Two Tiger lads play in prestigious Challenge Cup

Dane O’Hehir, pictured, played alongside fellow Gundagai local, Ryan Jones, in round one of the Challenge Cup in England on the weekend.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Saturday afternoon in England, two Gundagai lads had the opportunity to play in a rugby league fixture that has its roots in the late 1800’s.
In the U.K. for a working-holiday, and having signed up for the Hammersmith Hills Hoists, an amateur rugby league outfit created by Australian ex-patriots’ in East London, Dane O’Hehir and Ryan Jones found themselves in the run-on side for a round one clash that is held in the highest regards amongst English rugby league players.
The Challenge Cup is the world’s oldest and most prestigious Rugby League knockout competition, and is played throughout England annually.
It was first held in 1896 after rugby union authorities refused to sanction a proposed nation-wide knockout in 1895, due to a fear of it leading to professionalism.
As a result the Northern Rugby Football Union (Rugby League) broke away from England’s established Rugby Football Union to administer its own separate competition.
Later, similar events unfolded in Australia and New Zealand in the early twentieth century, which led to rugby league developing, as we know it today.
If you had told Dane O’Hehir and Ryan Jones last winter that they would be running onto a cold and windswept field in Bradford, England for a side called the Hammersmith Hills Hoists for a round one Challenge Cup fixture, they may have given a polite smile and then changed the conversation.
As it was, O’Hehir at centre, and Jones at five-eighth, took the field against West-Bowling, a suburb of the Yorkshire city of Bradford, sporting the green and gold of their homeland.
O’Hehir made a habit of scoring tries for the Gundagai Tigers, and he did the same for Hammersmith scoring twice in the first half against West Bowling.
Despite his efforts, the East London side trailed 12-8 at half time, and then second half mistakes worsened the situation to see them go down 42-12 at full time.
The Tigers flirtation with English rugby league greatness had ended, but regardless of the outcome, the match will become part of folklore, being re-told in many variations when they meet with mates back in Australia.