There aren’t many more likeable characters in the Tumut Bulls Rugby Union club than James Murray.
The hardworking forward isn’t one for stealing the headlines for his on-field play, but with his unparalleled worth ethic on the paddock, only matched by his friendly demeanour and club-first attitude off the paddock, it is no wonder he was chosen to be the Club Captain in 2022.
The 25-year-old felt privileged to be given a chance at the role and he said he would try to live up to the platform set by outgoing Club Captain, Karl Oliver, who is set to return home to Parkes by the end of the year.
“I was a bit surprised to but I’m looking forward to it,” Murray said.
“After coming to the club a couple of years ago, the Bulls really took me in and made me feel like family and Karl Oliver last year as Club Captain did a really good job and I just want to try and carry on that job and keep taking the club forward.”
The Gundagai product had never played rugby union when he first arrived at the club, having previously played and refereed rugby league with the Tigers before trying his hand at the 15-a-side sport.
“I played for the Tigers through to 18s and had never played rugby, but I had an injury in my last game and thought I’d have a year off from league,” Murray said.
“That’s when the Group 9 referees approached me and asked me to referee league and I did that for five years.”
Murray said refereeing rugby was on his radar too, although he admitted his knowledge of the game needed to improve.
“I’ve always thought about it, but the only thing that sets me back is not knowing all the rules and I probably should do a few refs courses,” he said.
Now a big part of the Bulls, Murray is always one of the first to introduce himself to new players, and he wants to continue building the Red and Blacks into a family friendly club that is welcoming of players from all different backgrounds.
“I would like to keep that whole family feeling going with the club,” he said.
“We want to get people coming down. We want parents to be here, and kids can play on the playground, families can watch rugby and they can just make a day of it,” he said.
“We just try to bring everyone together. We have family days, ladies’ day, multicultural day and all of that.”
The Bulls always have a strong international flavour about them, and with their current squad led by a New Zealand coach, and the side boasting players from England, Fiji and New Zealand, Murray said it was important that his club remained a rugby platform for all cultures and identities.
“We just let anyone play and look past all of that. You just have to look at how many Fijians we have playing,” he said.
“The Fijian boys love being a part of the club and they have stuck around, and it is the same with other players in the club.”
Murray explained that the Bulls were also looking to attract new players from within the region, and he stressed that a knowledge of rugby wasn’t an important prerequisite.
“Definitely come give it a try. I never knew the rules of rugby three years ago, and a couple of boys asked me to come and have a run at the time, and I still haven’t left,” Murray laughed.
“I didn’t want to go back to league and thought I’d try something different, and I still don’t know all the rules, but I’m well and truly enjoying myself.
“I see myself as a Bull from now until I decide different, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Murray is giving locals a chance to keep fit and test the waters with the Bulls too, hosting a preseason training session at Jarrah Oval at 6.30pm each Tuesday night.
For more information on the sessions, readers can visit the Tumut Bulls Facebook page.