AT the beginning of this year Ipswich State High’s rugby league squad looked strong and the resolve was there, but whether they could deliver the dream of winning the national rugby league title was only a flicker of a hope.
Nine months later the school is now celebrating on the back of a season the students will never forget.
The squad went through the year undefeated and twice came back from 16-nil down to snatch late victories.
In the school’s cabinet now sits the Australian NRL Schoolboys Trophy, the Langer Trophy and the Phil Hall Qld Cup.
The team didn’t just win the final leg of the trifecta last week, they crushed it. Scoring in the opening minutes they outplayed Fairfield Patrician Bros, a school that has produced some of the legends of the game including Peter Sterling and Greg Alexander.
Many of the team that travelled up from Sydney for the final already had NRL contracts in their back pocket.
Ipswich players had also been identified by league scouts and the match was destined to be a powerful showdown. The only disappointment for lovers of school football was why the game wasn’t scheduled as a preliminary game for NRL grand-final day rather than played as a midweek match at a suburban Brisbane ground.
Possibly the smallest player on the ground, Ipswich’s Gabriel Satrick, showed his potential for a great NRL future when he was named the Peter Sterling Medallist.
Ipswich coach Joshua Bretherton has watched over the school’s rugby league development program for almost a decade and recruited an excellent coaching team to back his vision.
They had gone close to taking out the big trophies before, but always stumbled at the final hurdle.
This year they leaped like a gazelle across the barriers and showed they indeed are the worthy champions of the schoolboy’s game in this country.
Now the hope is to emulate the 2022 team’s performance next year. Can it be done? Ipswich is saying Yes.