Behind the Cups with Peter Ryan

“Behind the Cups,” is a new series where we sit down one-on-one with people from club land for an in-depth conversation discussing their rugby journey. Behind every cup are the unsung heroes that help build upon the legacy of our game.

From first running out on the paddocks of Yeoval to taking the field with the Batemans Bay Boars as a player, a coach and referee. When it comes to rugby Peter Ryan is all in! Dedicating his time and talents to serve and build the game we love in his local community.

Peter Ryan

Hi Peter, thank you for meeting with me. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to speak with you. You have an amazing history with rugby especially across your local community.

I’m really nothing special. Rugby is just something I really enjoy doing. It’s been a great journey and something I hope to continue to do. Now I’m more behind the scenes in admin and support roles rather than playing which is better on the body but still a lot of hard work. I think everyone should sign up for admin roles in rugby to really understand what goes on behind the scenes.

I came from a farming family who didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of fun and a lot of love. It made me appreciate everything more and work harder to earn the things I wanted.

Can you share with us your start in rugby and what got you involved within rugby in Canberra and surrounding regions.

I was born and raised on a farm in the Central West at a small place called Yeoval. At the age of 12 I commenced playing Rugby for the Yeoval Eagles in their U15’s. It was the only team they had. My Coach was Bluey Stanbrook, a giant man and local legend who knocked back an opportunity to tour with the Wallabies as he had to sow his wheat crop. I played with the Yeoval Eagles for 4 years. For the final year I was 16 years old as was half the team. I then played reserve grade for Yeoval for playing my first 1st grade at 18 against Bathurst.

I then moved to Mudgee and played U18s Rugby League on Sundays. I would travel back to play Rugby with Yeoval on Saturdays and then Rugby League Sundays. I mostly played Rugby League until age 21 winning 2 first grade competitions with Mudgee. I transferred to Boorowa end of 1975 then suffered a serious knee injury 1976 playing a trial with Harden Murrumbateman that resulted in no games that year.

The following year I captained Coached Boorowa Rugby League into the Grand Final. To strengthen the team, I identified a few Rugby boys we needed so, as a gentleman’s agreement I played Rugby on Saturdays for Boorowa Goldies, and they played League for me on Sundays.

After that time, I transferred to Canberra and played with Woden Valley Rams plus one year as Captain Coach with Valley Statesman. Although playing in a professional code I still managed the occasional game of Rugby when I could.

In 1984 I moved to Batemans Bay. I had another knee injury prior to going to Batemans Bay and accepted that playing Rugby was over. After a 2-year layoff and 3 operations I met up with several Batemans Bay Boars players. They were good fun, a young Club, and an important part of our family social gatherings. I asked if I could train with them to keep fit and the rest is history.

Some weeks down the track they were short and asked could I have a run. I had a ball and stayed to play another 220 games. I went on to Captain Coach the Boars for 5 season’s and win 3 First grade Grand Finals.

Wow, what an impressive history and journey in rugby. What has been one of your biggest highlights?

The greatest highlight of my entire career was playing with both my son’s Matthew & Christopher with the Batemans Bay Boars. Not only did we play together but we won a Grand Final on the paddock plus they were both in my teams I coached. You generally remember things like winning grand finals or try saving tackles or scoring the runaway try.

For me I dearly remember that experience of playing with my sons, I really treasure it. At that time my boys were only young between 17 and 19 years old. It was back in the days when the young boys could just jump in any game it didn’t matter about their ages. After that season was when I took more of a step back in terms of playing.

I first decided to play for Batemans Bay because it was my local club, but I chose to stay because of the family environment and support system we have built there. It’s been great to see my boys grow up and find a love of the game themselves.

Peter Ryan 2

Community and family are so important, it’s wonderful when you can find both in your local club. You mentioned earlier all your injuries over the years, what has motivated you to continue to press forward with rehab and recovery?

I’ve always had a positive outlook. I knew that the best thing would be to follow the advice of medical professionals and stick with the tools they had given me; no matter what happened I just thought about getting on with it. Always reminding myself I’ll get back to the game one way or another. Now I’m focused on refereeing. I’m grateful I can still go out and run around on the paddock despite previous injuries.

I know many players whose rugby careers were stopped short due to injury. That’s why I encourage others to still be involved within the game even if it may be different than their originals goals and plans. Everyone can support their local club in some way.

Often admin or board positions are vacant in rugby clubs because no one puts their hand up but then you have some guy like who just puts their hand up. The reality is clubs do not survive without the people who work behind the scenes. Wherever you live there are local clubs with good people who have the game and as a community we can all contribute to the legacy.

We greatly appreciate all your dedication to the game Peter; you have played an integral part in local community rugby. What is one of your goals moving forward?

I have been a committee person with Batemans Bay Boars since 1987 and held all Executive positions at some stage – President, Secretary & Treasurer. In addition, I have been an active participant with South Coast Rugby Zone (formerly Far South Coast) including President for approximately past 25 years.

Currently my energy is going into reforming a regular South Coast Rugby competition. Although teams enjoy the quality of the current competition travel is a burden. We have many players with young families and the distance to games does place both financial and physical burdens on them. We now have interest from 5 teams with a fair bit of work in the background with keen interest and support from Brumbies. I say - Watch this space! I am hopeful that new opportunities and avenues will open.

We’ll be sure to watch the space! We’re coming towards the end of our sit-down conversation today before I let you go; I have a round of quick questions.

What was the last song you listened to?

Eagle Rock! I was listening to it right before we started.

Who was the first person you texted this morning?

Oh, I barely used my phone today so no one.

Who is your rugby hero?

I like John Eales (Australian Wallaby Captain and Australian Rugby Hall of Fame) He was a big man; he could tackle, and score tries. He’s a gentleman and just an all-round good guy.

John Eales is legend on and off the field!

Next question, on game days what is your favourite snack?

I always have a big breakfast and then pack a banana and muesli bar. I need to have something to keep me going when I’m running around.

What is one of your favourite rugby memories?

In 2000 at Sydney Olympic Stadium, I watched Australia take on New Zealand. My whole family was sitting there right behind the goal post when the winning try was scored right in front of us. The crowd went insane, the atmosphere was amazing! You always remember whenever the Wallabies beat the All Blacks.

Thank you again for taking time out of your day Peter to share more of a glimpse into your life rugby journey. All the best for Batemans Bay Boars and the South Coast Rugby Competition.

Peter Ryan 3
*Notes about Interviewer: Georgia Rae Abel was raised on the side lines of the rugby field watching her dad coach and brothers play before strapping on the boots herself. Playing in Junior rugby, on her high school teams and in Women’s Premier 15s. Georgia Rae has a wide background in rugby on and off the field.