James de Dassel will continue his trip down memory lane in Armidale on Friday says Armidale Express.
The former Inverell Highlander is managing the Australian Pacific 7s side who will play in the Tokyo Domestic Rugby 7s Tournament at Moran Oval this Friday and Saturday, and was part of last week’s Santos Festival of Rugby at Narrabri.
The first time de Dassel had been back at Dangar Park in more than 10 years it brought back some mixed memories for the former fullback and second grade coach.
“I think I’ve scored a couple of tries here back in the day,” he reflected. “I’ve (also) lost plenty of semi-finals and club rounds here.”
His last memory though is a pretty sweet one. “I think the last time I was here was the 2008 prelim (final). I was a spectator and Inverell beat Narrabri right on full-time to get through to the grand final, which they ended up winning at Pirates.”
De Dassel also has plenty of memories of playing in Armidale. He donned the red and green of Albies while at uni and later played with the Highlanders in the annual Armidale Knockout.
Most recently he suited up for the Harbour Knights third grade side during their New England cameo last season after settling on the coast following 11 years in Darwin. He said the time up north was a “great experience”.
Through a former Albies team-mate he got involved with South Darwin rugby club, where as well as pulling on the boots for the Rabbitohs he served as president for a time. He is still their treasurer.
He also managed the Northern Territory Rugby 7s program.
The rugby scene up there is “growing”, he said. He expects that only to continue with former Gordon general manager Shane Sullivan appointed late last year as the Chief Executive Officer for Northern Territory Rugby.
“There’s a lot of energy and commitment,” de Dassel said.
There’s also a lot of untapped talent, the isolation and the logistical and financial difficulties associated with that, the biggest hurdle.
De Dassel was the one that really instigated the Pacific sides’ involvement in the Narrabri and Armidale tournaments.
“I was speaking with the Australian coach when all this was being put together and I just suggested they put in a fourth team,” he said.
“One of the players at our club Setefano Cakau is a former Fiji 7s captain; he’s living here in Australia now.
“I just said to him would you like to put a side together?.”
The action gets underway at Moran Oval at 3.50pm on Friday running through into the night, with the last game kicking off at 7.30pm, and then 11am on Saturday.
Entry is $5 with kids under 15 free.
DAY 1 – FRIDAY
Gates Open at 3:00pm
3:50 – AUST v PAC
4:10 – QLD v NSW
5:30 – NSW v PAC
5:50 – AUST v QLD
7:10 – QLD v PAC
7:30 – NSW v AUST
DAY 2 – SATURDAY
Gates open at 10:00am
11:00 – 1 v 4
11:20 – 2 v 3
1:20 – 3rd Place Playoff
1:40 – Final