ROD Pogson can remember a time when rugby union on the Border was not even an afterthought in the local media.
“In those early days we rated behind darts and racing pigeons,” he said.
“And we were the bottom of the pile when it came to using Greenfield Park, training after the Albury Blues or the Albury Roos had finished for the night.”
Pogson is in as good a position as anybody to marvel at how far rugby has progressed since those days, to a position where Albury will host a Super 15 trial match between the Rebels and the Waratahs at the Albury Sportsground next Saturday.
The Albury solicitor and former Manly first grade player arrived in Albury at the end of 1976, just missing the Steamers first season in what was then the Riverina Rugby Union competition.
He became one of the club’s longest serving players, as well as president and committee member, and was also one of the club’s first publicity officers, an unenviable job if ever there was one.
“It was hard to get any sort of coverage in the local media,” he said.
“If you said you were involved in rugby people thought you were talking about rugby league.”
Pogson said it would have been incomprehensible for people involved in rugby union back then that, even nearly 40 years later, Albury would host a clash between two state teams.
“The match will do a world of good for rugby union in this region, giving it exposure to people who have never seen an elite game of rugby live but have only watched it on television or read about it in the newspapers,” he said.
“It will be for local rugby a microcosm of what the 2003 World Cup, played in Australia, did for rugby right around the country.”
Pogson’s words were echoed by Steamers’ president Justin Clancy.
“This will be a fantastic showcase for rugby union in this area, having two Super 15 teams clash in a trial just a fortnight before the season starts,” he said.
“There will be Wallabies in action and it is a wonderful opportunity for people who love sport, of all types, to watch it at an elite level.
“This will be top-class rugby.”
Clancy said he was hoping 4000 to 5000 spectators would attend.
“That would certainly see it rate as a success,” he said.
“And hopefully we then get the opportunity to host another top-class rugby match.”