By Lawrence Machado
A top-flight rugby union facility has been approved for Fred Caterson Reserve Castle Hill, occupying the space where the Hills District Pony Club was based.
Fred Caterson Reserve, off Gilbert Rd Castle Hill already features six playing fields catering for football (soccer), cricket and baseball, an indoor Recreation Centre featuring six basketball courts;a tennis complex with 10 tennis courts;a BMX track capable of hosting state and national events;off-road Radio Control Car Club.
The newly approved Masterplan will see two more tennis courts, plus four hotshot courts and improved club house plus upgrades to fields, car parking and spectator facilities.
The jewel in the crown will be a new rugby stadium which will be home to the powerhouse Eastwood Rugby Union club
Rugby union is entering an exciting new era in The Hills with Sydney powerhouse Eastwood District RUFC moving to an upgraded Fred Caterson Reserve.
The decision, approved by The Hills Shire Council, has been welcomed by Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW bosses.
There will be one synthetic all-weather pitch and broadcast quality floodlights, with matches likely to be played from 2022.
Eastwood chairman Rob Cusack said he is delighted with the new complex at Castle Hill, despite the club’s proud history at TG Millner ground at Marsfield.
“We have great respect for our past but it is important we look to the future,” Cusack told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News. “If we don’t provide for the future, we won’t have one. A majority of the members and players are in the Hills and it is a great opportunity for the club. It is a natural fit for us and it also fits in with NSW Rugby’s strategic plans. We commend the council for sharing and endorsing our vision for the new centre.”
NSW Rugby CEO Paul Doorn said this was an exciting development for rugby in the Hills.
“This is fantastic news for Eastwood Rugby, for North West Sydney and of course for our game,” Rugby Australia interim Chief Executive Rob Clarke said. “The Woods have a long proud history and over the years, they have become an icon of Sydney club rugby.”
Hills Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne said council is delighted with the opportunities the Eastwood Club’s proposal presents for elite level rugby in the shire.
“We are at the beginning of a process that will see the upgrade of this facility brought forward, which is great news for the local sporting community.”.
Work on the rugby complex is due to start in 2021 – it will feature three full-sized playing fields, a grandstand and terrace seating. The rugby facilities will supplement the other sports at the reserve, including baseball, basketball, BMX, cricket, soccer, tennis and a remote control car track.
Cusack said the new facility could hold trial games for the NSW Waratahs, Shute Shield games, sevens tournaments, representative games and schools and junior matches.
He is hoping to get NSW Government support for the development, Cusack, who played rugby for the Woods for many years, said rugby is used to competing with other codes and they can all co-exist.
“We have a good relationship with Parramatta Eels,” Cusack said. We spoke to them their experiences in moving their training base to Kellyville and how they went through the process. When the centre is completed, Eastwood’s playing grounds and match-day facilities will be among the best in Sydney rugby.”
Eastwood has four grade teams and three colts.