Cup rivalry stands test of time

The Astley Cup is one of the fiercest sporting rivalries in Australia and celebrated its 100th year in 2023. Madeline Austin reports.

Students with balloons. Students with balloons.
Image: Students from Dubbo College celebrate 100 years of the Astley Cup.

While frosty weather has kept temperatures down across central western NSW, for three schools, a century-long rivalry has been running hot.

Dubbo College, Orange High School and Bathurst High Campus - Denison College battled it out over the past three weeks for the coveted Astley Cup – one of the longest running inter-school sports competitions in Australia.

On Thursday, Orange High School claimed victory in the competition’s hundredth year.

For Dubbo College Senior Campus School Captain Zoe McAneney, the energy from students, teachers and spectators makes the Astley Cup a unique and exciting event.

“The rivalry is massive … everyone just wants to win,” she said.

McAneney competed in both the netball and hockey competitions in this year’s Cup.

“Everyone gets in and has a go, so it’s also a great place to make friends,” she said.

Two teams on a netball court. Two teams on a netball court.
Image: Competition was hot on the netball court at this year's Astley Cup.

Even after 100 years, the rivalry between the schools is strong, but so is the camaraderie, sportsmanship and lifelong friendships formed on and off the field.

“There is such amazing school spirit, where every single person in the school gets behind their team,” Bathurst teacher Tegan Drae said.

Bathurst High recently hosted a youth dinner celebrating the centenary of its athletic club, where many former students reminisced on their days contesting the Astley Cup.

“The competition used to be billeted and the friendships made during that time have lasted lifetimes,” Ms Drae said.

For some, the centenary celebrations are a full circle moment.

“I actually went to Bathurst High myself, so it’s so exciting to witness the kids get to be part of that same Cup rivalry,” Bathurst High sports organiser Sarah Murray said.

For others, it is about more than sport.

“Sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t tell the whole story,” Dubbo College’s sports coordinator Craig May said.

“It's run over multiple generations of people, so it’s got a history like no other sporting competition in Australia.”

Spanning a century that has seen World Wars, global pandemics and significant social change, the Astley Cup remains a staple of the western region’s sporting calendar.

Students cheering on their team. Students cheering on their team.
Image: Orange High students cheering on their school.
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