One of the country’s biggest junior rugby league carnivals – the annual Laurie Spina Shield – has hit Townsville again, and will for the sixth straight year feature a capacity 64 teams.
Hosted by the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys and proudly supported by Fantastic Furniture, the two-day under-11 carnival will include teams representing much of Queensland as well as interstate entries.
Competition games will be held on Friday and Saturday, with the final to be played as one of two curtain-raisers to the NRL Cowboys v Panthers match at 1300SMILES Stadium.
“We’ve got teams coming from many areas in regional Queensland, plus teams from the south-east corner, and one from the Northern Territory,” said Cowboys game development manager Liam Bartlett.
“The Cowboys are unique in that their footprint is geographically the largest of any club in the NRL, and this carnival reflects and continues that culture of communities coming together.”
Aside from attracting a number of teams from North Queensland – including the Burdekin, Hinchinbrook, Charters Towers, Mackay and Cairns regions, plus west out to Mount Isa – the carnival will also welcome teams from central Queensland, and entries from Weipa and South Australia.
“This carnival is the biggest junior league event we run and we’re excited that it continues to grow in terms of reach and attracting new teams,” Bartlett said.
The 64 teams will be divided into eight pools of eight teams, and each side will play six pool games before crossover finals matches, culminating in the final on Saturday at 12.05pm.
Named after inaugural Cowboys captain Laurie Spina, the Shield is one of the largest single-age rugby league carnivals in the country, with almost 1,000 boys and girls competing.
Another favourite of the weekend will be the Fastest Feet relay, where eight players from each team will compete in a relay race across the 1300SMILES Stadium field at half-time of the Cowboys-Panthers match.
“It’s a wonderful spectacle to see more than 500 kids completely swarm the field; the colours of all the club jerseys is just outstanding,” Bartlett said.
What: 2017 Laurie Spina Shield
When: Friday 23 June – Saturday 24 June
• Competition games: Townsville Brothers rugby league grounds, Kirwan
• Final: 12.05pm Saturday, 1300SMILES Stadium