Wauchope Thunder duo Paddy Bowen and Tom Blanch bound for American rugby trip

Overseas trip beckons: Paddy Bowen and Tom Blanch will head to America next month. Photo: Ivan Sajko

Overseas trip beckons: Paddy Bowen and Tom Blanch will head to America next month. Photo: Ivan Sajko

A RELATIONSHIP with the USA Stars will send Wauchope Thunder duo Paddy Bowen and Tom Blanch to America next month.

Bowen and Blanch will form part of a small contingent of Mid North Coast rugby identities set to play their part in helping to make rugby more of a “global” sport.

“It’s [more about] scouting and development and building your global rugby network,” Bowen said.

The arrangement with the Stars and the Thunder was initiated little more than 12 months ago when Bowen “got talking” to the USA Stars tour director on the Central Coast.

At the time, the Thunder president was with Central North at the Central Coast 7s.

“They were going over to Fiji (after the Central Coast) and their physio pulled out at the last minute so they gave me a call up,” Bowen said.

I went over and did a bit of physio and then one of their coaches missed their flights so I did a bit of coaching over there as well.

Paddy Bowen

“I went over and did a bit of physio and then one of their coaches missed their flights so I did a bit of coaching over there as well.

“Then the next thing I know I’m about to go on my third tour with them.”

Bowen said over time, the club wanted to take a player or two overseas to show them that rugby was a global game.

“Hopefully it will give players like Tom an opportunity to spend a few years over there,” Bowen said.

“We’re taking one of our girls over there for the Singapore Sevens; they’re playing the Singapore national team to give them a taste of what it’s like to play against an international side.

“It makes them better footballers so when they do come back to Port or Wauchope or this area, we benefit from it.”

Bowen has seen first hand the growth of rugby union in the United States where traditionally American Football had dominated the headlines.

He spent some time in the college system over there previously.

“It’s astronomical; it’s hard to quantify how much [rugby has] grown,” he said.

“They’re producing a high quality of player now so it’s only a matter of time before they do [compete in the seven-a-side competitions regularly].

They’re producing a high quality of player now so it’s only a matter of time before they do [compete in the seven-a-side competitions regularly].

Paddy Bowen

“They’re a big country, but they’ve got a lot of fires burning because they struggle a bit on the administration side of things.

“They do have some absolute weapons coming out of their systems who don’t want to play American football anymore.”

The Thunder president was hopeful he would be making more trips to countries such as America where he could spread the rugby word.

“You’ve got to start somewhere,” Bowen said.

“It’s like any sport – it’s a numbers game and if they’ve got the numbers and the pathway is there, they’ll start producing quality eventually.”

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