Cootamundra has defeated Grenfell 40-8 in their first match of the season at Grenfell and they will return to what has previously been called Country Club Oval at Coota this Saturday, where they will take on last years’ premiers the Young Yabbies under the newly named Bassingthwaighte Park.

 

It has been a long time coming the name change, with former President Steve Hardy initiating the decision with his previous committees before current President Wayne Berkrey has continued to guide the process to its fruition with the recent committees.

Wayne said, “It seems like Steve has been around the club forever and he had three sons who were all great Rugby players who played rep footy. He has had a lot to do with the building of the new clubhouse and over the years he has had numerous committee positions. He is just one of those blokes who was always there if you sung out and needed a hand, he is probably the most respected person in the club.”

Wayne said, “I think Steve is one of those blokes that every club would love to have.”

The club recently received a cheque for $3,000 for helping out at the Kinloch Equestrian weekend at Wallendbeen. “It was a very generous donation, it’s a lot of chook raffles otherwise.”

Brad Jones, Wayne Berkrey and Andrew Sheridan.

Wayne said, “Grounds don’t often get names changed. To change the name of a field or a playing area, it’s very unique.”

Wayne joked that he wished it was an easier name to spell like a Cook or Smith, however, praised the affiliation that the Bassingthwaighte family had with Rugby and the land since all the way back to the 1950s.

The Times also caught up with Steve Hardy. He said, “Around the end of 2018, beginning of 2019 we discussed the ground which was previously owned by the family. Their father was instrumental in getting the golf course moved and some blocks of land subdivided from there up to the hospital. The housing land became available in the 1960s.”

The ground was a bit of a swamp further down where the football ground is now.

The Bassingthwaightes gave it to the golf club and the club to the Council. Later on Council did some work and the Rugby club ended up levelling it, carting in sand from Jugiong way and from there they used it for cricket and Rugby.

“It’s in pretty good shape now and a good ground when it’s not too wet. In March 2019 we sent a letter to Council asking for a name change. Council passed that but then it had to go to the geographical names board, it has taken quite a while and was finalised towards the end of last year.”

Jeff White and Wayne Berkrey on the BBQ.

“We thought it was appropriate to have it named after them. The family weren’t that keen initially, but we thought it appropriate and that they should be and the family came around and that’s where it all started from.”

Steve like Wayne was quick to deflect the attention. They both discussed the many people who helped get the clubhouse built and made it the way it is today, including the renaming of the ground and the many hands who built the current grandstand.

The Times caught up with Jon Bassingthwaighte, a well-known local and a representative of the family who provided some more information to the paper.

He said, “My grandfather Norman Bassingthwaighte was initially involved. The Council transformed it a long time ago. It used to have Cricket on it also. For as long as I know it’s been associated with the Rugby club. The family have been lucky enough to have a long association with the Rugby club. My father and my uncle Philip and Gerald. They are Norman’s son and Robyn is the daughter, Dad’s sister, she has had a long association. I think we are very appreciative and honoured for the club to approach the Council and have it renamed to Bassingthwaighte Park. My niece is still playing for the juniors and my kids have all been through the system. I’ve been through, Gerald’s boys also and there’s other connections with Norman’ brothers’ sons Toby Bass. There is a big family connection with the club and the ground.”

Pre season training.

The majority of the family will be coming with members from as far as Sydney and Singleton and some of the older family members who live locally.

Jon said, “In regards to Norman’s family I think we are all coming.”

The field used to run north-south and now accommodates two Rugby fields.

The club along with many neighbouring competitions has seen two sides entered and sometimes one depending on which competition they were playing in at the time. In 2024 the club is embracing a new wave of players who will no doubt have their combinations in place soon.

Jon said, “It’s nice to have some history and a bit of recognition. It goes back to my grandfather and what he has done and how it’s helped give the Rugby club a home along with the Council. We are just humbled and honoured to be recognised with the history.”

Saturday’s game against Young will commence at 3.15pm. Earlier in the day will be the official unveiling of the new name. This Saturday is also the club’s sponsor’s day.

Players coming together for their Rugby.

Saturday as follows-

1.30pm – Clubhouse open

1.45pm – Welcome Address

1.50pm – History of the Ground

2.00pm – Bassingthwaighte Family Response

2.10pm – Jersey Presentation

3.15pm – Kick off Coota vs Young