Around the Grounds: Paul Peel
NSW Oztag paid a visit to Southwest Oztag last week and had the pleasure of chatting to License holder and Hall of Fame inductee, Paul Peel.
The Picton local has played Oztag since its inception in 1992; his association with the game has since branched into becoming South West Oztag Licensee, alongside wife, Caroline.
Paul started out playing for a local team in the first Liverpool competition and describes his introduction to the game as ‘quite comical’.
“Coming off a double ACL knee reconstruction, I played the first five games in knee calipers… I was like Robo cop,” he laughed.
From that first season, Paul was selected in the Liverpool Men’s Opens side which went on to win the second ever NSW State Cup.
Paul continued to represent Liverpool for an additional five years, before he and Caroline moved to Picton and started a family.
Come 2001, the pair kicked off Picton Oztag, which Paul both played in and went on to represent at State and National level for several years.
As of 2005, Paul and Caroline became the official Licensees of Southwest Oztag and decided to start up competitions in Camden and the Southern Highlands.
Southwest Oztag now run senior competitions at Camden, Mittagong, Oran Park and Picton, as well as junior competitions at Moss Vale and Picton.
“We have over 300 teams at South West Oztag, with Camden seniors probably being our largest competition,” Peel said
Both Paul and Caroline are extremely proud of the growth of their competitions over the years, which are now played across various nights and venues.
“It’s lovely to attend our venues, old and new, and see how our game can branch out and be so consistently enjoyable for everyone,” Peel said.
Paul made extremely clear that South West Oztag would not be where it is without his wife, Caroline and her constant work behind-the-scenes – at both a domestic and representative level.
“I would be nothing without my wife helping me… she is the backbone of the operation,” Peel said.
“Caroline and Prue do a lot of back-end work, when it comes to representative selections, uniforms and tournament paperwork,”
“We both have day jobs, so it can be quite time-consuming, but we love it,” he said
Not only is Paul a valued member of Southwest Oztag, both on and off the field, but he was also an honorable Australian representative for 19 years.
“I was fortunate enough to be selected in Australian sides on 15 occasions, between 1999 up until 2018 where I retired from Australian selection,” Peel said.
In this period, Paul represented the Australian Men’s 30’s, 35’s, and 40’s.
He was inducted into the AO Hall of Fame in 2013, and later recognised for his 15 years of service to the Australian Tagaroos.
“The highlight of my playing career was being named the Australian Tour Captain and Flag bearer for the 2018 World Cup, alongside fellow Hall of Famer, Michele Reaney,” Peel said.
However, when asked of his fondest Oztag memories, and why he loves the game, he did not hesitate in his responses.
“My fondest memory would be playing Oztag with my children at a domestic level and coaching them at State Cup,” Peel said.
“I love the game because it accommodates everybody – all ages and skill levels can play the game and contribute,” he said.
AO wish to commend both Paul and Caroline on their continual service to the game and the growing success of Southwest Oztag.