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Southern Cross crowned surfing’s best at university championships



Alumy Creek Angus - Stud Angus Sires Tenterfield - Top of the Range Angus Genetics

Southern Cross crowned surfing’s best at university championships

Southern Cross University is the country’s greatest competitive surfing university after claiming its ninth title at the UniSport Nationals Surfing Championships on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The result at Coolum Beach puts Southern Cross ahead of closest rival the University of Wollongong with eight titles.

Southern Cross University was also crowned Overall Women’s Champions after the two-day competition.

Leading from the front was Team SCU captain Brittani Nicholl, who took out the Women’s Longboard National title and finished fourth in the Shortboard division. The Digital Media and Communications student is a former World Surf League Qualifying Series (WSL QS) pro surfer who has also represented and captained Team Australia in the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Championships.

“Surfing is a strength of Southern Cross University,” said Brittani, who belongs to the University’s Elite Athlete Program.

“It is one of those sports we do well in, so for us to bring home that title it felt special, not only individually but as a team. It felt good to know we are the best university when it comes to surfing.”

Brittani said it was exciting to be back competing in a team event.

“We’re feeling pretty satisfied. We only had a small team of five this year, off the back of COVID. To be able to compete against other unis with much bigger teams and still walk away with the win, we’re pretty happy with that one.”



Team SCU overcame small, challenging surf conditions to take home a swag of solid results.


  • Brittani Nicholl (Digital Media & Communications) Elite Athlete Program
  • 1st Women’s Longboard
  • 4th Women’s Shortboard
  • Maddie Parker (Education) Elite Athlete Program
  • 3rd Women’s Shortboard
  • 3rd Women’s Longboard
  • 4th Women’s Bodyboard
  • Ruben Brinsmead (Sport & Exercise Science graduate; now studying Master of Teaching)
  • 3rd Men’s Bodyboard
  • 4th Men’s Shortboard
  • Semi-finalist, Men’s Longboard
  • Mitch Barraclough (Clinical Sciences (Osteopathy))
  • Semi-finalist Men’s Shortboard
  • Jesse Carrasco (Nursing)
  • Quarter-finalist, Men’s Longboard
  • Southern Cross also placed third in the Team Challenge, a fun event where four surfers compete in three disciplines (men’s and women’s shortboard, longboard, bodyboard). Each team has 60 minutes for each surfer to catch two waves. The winner is the team with the highest accumulate wave scores.

    Dave Graham, the University’s Sport & Recreation Officer and Elite Athlete Program coordinator, was chuffed to see Southern Cross showcase its surfing prowess and once again take home the overall champion’s trophy.

    “This is the sixth time in the past 10 years that SCU has won the overall surfing championship and the ninth time we have taken it out since the annual university student surfing competition 1994,” said Dave.

    “In my eyes, it gives us the right to claim that SCU is the #1 Surfing Uni in Australia!”

    Brittani said the University’s campus locations at some of the best surf spots along Australia’s east coast was the ideal playground.

    “I think our location does play a factor in the strength of surfing at Southern Cross. Beaches at the Coffs Coast, on the NSW Far North Coast and on the Gold Coast are all surfing hubs. With people surfing and studying, it’s great to have that study/life balance.”

    As well as completing her Digital Media & Communications studies through the University’s Elite Athlete Program, Brittani runs her own business Britt Nicholl Services as a surf coach, works with Surfing NSW across multiple roles including event commentary, and also works with Surfing Australia.

    “It’s great to have a uni like SCU behind you as an athlete, to know you have that support. Dave Graham is pretty amazing, always open for discussion in terms of support,” said Brittani.

    “As an athlete you’re travelling around the country or the world while trying to balance competing, training and study. Just to be at a uni that has that program and the flexibility to be able to understand those commitments and help you make it work is refreshing.”

    Elite Athlete Program at Southern Cross University
    Southern Cross University’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program has been designed to support and encourage students to achieve academic excellence whilst pursuing a sporting career.

    Commonwealth Games boxing gold medallist Shelley Watts, surfers Bec Woods and Ellie Brooks, middle distance runner Simon Rogers, swimmer Moesha Johnson and golfer Eleka Moore are some who have benefited from the University’s Elite Athlete Program.

