New name, new game, same important cause.

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Over the past 7 years, the annual Hunter Valley Mining Charity Rugby League Day has raised more than $500,000 for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. Now it’s time for a new ‘battle of the miners’, the A-Plus Contracting Hunter Valley Mining OzTag Challenge.

The new look event will continue the tradition of previous years, bringing the mining community together and swapping work boots for footy boots to compete for the ‘battle of supremacy’ and be crowned champions.

The new format will provide more game time than ever before. Teams of 12 will compete in a minimum of 5 games across 4 dedicated fields. And for the first time ever there will be three divisions – men’s, women’s and mixed.

Whilst the on-field competition will be a key focus, the serious business of the day is to raise funds for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, ensuring that the rescue helicopters are ready to respond 24-7.

Danny Eather, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service Regional Partnerships Officer, said that their vision has always been about having an event that unites the mining communities of the Hunter Valley, Central West & North West through the passion of sport and that has not changed.

“With the introduction of the OzTag format competition we feel that this will strengthen the inclusiveness of the event and encourage even more people to participate,” said Danny.

“For the past several years, despite all precautions, we have seen injuries occur due to the high impact nature of Rugby League. After last year’s event we conducted an internal review and risk assessment and we determined that continuing ahead with a Rugby League competition was not possible.

“The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service’s role within the community is to help and care for sick and injured people. So, continuing to host the event in the existing format simply contradicts our purpose of existence.”

Danny said that why he was sure there would be a few disappointed rugby fans he was confident that the new format would win them over. With the competition run in partnership with Maitland OzTag Association and a few world champion OzTag players already putting their hands up to play, the competition would be as entertaining and dynamic as ever before.

“We can appreciate that this change will disappoint some, however it was made with the greatest respect for participants welfare in mind. We believe that this modification does not impact the nature of the ‘miner vs miner’ bragging rights concept. If anything, we see that this will provide the opportunity for increased inclusivity and growth. Ultimately, the event is a fun way for our community to support the lifesaving work of the Westpac Rescue Helicopters and we are looking forward to an exciting and successful competition.”

The A-Plus Contracting Hunter Valley Mining OzTag Challenge will be held on Saturday March 2, 2024 To register and for more information call Danny Eather 0439072077 or email

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