Inaugural Deadly Rugby Camp combines benefits of sport with cultural awareness education


The introduction of Deadly Rugby is set to shake up sporting education in the Northern Territory, with a program that aims to create opportunities through sport.

Deadly Rugby is a social enterprise with a goal to make a difference in the lives of children in the NT by providing greater access to sporting equipment for Indigenous kids, as well as delivering cultural immersion programs that inspire, educate and nurture cultural champions non-Indigenous children can learn from and look up to.

This April, the inaugural Deadly Rugby Camp – running from 22 April – 27 April 2024 – has set its sights on fostering a love of rugby, while also teaching those involved about the multifaceted benefits that flow from being part of a sporting community. The camp is billed as a way to give touring school kids access to local Indigenous elders and players as they visit breathtaking country, meet the traditional owners of the land and build genuine connections and improved cultural awareness.

“Our aim is to promote a healthy lifestyle through sport and giving them the equipment to do so,” says Deadly Rugby founder Toby Ellis.

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With three pillars at the heart of the Deadly Rugby offering – after-school, sporting gear and camps – Mr Ellis says the aim is to connect Indigenous children with local rugby clubs.

“The kids get to go to school, then they get to go to rugby training and directly after that, they get a feed,” he says.

“So, hopefully it means they’ve spent the day at school, had a kick of the footy in the afternoon, then head off with a belly full of tucker.”

Nurturing cultural awareness education through a shared love of sport

But the main jewel, says Mr Ellis, is the Deadly Rugby Camps and he hopes to have two camps each year, with up to eight visiting schools from “down south” getting involved to “participate with our players”.

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For the first Dealy Rugby Camp in the upcoming April school holidays, students from Shore School and Barker College in Sydney will join the camp. It’s a week-long immersion experience that will finish with two games – one between the two schools and one that will see the NT Combined Barbarians side against a combined Shore/Barker side the following night.

Shore’s head of rugby David Mason-Jones says he’s excited to provide them with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Darwin.

“Shore is keen to enable opportunities for our students to learn more about our country, its history and the connection Indigenous Australians have with the land,” he says.

Combing sport into such a memorable trip, says Mr Mason-Jones, seemed like a logical move and Barker’s director of Rugby, Manny Posadas, is just as excited about how the unique trip will benefit the school’s students.

“We are thrilled at the prospect of combining two fundamental pillars of life at Barker: Rugby and Indigenous education,” says Mr Posadas.

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“This presents a remarkable opportunity to immerse our students in the rich tapestry of the NT, showcasing its natural wonders and fostering a deep appreciation for its enduring Indigenous heritage. Through the medium of rugby, we aim to install common values shared by our sport while delivering a holistic educational experience.”

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