    * Team SCU celebrates the win (from left) Maddie Parker, Brittani Nicholl, Jesse Carrasco and Ruben Brinsmead (missing Mitch Barraclough). (Credit Southern Cross University).
    * Brittani Nicholl competing in the shortboard event (Credit UniSport).

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Stumpy heads poll for indigenous jersey honour




Alumy Creek Angus - Stud Angus Sires Tenterfield - Top of the Range Angus Genetics

Stumpy heads poll for indigenous jersey honour


By Tim Howard

Legendary South Grafton rugby league player Kevin “Stumpy” Stevens could be the face of his old club, the Sydney Roosters, for its Indigenous jersey in 2025.

The Roosters, or Eastern Suburbs as they were know when Stumpy and his brother Terry ventured to Sydney in 1973, have put up a poll on the club website, asking fans to vote for the player they would like to see adorning the club’s indigenous jumper next season.

The Roosters have given fans the names of five indigenous players to choose from: Shannon Hegarty, Craig Salvatori, Matt Sing, Andrew Walker and Stevens.

So far Stumpy heads to the poll with 40% of the votes cast, ahead of Walker on 37%.

The brothers came to Eastern Suburbs as a package deal after helping the Rebels to a premiership in 1972 and quickly attracted plenty of attention.

Unfortunately injury cut short Terry’s rise through the ranks, but by 1975 master coach Jack Gibson made Stumpy a key part of his triumphant side.

He was a vital part of the grand final winning team that thrashed St George 38-0.

The club had an outstanding lock forward in Ron Coote and Barry Reilly was no slouch at the back of the scrum either.

But Gibson moved both those champions into the second row to accommodate Stevens.

He featured prominently in the club’s biggest moments in the 1970s, playing lock in the 1975 and 1978 Amco Mid-Season Cup final winning teams, five-eighth in the 1974 Wills Pre-Season Cup final victory, at lock in the 1975 grand final, and at halfback in the World Club Challenge one year later, scoring a try.

Injuries slowed down Stumpy’s career later in the 70s, but in 1981 Gibson, now coaching at Parramatta, stunned the league world by luring Stevens out west, where he played in the second row and was a key player in the Eels breakthrough grand final win that year.

The Stumpy Stevens names lives on at the Rebels with Kevin’s son Grant leading the Rebels this season.

In the 2022 grand final win Grant was named player of the match and he continues to play a leading role for the Rebels with his crunching defence and strong ball carrying.

Go to the Roosters website and have your say on who should be the face on the clubs 2025 indigenous jumper.


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Roosters put Ghosts down pecking order




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Roosters put Ghosts down pecking order


By Tim Howard

The crowd at Grafton Ghosts home ground, Frank McGuren Field were treated to a display of champagne football on Saturday hosting competition favourites the Nambucca Roosters.

Unfortunately for the home crowd most of the champagne was flowing from the Roosters who crushed the Ghosts 62-12.

Nambucca gave the Ghosts a taste of what was to come in the eighth minute when they were hot on attack in the Roosters quarter.

A loose pass fell into the hands of half Logan Jones who found speedy centre Dane Saunders sprinting onto the ball.

He galloped 60 metres to score in the left corner. Fullback and kicker Tyronne Roberts-Davis missed the conversion.

Roberts Davis was in the action again a few minutes later as the Rooster found themselves attacking down the right side in the Ghosts end zone.

Two looping passes back to the left found Roberts-Davis with the ball in centre field.

He punched a grubber kick towards the goal line, which bounced over the fingers of winger Liam Bloomer, but into the arms of Roosters flyer Beau Langford, who touched down about five metres in from touch on the left side of the field.

This time Roberts-Davis was successful with the kick, giving the Roosters a 10-0 lead about 15 minutes in.

From the kick off the Ghosts enjoyed one of their few lucky breaks of the day.

Cooper Woods long kick-off hit the crossbar and bounced into the field of play and Nambucca Jones fumbled his attempt pick up the loose ball.

Bloomer seized on the opportunity and skirted the defence to score in the right corner.

