THE Whitsunday Whales Golden Oldies rugby union team had a whale of a time participating in the 19th World Golden Oldies Rugby Festival in Fukuoka, Japan, earlier this month.
A total of 20 players either living or connected to the Whitsundays travelled to the event with their wives and families to compete against 120 teams from throughout Australia, Russia, USA, England, Sri Lanka, Scotland, Cook Islands, Italy, Ireland, China, New Zealand and Japan. The total number of players and supporters at the event was estimated at about 3000.
There was a roaring reception at the opening ceremony of the week long festival and the parade saw the streets of Fukuoka lined with members of the public supporting the teams parading in front of them.
The Whales played two games against different Japanese teams and one game against a combined Asian team.
Everyone competing in the event was over 35-years-old, with the different ages groups identified by the colour shorts they wore and different rules applying to each age bracket.
Every team played three games, however individual players made the most of the situation and got a few extra games in, donning international guernseys to play for other teams.
Three Americans and four Argentinians proudly wore the Whales guernsey to have a laugh with the team all the way from the Whitsundays. The atmosphere of fun, fraternity and friendship was evident and all players thoroughly enjoyed the competition.
The carnival occurs every two years and brings new and old friends from all over the world together. The Golden Oldies festival lives up to the motto of "let the love of rugby take you places".
The 2014 festival will be held at the seaside destination of Mar Del Plata in Argentina. New members are welcome.