Rugby players are being forced to change in the middle of a field full of weeds and rabbit holes after the ACT Government “stonewalled” the Hall rugby club’s repeated requests for improvements to the local playing facilities.
The “embarrassing” home ground of Hall Bushrangers Rugby Club has two playing fields, which are in contrasting quality.
One field is in pristine condition while the field beside it is dry and scattered with rabbit holes and divots. ACT Opposition Sports spokesperson James Milligan described the field as a “cow paddock”.
The showgrounds also lack facilities like storage areas, ground lighting, toilets and change rooms, forcing players to get changed in the open within view of the main road.
In case of wet weather, the only option for visiting teams to change is to use the Hall pavilion which has a dirt floor and no power.
Bushrangers Club President Jeremy Watson said the fields were an “embarrassment for the club, players and supporters and the general community who might be passing by”.
The Hall rugby club has used the sports grounds for the last 25 years, and Mr Watson is worried about players hurting themselves on their ‘warm-up’ field because of its terrible condition.
The Hall Bushrangers has sought the ACT Government’s help to improve the playing facilities which will allow local sporting teams to take full advantage of the facilities.
With the showground in good condition, the Hall Bushrangers would be able to schedule more games and warm-up and play in safety. It would also allow the local Hall King Browns cricket team to play on their home ground.
In an email sent to Active Canberra on the 28th of June last year, the Bushrangers asked for “formal support and funding from the ACT Government to upgrade the Hall Sportsground”.
But according to Mr Watson, the club has been “stonewalled” by the government, and have been told the field is for “community use” and therefore does not need to be upgraded.
In the email from David Rolfe, the Vice President of Cooma Rugby Union Football Club, he threw his support behind the club’s attempt to improve their facilities.
“I do not believe in this day and age, that players should be subject to change into their game outfits, both before and after the game, out in the open and exposed to weather conditions,” Mr Rolfe said.
With around 10 letters of support from other clubs including Blind Cricket ACT and Goulburn Rugby Union Football Club, the rugby club has turned to the ACT Opposition Sports spokesperson James Milligan, who called the fields an “eyesore”.
“Like many sports grounds and clubs in Canberra, the sporting facilities at Hall are an eyesore and do not serve the needs of the community and could also present a real safety issue. The sports ground looks like a sheep’s paddock: it is dry, dusty, and full of weeds with rabbit holes and divots all over it.”
Mr Milligan has called on the Government to provide topsoil to level the ground, grass seed and water to start fixing the showgrounds.
“With even slight backing from the government, the Hall Bushrangers RUFC could push not just their core club activities but the emerging women’s team they are trying to get off the ground.”
“Unfortunately, this story is all too common for sporting grounds and clubs across Canberra lacking adequate investment, maintenance and facilities. The government needs to explain its process for prioritising sport and recreation funding in the ACT.”
Comments were sought from the sports ground manager at Active Canberra and Minister for Sport and Recreation Yvette Berry.
Do you think the ACT Government should fix the playing facilities at Hall?