The Coffs Harbour Rugby Union Club certainly has a unique and dramatic history. Born out of intense rivalries and necessity, the club as it stands today in one of the most successful in country New South Wales.
The first incarnation of the Coffs Harbour Rugby Club was established in 1973. Known as the Snappers, the club entered the Far North Coast competition and took out both the first and second grade premierships in its inaugural year.
For the best part of the next two decades, the Snappers dominated the competition, taking out 13 premierships in 17 years. This included a run of 7 undefeated seasons in first grade, an incredible record that is yet to be surpassed. As the club, competition and City of Coffs Harbour evolved, it was decided that the Snappers would form two clubs and join a new competition to accommodate the influx of players and reduce travelling.
So in 1990 Coffs Harbour Harlequins and Northern Beaches (known as ‘Beaches’) rugby clubs were formed and were entered into the more geographically friendly Mid North Coast competition. Thus began one of the fiercest rivalries in country rugby, with both clubs sharing facilities, training paddocks, playing grounds and an intense desire to beat the stuffing out of each other on the field.
‘Beaches’ and ‘Harlies’ clashes were always hard and close and with each club having their own rowdy band of supporters, they never failed to draw a crowd. Despite becoming two clubs, the strength and player depth remained so strong that the two Coffs clubs fought out the first two first grade grand finals, with Harlequins winning both.
In 1995, Southern Cross University entered teams in the Reserve Grade and Under 19 competitions, tasting immediate finals success in their formative years. Known as the Marlins, the students established a passionate club, with the loyal support of the uni community and a fun social atmosphere. The Marlins won the Presidents Cup trophy in 1998.
At the beginning of the 1999 season, Harlequins and the Marlins combined resources and became the SCU Harlequins, going on to win a memorable grand final that year against the powerful Grafton Redmen. The Beaches club changed their named in 2001, reverting to the old Snappers mark. While they were strong on the field, the club struggled and eventually folded in 2002.
So in 2003 SCU Harlequins joined forces with the Snappers and put their loyalties aside to form one club. It was called Coffs Rugby. Coffs Rugby won first grade premierships from 2003 to 2006, only losing a handful of games along the way. The club played against teams from the New England competition in 2003 and 2004 and were proud holders of the Authur Tonkin Shield for both years. That success filtered through to the lower grades with trophies in both reserve grade and under 18’s competitions along the way. In 2005 they won all three grand finals.
In 2008 Coffs Harbour nominated two first grade teams in the MNCRU competition to help strengthen the zone. In 2009 the 2 teams played each other in the Grand Final where Coffs Harbour Breakers defeated Coffs Harbour Crushers.
In 2010 we witnessed the return of the Southern Cross Marlins to the MNC competition entering a reserve grade team. Coffs Harbour won the reserve grade and under 19 competition in 2010. In 2011 Coffs Harbour entered only one first grade team.
Despite their differences over the years, there is a positive atmosphere and unity between clubs in Coffs Harbour, traditions have flowed from all the formative clubs, and the old Beaches, Harlies, Snappers and Marlins jumpers still litter the field at training and in talks at the pub.
With the continued support of our sponsors over many years the rugby in Coffs Harbour continues to be competitive at all levels every year. Over the past few years we have seen the rapid expansion of our juniors. Many of which have gone on to play representative rugby at the highest level including Dwayne Vines (NSW Waratahs and Wallabies), Rory Walton (Western Force), Tim Metcher (Australian under 20’s and Melbourne), Duncan Chubb (Australian under 20’s), Jack Winchester (Australian School boys and Western Force), Lachlan Chubb (Hong Kong National team) and Mitch Walton (Australian Barbarians). All of these players continue to support the Coffs Harbour Snappers and hopefully we can provide a pathway for your child to reach their potential in a caring family club that has a professional outlook on everything.
There are some here today think Coffs started in ‘73 But there are many oldies who will vehemently disagree. There was Giddy, Peterson, Cunningham, Laffo, Gregg and Thorne, Eggins, Hancock, Munday, and the youngster Marky Gawne.
At the Grafton Knockout we played farmers from up at Guyra Who we kicked and punched and gouged as we got off to a flyer.
They had a young fresh-faced hooker, I think he was very green Who walked off early saying “You’re the dirtiest I’ve ever seen.’ Our team of Mongos and Rah-Rahs had held them for a while But a typical dickhead ref cramped our bloody style.
Then came the winter of 72 and we were ready for the fray To be visited by Merewether Carlton and we were hot to play.
Now for the historians among you that team was pretty grouse With Beedie, Hoy, Struthers, Gregg, Lightfoot and Backhouse With Munday, Crouchie, Curly, Purdy, Laffo and Green Eggins, Chambers, Henderson ‘twas the best we’d ever seen.
Our team was waiting at the Fitz to greet their visiting bus But they were late and shorthanded so we lent them two of us.
Next we travelled down to Port to play the men in black, Starting today’s bitter rivalry, there’s still no turning back.
The highlight of the season was the Uni of New South Wales A team made up of twenty, misogynist testtestoronic males.
They even had choirmaster, he knew every song in the book. He was like a pale whale believe me that’s how big he looked.
We had a singing BBQ after a very hard fought game Where we held our heads up high, to lose there was no shame.
At the racecourse on Sunday we had lunch before they left. But they’d decided to run the inaugural Coffs Bowl Gift.
Our one and only runner was the stripling young Mark Gawne When they got to the start they were as nude as they were born.
The ‘gun’ went off, the runners ran, their appendages really swinging As down they straight they came their club song they were singing. It was a two furlong race along the racecourse straight. We only had one starter, handed it to them on a plate. There was no stopping at the post. They clambered on the bus Left Vice President Gerry Power to clean up all the fuss. The phone lines had lit up at the local phone exchange, For the residents living on the hill had thought it really strange. For what they’d had seen that day was a race out on the course They’d seen twenty streakers, no sign of a bloody horse. One week later on, after the hue and cry had died down, We returned for the annual knockout in nearby Grafton town. We knocked over Grafton seconds and beat Lismore as well And with a Curly field goal, defeated favourites, Inverell. We had no lineout lifting, no blood bin, or flashy shoes, No compulsory insurance, nor red cards for harmless blues. Yeah you young-uns might think, rugby started in seventy three.
But we were there well before that, it’s bloody plain to see!!!
Foundation Secretary, CHRU.