The St George Illawarra Dragons have strengthened their ties with the Country Rugby League following the club's donation of 18 eskies to the Group 7 competition.
In collaboration with key Dragons sponsor Carlton and United Breweries, the 18 eskies will be distributed among the 16 Group 7 clubs in hope of raising much-needed funds for grass roots rugby league in the area.
This is another positive step in the relationship between the Dragons and the CRL following the formalisation of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties in December last year.
Pictured above (left to right): Dragons Sponsorship and Digital Commercialisation Manager Ben Thompson, Carlton and United Breweries’ Graeme Wynn, Group 7 President Roy Mills and St George Illawarra board member Craig Young.
"The plan is for the eskies to be raffled off at local home games and local derbies where we get fairly good crowds," Group 7 president Roy Mills said.
We've done something similar down at Batemans Bay a couple of seasons ago – we put a bit of booze inside – and we were able to raffle it off for $1000.
"We're hoping this will be able to supply finances to grass root clubs who are currently struggling as it usually takes $130,000 to $140,000 to run a football club these days."
Mills was overall appreciative of the Dragons' support of the Group 7 competition.
"Apart from the monetary support we get from the Dragons, which is a significant amount, it helps us maintain our costs and help lower the clubs' cost too," he said.
"The more help we get helps the sponsorship we can attract which overall helps us run the Group 7 competition."
Another key component of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Dragons and CRL was the introduction of the Illawarra South Coast Dragons at the 2018 Country Championships.
With Country Championship players and coaching staff receiving additional support from the Dragons from a coaching and performance perspective, the Illawarra South Coast Dragons performed admirably.
The Under-16s team in particular qualified for the final of the Andrew Johns Cup, only to fall to the Western Rams.
"The CRL Southern Dragons performed really well recently and that has been helped along by some of the Dragons coming along to our junior training sessions," Mills said.
"The sort of influence the Dragons have had on the young blokes today, to see some of them come to training and give them a few pointers, is all really good stuff."