Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Wallabies versus Puma test in Perth, Western Australia with my great friend and fellow Co-Founder of Indonesian Rugby, Andrew ‘Darth’ Vater. Having been based for nearly 20 years in Indonesia it is generally hard to get along to a test match involving the Wallabies these days so when the opportunity came up that I would be in Perth, Western Australia on Saturday, 17 September, I grabbed it with both hands.

Tied in with attending the test was the opportunity to catch up with some good rugby mates including John Eales who was so kind to help me arrange via the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to get a ball signed by the Wallabies pre-test.  This special ball will be auctioned off later this year to raise money for the Jakarta Komodos Women’s Rugby Team who are planning an international tour in February 2017. I have been lucky enough to have seen the Wallabies play at venues like Ballymore and Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Eden Park in Auckland and Twickenham in London, but never before had I had the opportunity to see them play a test in Perth so I welcomed this chance with open arms. Although the crowd only numbered around 16,000 the atmosphere at the venue was fantastic.

In Australia rugby is typically thought of as a sport only played in Queensland and New South Wales, which are on the east coast and literally thousands of miles away from Western Australia (WA). Like those in the east, the Perth crowd really loves rugby and I could sense their thirst for more quality rugby in the future. WA is of course the home the Western Force, a Super Rugby franchise, which is unique in a Australian Football League (AFL) mad state, and in some ways this reminded me of the willingness of those trying to make rugby popular here in soccer-mad Indonesia.  The Wallabies have been under the pump this season with only a solitary win against South Africa going into the match after losing five tests on the trot to England and New Zealand. However, last weekend you could sense the injection of youth and some old heads combing to produce glimpses of what the team is aiming to do as it moves forwards. After just 12 minutes, the Wallabies led 21-0 but then had to defend gallantly as the Argentineans began to control the ball and the match.

Early in the second half the score read 21-13 before the Wallabies cranked it up another couple of gears to waltz across the line and take the match 36-20.Back on the local scene here in Jakarta, the Komodos Rugby Club are doing wonderful things for kids and youth rugby, just as the many clubs do in countries like Australia to introduce future players to the game. Any player who makes it to the top and represents the likes of the Wallabies or the Pumas starts off at a local rugby club. So if you are new in town and want your kids to enjoy playing some rugby with their mates or to make some new mates then please join the Jakarta Komodos Junior Rugby Club this weekend. Training sessions are 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings at Jagorawi Sports Club, which is located south of Jakarta off the Bogor Toll Road. As for the ball that was donated by the ARU, it will go up for auction at the annual Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation Golf Day on Thursday, 1 December. Interested bidders are encouraged to join this event which raises money for many programmes involving young Indonesians, including those young ladies playing rugby.

Stephen Barber

Stephen Barber

Born into a rugby-loving family, Stephen has always been passionate about the game. He played for the University of Queensland before a 2-year stint playing in New Zealand. In 2004, Stephen and his friends founded Indonesian Rugby. He still remains a loyal servant of Indonesian Rugby today and was honoured as a life member of the Union in 2013. Stephen is Head of International Relations of Persatuan Rugby Union Indonesia and has been NOW! Jakarta’s rugby contributor since 2008.