A photo of the London Charger's Rugby League squad after a match.

London Chargers form historic partnership with Australian Rugby League club

London Chargers, one of London’s biggest amateur Rugby League clubs, has announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Australian Rugby League side, Tathra Sea Eagles.

The partnership will afford players from both clubs the opportunity to live, work and play the sport in the other country for years to come. Both clubs will also provide help with finding jobs and housing for players making the move overseas.

Tathra – a small town of just 1,500 – is located down Australia’s south coast and has a rich Rugby League history, with the club formed back in 1926.

The Sea Eagles compete in Group 16, the amateur league which covers the south coast of New South Wales and most recently won the title in 2019 – their first time in 66 years.

While the partnership came to fruition following a Christmas day message from the Australian club, for Chargers an overseas partnership was a long-term goal, with Tathra the ideal candidate for several reasons.

Club secretary Todd Peut said: “We have been looking at partnering up with an Australian club for the last 6 months so when Tathra got in touch the timing was perfect.

“For us, they share the same family values as us – the club look after one another and their players. Rugby League comes second but it’s all about the community and the people first. We really like that as we’re very similar. 

“We liked the fact that they were a small country town and someone who is going to value the partnership. We didn’t want to find a city team in Brisbane or Sydney mainly because we might not have got the same reciprocation with that.

“The partnership would also get some quality Aussie players over to teach some of our less experienced guys which would be amazing given we’re not in the sport’s heartland.”

For the Sea Eagles, the move will see English players represent their club for the first time in their 97-year history, something that greatly excites club president, Scott Meaker.

He said: “We can’t wait to host the English lads here in Australia, we will get to show what Australia is all about and showcase their talent to the competition.

“Partnering up with an English club will do wonders not just for the club but the whole community of Tathra and puts our little community on the map.”

Club secretary Matthew Hughes went further: “This is one of the greatest moves we’ve ever done as a club,” he said. 

“The whole town is talking about it – It’s elevated the club and everyone is excited to see our small town being profiled and talked about in London.

“Tathra is known for its lovely beaches and its community and that is what we are selling – it’s Australia at its finest and an opportunity to not just experience Sydney or Canberra or Melbourne but to experience what Australia truly is,” he added.

Tathra Sea Eagles ahead of last year’s Grand Final. Image credit: Declan Scott

While the partnership will come too soon for this year’s seasons, which start this month, there is already plenty of interest from London Chargers’ younger players to make the most of the agreement next year.

And Peut, who grew up in the small Australian town of Goondiwindi before emigrating to the UK in 2016, is confident players will enjoy the environment afforded to them in the small Australian town communities.

“Rugby League meant everything to my community growing up,” he said. 

“When I was there, guys would be waiting until Saturday just to go watch and play footie and interact with their mates. 

“The whole town revolves around sport and those little communities within the bigger community so when Tathra got in touch it resonated because I understood it.”

For Peut, who describes joining Chargers as “one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” the partnership is about more than just the on-field action but about growing the game he loves.

He added: “What brought us together is that common love for Rugby League – we both love the game and want it to succeed across both sides of the world. 

“League has its faults but I find the people involved with the sport at the grassroots level really do care about each other.

“That has always been our aim at the Chargers- we’re doing it for the love of the sport and to make sure it continues to thrive in years to come.”

At Tarfra, Hughes shares a similar sentiment and hopes the experience will provide his friends and teammates with lifelong memories. 

He finished: “I think Covid-19 played a big part in how everyone saw the world. Now travel is opening back up, it allows people to look forward to things and this partnership does exactly that. 

“It has created some buzz and atmosphere and it’s got people motivated again to play sports, travel and experience the world. 

“People will want to be part of that – to meet new people, new places and create new memories – and that is a beautiful thing that this sport and this partnership has afforded us.”

To read more about the partnership and London Chargers click here.

Featured image credit: London Chargers

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