Woods’ kick from the sideline was successful with the Ghosts back in the game at 10-6.

But the advantage was short lived.

From the kick-off they surrendered possession on the first tackle of the set giving Nambucca great field position to work in.

They nearly blew it. Their live-wire lock Jay Melrose was forced to clean up a sloppy pass from dummy half and as he wrestled with the defence, was able to slip a short ball to five-eighth Tyreece Sines.

He dashed across field and was able to reach out and put the ball across the line about 10m in from the right touch line. Roberts-Davis converted for a 16-6 lead.

The Ghosts tried to hit back and were attacking in the Roosters quarter when a short kick for the line bounced up for winger Jack Margetts.

He broke free of a tackle and pass to Jones who showed plenty of pace on a 70m dash to the tryline. The conversion was unsuccessful leaving the scoreline at 20-6.

With 10 minutes remaining in the half, the Roosters were in again, this time attacking down the right side of the field.

Melrose turned up in the outside centre position and passed to substitute Toby Batten.

Confronted by a wall of defenders he flung a long ball infield, which Margetts held onto and raced over to score under the posts. The conversion was successful putting the Roosters ahead 26-6.

The Ghosts showed what they could do from the restart when the Roosters knocked the ball dead in goal from the kick off.

They tried a short restart, but the Ghosts regathered and on the next play attacked on the right side of the field.

Woods showed great sleight of hand to deceive the Roosters defence with a short ball to Jake Martin, who raced over to score near the posts.

Woods’ conversion made it 26-12.

The Ghosts looked attack in the final minutes of the half and with two minute left after a wild scuffle on at the sidelines, Roberts-Davis was sent to the sin bin.

But it was the Roosters who had the final say in the half when centre Rhys Hambly was penalised for a high shot on Jones as the halftime hooter sounded.

Batten knocked over the penalty from close range to make the score 28-12.

The Ghosts came out for the second half a player up with Roberts-Davis in the bin for the opening minutes.

But it made little difference to the play.

The Roosters scored again from depth when Sines made a break on half way, found hooker Jacob Welsh backing up, who fought through a tackle and pass infield to Margetts.

The winger dummied, straightened and forced his way across the line just to the left of the posts.

The winger scored his third try five minutes later, again backing up a Welsh break down the right, which gave him a clear run to the line.

Roberts-Davis returned from the bin, happy to have seen his side score twice during his absence.

The game became a procession for the Roosters in the second half with the Roosters scoring almost every time they entered the Ghosts quarter.

Jones evaded three defenders to score in the corner to make it 44-12.

The Roosters reached 50 with another try to Jones backing up a Margetts break down the right wing.

Roberts-Davis next score showed the Roosters at their attacking best.

Running out of their half Sines placed a delightful short kick into space, which Roberts sprinting through, caught on the full.

He threw a dummy to wrong foot the cover and then sprinted 50m to score under the posts.

Sines finished the scoring with another sweeping move into the right corner. Roberts-Davis converted from the sideline to finish the scoring with a couple of minutes left.

The Ghosts were short handed for this crucial game against the competition favourites.

Rugged prop Oliver Percy was out as was hard tackling second rower Cameron Winters.

It forced captain coach Dylan Collett to move from the centres to second row, where he tackled himself to a standstill.

Yet such was the ad-lib style of the Nambucca team that the Ghosts defence up the middle was relatively sound.

Of the 11 tries they conceded three were length of the field breaks, several more were scored from 50 to 60m out and all were scored by the backs.

The Roosters made a mockery of the conventional wisdom of rucking the ball out of defence. Many times they swung the ball wide early in the tackle count and deep in their half.

On attack they moved the ball from one side of the field to the other, searching for gaps.

The South Grafton Rebels continue to struggle going down 30-26 to Sawtell. Both sides scored five tries, but the goal kicking of Sawtell’s Dean Wearing, who kicked five from five, was the difference in the scores.

On Sunday the Ghosts will host Macksville, looking to avenge their bitter 34-22 round five defeat.

It’s a vital game for the fifth-placed Ghosts who trail Macksville by just one point.

