Junior rugby league players from across the North West laced up in Gunnedah recently for the 28th Coal Miners’ Cup.

This year’s annual school-based tournament at John Longmuir Playing Fields featured about 350 boys and girls across almost a dozen teams.

Schools taking part this year included St Xavier’s Primary School and Gunnedah Public School as well as teams from Boggabri, Narrabri, Carroll, Mullaley, Manilla and Barraba.

St Xavier’s number one team from Gunnedah was named the “most successful” of the day in the non-competitive format.

Tournament co-ordinator Ross Whitaker said the tournament’s original concept was to assist children at small schools through “composite sides” featuring small playing groups from different schools.

“The emphasis is always on the kids having a good day,” Whitaker said.

Special guest was former Penrith Panthers and Newcastle Knights front-rower, Tony Butterfield, who played 233 club games in the late 1980s and 90s.

Butterfield was on hand for the post-event presentation and autograph signings.

Players were also presented with t-shirts, hats and give-aways courtesy of the tournament sponsors.

Such was the event’s success, the Knights club has also committed to returning for future school tournaments in Gunnedah.

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