The 2017 Koori Knockout is less than 100 days away and we would like to put together everything you need to know about this years competition.
Due to inner city council amalgamations in Sydney there was a long delay before the venue was officially announced. Finally it has been confirmed that Leichardt oval and surrounding grounds will once again host the annual carnival. The carnival is in Sydney again as the event will be hosted by organisers from last years winning team: The Redfern All Blacks.
The Koori Knockout is an annual long weekend of rugby league that showcases some of the best Indigenous rugby league talent in the country. Only Indigenous players are allowed to join the teams of which there are many (around 70) and yes you will get found out if you aren’t a blackfulla. The non-Indigenous community is more than welcome to attend the event. Not only will you see some deadly football skills, you might also see some past and present NRL stars both on and off the field.
The long weekend consists of an open men’s and women’s competition plus U17’s, U15’s & U12’s for boys. The boys and women’s competition starts off early on the Friday of the October long weekend (this year the Friday & Saturday of the long weekend actually fall in the month of September). Daylight savings time also commences on Sunday the 1st of October and this could potentially cause some problems if teams are not at the game on time. The 1st rounds of the men’s competition begins on the Saturday and will be the only day of football for teams who are knocked out in the very first round. Later rounds of the boys and women’s competition continue throughout the weekend and the finals for boys women and the men’s competition will all be played on the final day (Monday) except for the U12’s finals which will be played on Friday. For all info for the junior competitions, you can visit the official Redfern All blacks Knockout website. Some new rules have been made for the women’s and junior competition this year and they include not having a second team (B team) in one age division in the juniors and the women’s competition. The other major change is that the number of teams have been capped to 16 for the junior and women’s competition.
Prior to the competition a gala dinner will be held that includes a live draw that determines which teams will be playing each other in the first rounds. The first round is quite a nervous round for many teams because if something is not right the weekend could be over in the blink of an eye which is a shame when you think about the hours spent training and travelling for the event. As we mentioned before there are a lot of teams who enter the annual knockout. Over the years there have been many memorial teams who come together in honour of respected community members. There have been teams that come and go but there have also been teams that have established themselves as Koori Knockout power houses.
Teams who regularly reach the latter rounds of the competition over the years include Cabbage Tree Island, The mighty Moree Boomerangs, Walgett Aboriginal Connection, Toomelah Tigers, Griffith Three Ways, Bourke Warriors, Biripi Sharks, Newcastle All Blacks, Newcastle Yowies, Kempsey, Redfern All Blacks, La perouse, Narwan Eels, Mindaribba, Cec Patten-Ron Merrit memorial side & Combined Countries (Western Sydney). The great thing about the knockout is that you never know what each team is going to bring until the weekend begins and as many have found out it all comes down to preparation as well as organisation to bring the team together to play at their absolute hardest.
As mentioned earlier the competition does feature a few Indigenous NRL players both past and present and this creates a chance for everyone to test themselves with the games best. Last years competition saw the likes of Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell & David Fifita represent their mobs. The only thing that will stop them from doing the same this year is if they reach the NRL grand final which is played on the same weekend. The grand final got in the way for Andrew Fifita last year but it didn’t stop him from dropping in to catch up with his Griffith Three Ways mob. Other well known regulars at the event include Greg Inglis, Jamal Idris, George Rose and even ‘The Man’ Anthony Mundine.
The Koori Knockouts official name is actually ‘The NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout’. Teams represent different areas of NSW however teams can select players who may not come from that specific area (The only firm criteria is that the players are Indigenous). For example Ben Barba who hails from Mackay played for Walgett back in 2010. The event is covered closely by NITV who run a live stream via their SBS website for the Friday games and they televise the Saturday, Sunday and Monday games on NITV. There are always more than one game happening at the same time and it is currently impossible for NITV to televise all games but we are praying for the day to come when we can press that little red button on the remote to find our favourite team.
If you are new to the Knockout and looking to join a team it is best to ask around and find out who is your closest local team. If you are just a fan of Rugby league and want to witness the event for yourself, entry is only $10 to the grounds. For anyone who is looking to contact the organisers in order to enter a team, run a stall, become a sponsor etc, please visit the Redfern All Blacks website, Facebook page or email the organisers at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. The NSW Aboriginal Land Council also deserves mention as they have played a vital role in the ongoing success of the knockout by offering team subsidies that help with the costs of transport and playing kits over the years.
What: NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout
When: 29th September to the 2nd of October
Where: Leichardt oval and surrounding grounds
Further info yet to be announced: www.redfernallblacksknockout.org.au
Winners: The winners will be the teams who put in the most effort at training, play together as a team and are strongly supported by all members of families and the local community.