and a host of former juniors have made the grade in the NRL with Greg Inglis representing Queensland? and Australia.
In 1987 the club achieved an amazing feat, winning six (6) from six (6) grand finals (10’s to 15’s) at Woolgoolga. On that same day Scotts Head now considered a valuable area of the BJRL had a team in the 16’s but went down narrowly. The club was on a roll where the following year on home turf it took out five (5) from five (5) premierships (11’s to 16’s).
For over 40 years the club has been fortunate enough to have dedicated and committed people at the ‘controls, reins or pedals’ where the numbers make too difficult to mention names, suffice to say they have all played their part. The increase in participation numbers over the years when many clubs lost numbers highlights the reverence the club has and its value to the community. The club has prided itself on enhancing its juniors with the social, self confidence, team spirit and community qualities to have more fulfilling lives. Juniors of the past may not have had successful rugby league careers but predominantly have found success in other avenues of life.
A strong Rugby League relationship has developed between Bowraville and Macksville districts over the years combining in both the junior and senior ranks. BJRL players can be seen as the backbone of the Macksville Sea Eagles senior teams assisting them be a premiership force in Group 2. The great majority of the current Macksville & District Sea Eagles players have played junior league with the Bowraville Tigers.
It can be safely said that the community mindedness of the founders of 1972, the restorers of 1980 and the countless steadfast volunteers since then has enabled the Bowraville Junior Rugby league incorporating the Macksville, Scotts Head and Taylors Arm areas to become a talented, admired and respected junior league and community club.