The Rebels are on the road to Nambucca and face a mighty task to topple the front runners on their home turf after losing out to the 46-12 at home on May 19.


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Collett back to try-scoring best




Dylan Collett Grafton Ghost
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Collett back to try-scoring best


By Tim Howard

Grafton Ghosts try scoring wizard Dylan Collett has overturned a 2024 drought in style, touching down four times as his team romped to a 28-10 win over the Coffs Harbour Comets.

The Comets, languishing at the foot of the Group 2 Rugby League table, came to Frank McGuren Field, desperate for a win to open their account for the season.

The first 20 minutes was an arm wrestle as the game swept from end to end, with both teams threatening to score, but unable to cross the line.

The Ghosts finally broke through midway through the half, turning a stirring defensive effort into points.

The Comets were hammering the Ghosts line and were unlucky not to score, with last ditch Ghosts defence holding them up over the line twice in two minutes.

A raking clearing kick from fullback Toby McIntosh turned into a brilliant 40-20, putting the Ghosts on attack inside the Coffs’ quarter.

The ball swung across the field  toward the left edge, where Collett loves to attack.

Just a few metres from the line, he ran onto a short pass from hooker Mason Graham and spun out of a tackle to put the ball down around 10 metres in from touch.

Halfback Cooper Woods converted to make the score 6-0 to the home team.

The Ghosts were in again 10 minutes later courtesy of a bullocking run from big prop Oliver Percy.

Running onto a short ball from lock Jordan Gallagher, Percy turned a routine hit up into points, dragging three defenders with him over the try line.

Woods converted again to give the Ghosts a handy 12-0 lead heading into the break.

But the Comets were able to make a dent in the lead just before half time when they finally were able to capitalise on a couple of Ghosts handling errors that gifted the visitors good field position.

Attacking down the right edge, big centre Marty Ferguson brushed through some ineffectual tackles to score in the right corner.

The second half began in similar fashion to the first, with both sides trying to assert themselves.

The Comets created several close calls close to the Ghosts line but a combination of stiff defence and poor attacking options denied them a chance to narrow the lead.

The scores remained at 12-4 until 15 minutes from time when Collett ran onto a sweetly timed pass from second rower Jake Martin, which put him into the clear.

He swerved inside the fullback and touched down just to the left of the uprights to give Woods the easiest shot at goal, which he converted.

Five minutes later Collett was in again, this time receiving a popped pass on the try line and virtually falling across the line to score.

Woods pushed his conversion to the right of the posts to give a 22-4 scoreline.

Collett showed his value in defence from the restart when Ferguson managed to tap back the short kick off.

The Ghosts skipper was the only player to show any urgency to dive on the bouncing ball.

The final minutes of the game became a free-for-all as Coffs swept the ball downfield and lost possession in the Ghosts quarter.

In turn the Ghosts counter attacked down the right side with McIntosh breaking free. Two passes later Collett ran onto a pass and touched down under the posts. Woods kicked the goal to give the Ghosts a 28-4 lead with two minutes left on the clock.

The Comets were able to score a consolation try with Ferguson picking up his second try just before the siren sounded.

Curry nailed the sideline conversion to make the final score 28-10.

The lopsided score did not do justice to the effort Coffs Harbour made on the day.

They probably had equal field position stats to the Ghosts, but found the Ghosts goal line defence more difficult to break.

The Grafton Ghosts made marginally more chances, but were ruthless in taking them and this accounted for the comfortable scoreline in their favour.

On Saturday the South Grafton Rebels slumped to their fourth loss in five games, going down 26-14 in the grand final replay against Woolgoolga.

The Rebels started brilliantly and were leading the Seahorses 10-0 until they allowed Woolgoolga fullback Dane O’Hehir to score just before half time.

Big centre Shayde Perham scored early in the second half to level the scores at 10-10.

From there it was all Woolgoolga as half Tyler Murden, then Perham and O’Hehir scored tries, which Murden converted.

Rebels centre Nick McGrady’s try in the 62nd minute was the only Rebels score in the second half.

Next Sunday the Grafton Ghosts take on Woolgoolga at Solitary Islands Sports Ground Field 1 and the Rebels have the bye.


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