Rugby in Union?

Over the semester I got to work with the Woonona Shamrocks Rugby Club to uncover the club’s history for their 50th anniversary in 2019. I helped out with the club by assisting on a Thursday morning when the older members would mow the field and paint the lines for the coming home game. In this time, I got to interview several members of the club and had the opportunity to be granted access to look through the restricted Illawarra Rugby Union archives which informed me on the early history of the club. Initially, for the project, I aimed to help with writing the book for the 50th anniversary, however, I quickly learned that this task was too large, and I would not be able to complete the book within my timeframe. While continuing to assist in creating the 50th-anniversary book, I decided to create a Wikipedia page for the club, this was a great way for me to contribute to the club in the short term and allowed me to create a digital archive that can be used to assist future researchers whilst also promoting the club. Creating the Wikipedia page and assisting with the 50th anniversary book are all ways in which I assisted in helping the club directly.
The second part of my project does not directly benefit the club but is a way in which I can use all the information I have gathered to present a finished product that not only will promote the Shamrocks but benefit the greater rugby community. I have decided to create a videocast or vodcast. I initially decided to just create a podcast, however, I felt that it would be more engaging if there was a visual element to it. I audio recorded rather than video record the interviews as I felt it was too invasive to video the people being interviewed and wanted to showcase the truest perception of the club that I could capture. The vodcast concentrates on the decline of Australian Rugby, the common argument is that this decline is the cause of the neglect of grassroots rugby. The vodcast uses the Shamrocks 50-year history as a case study on a local scale to highlight issues and changes over time on a national level. The overall message is that clubs are built with social connections, with the neoliberal influence of rugby it is losing this social aspect. The Shamrocks from 50 years ago to now is similar, however at a junior level cracks are starting to appear with one participant stating there will not be a junior rugby club in 10 years. Australian rugby is not dead there is still a pulse at a grassroots level and it is these people that I have spent this semester with that is keeping this pulse to continue beating, not because Australian rugby is helping them but because they are helping each other. And this is not indigenous to the Shamrocks but many clubs around Australia. The way to fix Australian Rugby is for rugby to be in union, meaning that this sense of local community needs to emulate from the grassroots to the Wallabies. The last line of the Shamrock songs encapsulates the motivation of the club to continue the struggle through the decline of Australian rugby, ‘until we hear that bell, that final bell, Shamrocks will fight like hell!’.
Wikipedia –
Vodcast –

We’re a pack of Shamrocks

‘We’re a pack of Shamrocks, Shamrocks are we…’, this is the start of the team song that Shamrock Rugby players have sung for the past 50 years. The Woonona Shamrocks play at Ocean Park, an old garbage dump turned into the heart of rugby for the northern suburbs of Wollongong. Next year marks the clubs 50th anniversary in which I aim to capture the essence of what it means to be a Shamrock. On the journey so far to find the clubs history I have learnt the complexities of being a historian. The club itself has limited archives regarding the club’s history, the most valuable sources are a 25th-anniversary book and another by the Illawarra district Rugby Union (the competition the Shamrocks play in) which together form a general history of the club. From this, there are still massive holes in the clubs history with key information missing such as records of years the club didn’t perform well and major milestones such as the club’s first win.
When starting my research I went to the Wollongong library to find any resources on the club, they told me they had nothing and my best bet would be going to the local paper, the Illawarra Mercury. When I went to Illawarra Mercury’s office they told me they had nothing and that I should try the Wollongong library. I had now come to a dead end and after messaging the Illawarra District Rugby Union and other key people my investigating had come to a halt.
Every Thursday morning a group of old boys prep Ocean Park for the coming home game, doing tasks such as watering the grass and mowing the field. I was invited to come to join them and quickly learnt the real reason they met up was not just to the maintain the facilities but rather to catch up over a cuppa and talk about the one thing that connects them together, the love of rugby. Whilst sipping my tea and eating my third lamington I realized that the information I was looking for was right in front of me. When studying history at university you are often removed from the event being studied and almost recalling it as if it were a story. From seeing the old boys talk about their experiences with the club I realized that history and the people in history are real. While I had been trying to find sources in the library I had seemed to have forgotten the start of the team song that I had sung so many times, ‘We’re a pack of Shamrocks, Shamrocks are we…’, I had forgotten about the pack. The Shamrocks Rugby club has a rich history, even though statistics are important it is the individuals that make the club what it is and this is the history I want to be remembered.