Hall rugby club ‘stonewalled’ by ACT Government as they seek to fix embarrassing Hall showgrounds

Lachlan Roberts 23 September 2019 9

Picture of the Hall playing fields taken from a drone last year. Photo: Supplied by Hall Rugby Club.

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 two playing fields in Hall are in contrasting condition. Photo: Lachlan Roberts.

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”.

Mr Milligan has called on the Government to provide topsoil to level the ground, grass seed and water to start fixing the showgrounds. Photo: Lachlan Roberts.

“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.

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9 Responses to Hall rugby club ‘stonewalled’ by ACT Government as they seek to fix embarrassing Hall showgrounds
Lachlan Roberts Lachlan Roberts 10:39 am 28 Mar 18

An ACT Government spokesperson has contacted me with the following statement:

“The ACT Government acknowledges the desire of the Bushrangers for additional facilities at Hall including a second irrigated oval, upgraded facilities and construction of a grandstand.

While one oval is irrigated for the local competition, the other oval is used largely for the Hall Markets.

The government will continue to engage with the ACT Brumbies as the peak body for Rugby Union regarding future planning for rugby facilities in the Gungahlin region more broadly.

Any proposals for upgrades and additional facilities at Hall will be considered in light of other priorities for investment in sporting infrastructure across Canberra.”

shaun OConnor shaun OConnor 11:44 am 27 Mar 18

The Hall oval and associated showgrounds are iconic to Canberra.
Hall was home to the Royal Canberra Show for more than 40 years, the first cricket and rugby league matches were played on the ground and the area still holds national sheep dog trials, National Polo cross carnivals and many other events that bring plenty of revenue to the ACT government. A small outlay for amenities, ground restoration and lighting would be returned in a few years. Stand up pollies and make your community a better place.

John Moulis John Moulis 8:03 am 26 Mar 18

This is symptomatic of the general attitude to Hall since Canberra began. Hall Village pre-dated Canberra, and was a problem child the ACT was forced to take in due to geography. There was no railway line which could form the border and exclude it from the ACT like Queanbeyan.

Over the years there have been various attempts to make Hall more “Canberra”. In the 1970s there was going to be a new subdivision built right next to the village. That proposal was dropped, and years later Gungahlin sprung up which has almost done the same thing.

It is only in recent years that Hall’s status as a heritage village has been acknowledged and the ACT government has seen it in that context. Nevertheless, issues such as the neglected state of the sports field need attention, and perhaps a new strategy for maintaining the village and resolving issues such as this should be embarked upon.

Marko Lehikoinen Marko Lehikoinen 10:42 am 25 Mar 18

If it is "community use" land, maybe the government has it earmarked for more special needs public housing, to take the burden off Oakes Estate? Just waiting for developers to take an interest and make submissions.

Maddison Farrawell Maddison Farrawell 8:59 pm 24 Mar 18

probs cause they waana build apartments there

Michael Ahern Michael Ahern 7:37 pm 24 Mar 18

But Gungahlin gets a tram.....💩💩

Glynis Quinlan Glynis Quinlan 7:00 pm 24 Mar 18

Hall is one of my favourite places in Canberra - such a lovely place! I can't believe the playing fields have been left in such a deplorable condition. It doesn't seem like it would take a lot to improve their condition - just some government willpower!

Adam Cockburn Adam Cockburn 3:56 pm 24 Mar 18

There have been sporting gatherings in the past I’ve noticed with numerous clubs traveling hours to engage in recreational activities followed by the clubs hospitality. At any time on these occasions there may be up to 3 teams expecting not just change rooms but any facilities. Be it from Wagga or Young, Goulburn or Cooma these sporting clubs can’t be expected to continue turning up to (Canberra) sporting competitions when this is the standard Canberra expects them to put up with. This is shocking neglect not only for Hall but for any country clubs participating in anything on these grounds. Clearly it’s time to take responsibility canberran government

Adam Vinning Adam Vinning 3:14 pm 24 Mar 18

ACT government delaying recreational infrastructure? Imagine if it was next to the light rail.

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