When discussing the best of the best for the Tumut Bulls in the past 20 years, there is certainly one common theme, and that was the immense impact of Paul Roche.
In a question posed to a variety Tumut Bulls stalwarts, players and commentators, the hard working and naturally gifted number eight was picked in every team of the past 20 years, and on all occasions, he was regarded as the best player to pull on a Bulls jersey in those two decades.
Matt Hardwick described Roche as the “ultimate package,” while Will Reynolds agreed and said, “the standout player has to be Paul Roche, his record speaks for itself; the best player I have ever played with hands down.”
Current Bulls president Jon Carmody also chimed in on Roche’s ability, suggesting he was was the best player to ever set foot in the Southern Inland Rugby Union competition.
“Paul Roche has probably been one of the best players to ever play in this competition,” Carmody said.
“Along with his size and strength, he had a great rugby mind, along with great timing; he always led by example.”
Still it was Mat Chapman’s commentary on Roche that probably described him most accurately, even touching on his debut game for the Bulls.
“Paul Roche was the best rugby player I was lucky enough to play with. (He) had everything you could want in a skillset,” Chapman said.
“I remember the first game he played for us and he was just a kid. He was like Richie McCaw when he first arrived in the comp, at times too quick for even a referee to think he could be stealing a ball legally.”
Outside of Roche, there were other playsers that frequented the Bulls best XV sides of the past 20 years, with players like Mick Roche, Will Reynolds, Mat Chapman, Jock Mason, Tim Graham, Andy Graham, Andrew Jamieson and Josef Glamuzina mentioned in most sides.
Some of the judges involved found that selecting a first XV was very hard and a variety of honourable mentions were added to teams submitted.
Those who just missed out on making Jon Carmody’s best XV included; Mat Chapman, TJ Sala, Will Reynolds, the Luffs, Terry Baker and Justin Shortis.
Mat Chapman originally submitted a best 22, with the likes of Joe Ione, Dan Dowson, Scott Thornton, Jon Carmody, TJ Sala, Brandt Preston and Tim Swan making the cut.
Chapman, who is the epitome of a Bull and everything the club stands for, also highlighted some of his favourite players to play with, and coach in the past 20 years.
“Three blokes I loved playing with were both Lachy and John Roche and Matt Webb. They were the sort of fellas that if you needed someone to fire you up, you only had to look in their eyes and you knew it was on,” Chapman said.
“As a coach, Coen Potter was the best. Always listening, and as a young player, he worked so hard on his game.
“We would have a bag full of trophies if we had squads with Pott’s training ethics as a young player.
“Nace Dean and Chris “Skinny Burn” Williams were also crowd favourites in the Bullpit of the mid 2000s.”
When quizzed on the best moments in the past 20 years, answers started to vary, with achievements both on and off the fields recounted with pride and passion.
Matt Hardwick was pleased to see more teams added to the Bulls family, and was proud of the reintroduction of the Bullettes.
“(The) best thing to happen in the last 20 years (was the) introduction of third grade to the club and reintroduction of women’s rugby to the Tumut Bulls,” Hardwick said.
For Chris Carmody, a long time president of the Bulls, being able to raise a huge amount of money for a good cause remains firmly in his memory.
“(My) proudest day was the Little Heroes charity day (on the) July 9, 2016, the Bulls and Tumut Community raised $80,000 for charities,” Carmody said.
The 2006 grand final defeat at the hands Cootamundra, which still haunts some players to this day, is one highlight that big Jon Carmody will cherish.
“The 2006 grand final, it was so close against a team that was undefeated for the season,” Carmody said.
“It’ was great to be a part of with some great people.”
Will Reynolds is another one that will never forget that 2006 season and funnily enough, his standout moment in the past 20 years was in the semi final to make the grand final, describing one play that summed up the game.
“My highlight over the years has to be when Nathan Jeffery (prop), threw a 20 meter cut-out pass for Terry Baker to score in the major semi in 2006 to make it through to the grand final, big Jon Carmody had a roll in the play as well,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also touched on the mateship involved in the club and what being a member of the Bulls meant to him.
“Other major highlights (was the) grand final in 06 against Coota, endless bus trips, end of year footy trip to Bali, weekends away at Wee Jasper, the day Chris Carmody let the guys in Grenfell know what he was thinking and the heaps of mates and contacts I’ve made through football,” Reynolds said.
In a comment that is probably a true testament to the Bulls of the past 20 years, The Times editor and former Bull, Luke Watson, remarked on the club’s turnaround from cellar dwellers to serial SIRU finalists.
“Observing the Bulls transform from the doldrums of the 1990s and turn of the century, when for years they were the whipping boys of the competition, into a sustained force on the field for the last 15 or so years has been the highlight in my eyes,” he said.
“That on field success has been backed by a committee and volunteer group that is the envy of clubs of any code around the region.”
Matt Hardwick’s best XV: 1. Peter Crowe, 2. Gus Forster, 3. Tim Graham, 4. Will Luff, 5. Will Reynolds, 6. Menzies Seumanutafa, 7. Joey Carmody, 8. Paul Roche, 9. Andy Graham, 10. Chris Bolton, 11. Mitch Ivill, 12. Tara Arnall, 13. Dai Hooper, 14. Terry Baker, 15. Josef Glamuzina. Standout player: Paul Roche.
Chris Carmody’s best XV: 1. Mat Chapman, 2. Tim Graham, 3. Mick Shippey, 4. Grant Prior, 5. Will Reynolds, 6. John Roche, 7. Joe Carmody, 8. Paul Roche, 9. Jock Mason, 10. Andrew Jamieson, 11. Justin Shortis, 12. Tino Manuelvao, 13. James Graham, 14. Chris Williams, 15. Jock Graham. Standout player: Paul Roche.
Will Reynolds’ best XV: 1. Mick Roche, 2. Tim Graham, 3. Will Kingwill, 4. John Roche 5. Jon Carmody, 6. Jock Mason, 7. Tom O’Rourke, 8. Paul Roche, 9. Adrian Pearce, 10. Luke Watson, 11. Terry Baker, 12. Brandt Preston, 13. Joe Reynolds, 14. Mitch Ivill, 15. Andrew Jamieson. Standout player: Paul Roche.
Jon Carmody’s best XV: 1. Tim Graham 2. Jock Mason, 3. Mick Roche, 4. Will Onus, 5. Scott Thornton, 6. Tom O’Rourke, 7. Joe Carmody, 8. Paul Roche, 9. Andrew Graham, 10. Andrew Jamieson 11. Chris Williams, 12. Tino Manuolevo, 13. Tara Arnall, 14. Mitch Ivill, 15. Josef Glamuzima. Standout Player: Paul Roche.
Mat Chapman’s best XV: 1. Mick Roche, 2. Jock Mason, 3. Tim Graham, 4. Will Reynolds, 5. Grant Prior, 6. Will Onus, 7. Tom O’Rourke, 8. Paul Roche, 9. Andrew Graham, 10. Andrew Jamieson, 11. Mitch Ivill, 12. Tino Manulaveo, 13. Luke Watson, 14. George Molineaux, 15. Josef Glamuzina. Standout player: Paul Roche.
Tumut and Adelong Times best XV: 1. Mat Chapman, 2. Tim Graham, 3. Joe Ioane, 4. Dan Dowson, 5. Will Reynolds, 6. Menzies Seumanutafa, 7. Jock Mason, 8. Paul Roche, 9. Andy Graham, 10. Andy Jamieson, 11. Jock Graham, 12. Joe Reynolds, 13. Brandt Preston, 14. Mitch Ivill, 15. Josef Glamuzina. Standout player: Paul Roche