It is time for Rugby to build a unity bridge
We are all aware of players such as Lloyd McDermott, the Ella Brothers, Lloyd Walker and Kurtley Beale, and what they have brought to rugby.
I have a close connection with the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people of the Simpson Desert and have witnessed first-hand the wonderful programs the AFL are running for these indigenous people. They are producing a production line of top-class players for AFL Clubs.
Sadly the majority of Australians have never met an Aboriginal person. Many of us largely see our indigenous people, living on the margins of our society, through eyes that have been ingrained with cultural and societal prejudices (prejudices we are unaware of). Witness Sydney University’s inability, over more than 100 years, to take rugby across the road into Redfern.
Thankfully kids make friends easily and rugby makes brothers.
So what can be done? Rugby can build a bridge between boys outside of the Northern Territory and boys playing rugby in the Northern Territory. The idea is for the Australian Rugby Union to facilitate tours up to the Darwin with the agreed purpose of inviting/hosting teams back next year.
The idea is to build relationships that will, on a level, straddle the racial divide. On another level it will encourage Northern Territory kids to play rugby, as it provides them with the incentive of travelling and experiencing other Australians who will make them feel welcome. It will provide all young Australians with the opportunity to enjoy what rugby has to offer.
In the process who knows what may happen: perhaps the next Mark Ella or Kurtley Beale will be discovered.