STILL GOT IT: Former Wallabies player, Lote Tuqiri makes a break against the Downs side in Toowoomba on Sunday.
STILL GOT IT: Former Wallabies player, Lote Tuqiri makes a break against the Downs side in Toowoomba on Sunday. Contributed

The west play union's best

RUGBY UNION: More used to strapping on the boots to face the might of teams such as the All Blacks and Springboks, the Classic Wallabies over-35 team prepared for a very different challenge on Sunday.

In their way would be an all-star Downs Rugby Barbarians squad featuring some of the most accomplished country rugby players from across the region, including four Echidnas players, Matt Edwards, Justin Garvie, Matt Howse and Mark Brownlie.

Held at Gold Park Toowoomba, the one-off match was used to promote grass-roots rugby union in the bush, which is struggling in some regions - including the Maranoa.

Matt Edwards, vice-captain of the Downs team, said the match was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many in the side.

"We all have had plenty of experience, which was great,” he said.

"I've played with a lot of those guys before so it was awesome to get that side back together but importantly everyone just enjoyed the day.”

"The contact wasn't full-on but let's just say there were a few sore boys after the weekend.”

Edwards said that age had not wearied the Classic Wallabies team, with big names such as Radike Samo, Stephen Hoiles and Nathan Sharpe showing their class to help win the match 58-19.

"Their muscle memory and ball skills - they've all still got it,” he said. "You don't reach the level that they did and then just lose that ability as you get older.”

Played in front of just under 3000 spectators, the game was a glowing endorsement for rugby in the region with proceeds shared between Downs Rugby and the Australian Rugby Union.


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