Schools grudge match to outshine Wallabies
THE biggest rugby match in Australia this weekend might be the Wallabies clash with Argentina, but don't bother telling that to anyone in southwest Queensland.
Thousands are expected to descend upon Toowoomba Grammar School on Saturday for the school's legendary grudge match with cross-town rivals Downlands College.
The schools have played each other on Toowoomba Grammar's GPS competition bye round each year since 1950, with Downlands College leading the rivalry 35 wins to 31.
The bragging rights are all Toowoomba's at the moment because their First XV are enjoying the rivalry's longest winning streak, five in a row.
Wallabies legend Tim Horan remembers fondly his time in the blue and red of Downlands College, taking the fight to Toowoomba Grammar in front of thousands.
"I wouldn't say Toowoomba's CBD ever really shuts down but it pretty much does on that Saturday afternoon" the World Cup-winner said.
"The rivalry is engrained in you from the moment you start at either school and even though you were playing big matches either side, all you could focus on was the date: When were you playing Downlands vs Toowoomba Grammar?
"The rivalry isn't just the 30 players on the field, it's between the Old Boys who then have their kids at the school who will be talking all through the year, ringing each other on their tractors talking about 'are you coming up for Grammar v Downlands Day?'
"Rugby brings people together but this game is quite unique how it's had so much tradition for such a long time and brings the best out of everyone, not only the players on the field."
Downlands College's rugby program competes in no-mans-land because their position as bye-week opposition means they can never raise the GPS trophy.
The closest to glory Downlands can come is by toppling rivals Toowoomba Grammar in the O'Callaghan Cup derby.
The schools have tied on three occasions, most memorably in 1987 when Horan, Garrick Morgan, Peter Ryan and Brett Johnson took the field for Downlands against Jason Little's Grammar side.
"We drew in our year, 6-all, in fog so thick you could hardly see," Horan said.
"At the end of the game Grammar were on the attack about 40 metres out and I came across and tackled their winger (high).
"I got penalised with about 90 seconds left in the match and Toowoomba Grammar took the kick for goal.
"It was virtually going straight over the black dot when the fog must have picked it up and it's dropped a metre before the cross bar.
"I kicked it out and the referee blew full-time, but I remember looking over at Jason Little as I caught it and he just looked at me, shook his head and laughed."
Toowoomba Grammar will host Downlands in the 69th annual O'Callaghan Cup on Saturday at 2:30pm.
TOOWOOMBA GRAMMAR SCHOOL VS DOWNLANDS COLLEGE TEAMS (15-1)
TGS: Dayne Shadlow, Allister Cameron, Will Purcell, Jacob Gross, Kai Rahui, Baxter Franey, Wilson Cochrane, Seaton Siegfried, Dougal Gray (C), George Wunsch, Hamish Muller, Cooper Bridgeman, Tim Fainga'Anuku, Will Jauncey, Dominic Mifsud
DC: Mac Grealy (C), George Ryan, Darcy Reed, Zalyrius Patelesio-Faamusuli, Jasper Curran, Michael van Rooyen, Kai Duggan, Willem Pienaar, Joey Norton, Fletcher Tonkin, Jed Campbell, Mick Ryan, Matt Zeidler, Josh Collins (VC), Tom McCosker