Phil Braban and Patrick Ritchie
The Pride and the Passion
Catching up with Phil Braban and Patrick Ritchie
In recent editions of Brave and Game, we’ve looked at the adventures of premiership winning Terrace teams who have donned the red and black and written their names in history. The fact is, everyone who plays the game, everyone who pulls on a Terrace jersey has a story to tell.
B & G: Phil and Pat thanks for talking with us. Let’s start by looking at how you got into rugby union.
Phil: I’d played rugby league in Sydney since I was three. I played Under 6’s league for about 4 years. I didn’t start playing rugby until I was 12 years old when I moved to Brisbane and started playing union at Terrace.
B & G: And you had two older brothers at Terrace?
Phil: Yes, Nick and Tim. Nick started at Terrace in grade 9 when we came up from Sydney and finished in 2001 and Tim finished in 2004. They both played rugby Second XV in open year.
B & G: And Pat, what about you, how did you begin?
Patrick: I just started playing rugby at my local club in Under 7’s from about 5 to 7, up to Under 9’s at Logan City Rugby Club. I played there for a few years and then came to Terrace in year 5.
B & G: You had family who played union at Terrace?
Patrick: Yes. Mark, my oldest brother, played two years in First XV and was best forward in a 1994 and Al was also pretty good. He was in the A’s for a fair few years but was unlucky not to make the First XV.
B & G: And both of you made the Firsts at 16, is that right?
Phil: Yes. Since I got to Terrace I wanted to play two years in the Firsts. Probably make the transition from year 11, you get to know everything in the Firsts and then in year 12 really have a go at it and try to do something special.
B & G: Was that tough - the transition from the 15A’s to the Firsts?
Patrick: Playing Under 15 front row - you don’t really have to be that big to do well, if your technique is good enough. Then going to First XV level I really had to work on my technique because I wasn’t that big and it took me a little while to learn how it worked. I had to work really hard on the technique because I struggled. I didn’t have the size then. Towards the end of the season I found my niche and I had a few good games in the Firsts.
Phil: It hard to make the progression from Under 15’s to First in grade 11 because
Under 13, 14, 15, generally the people that do play in First teams are players that stand out and would do the big things. But when you got to Firsts in grade 11 it’s a bit of a culture shock.
B & G: Then both of you had a very successful season in 2005. and you both were rewarded with Queensland selection
Patrick: Yes, we both played in Under 16 in Sydney.
B & G: Coming into 2006, you must have been looking forward to a great Rugby season?
Patrick: We were geared up for the rugby. We were really looking forward to the rugby and got straight into it. Had a good camp down at Runaway Bay. We were looking red hot and we’d come into the first game against Ipswich. We’d been thumped by them a couple of weeks prior and we were pretty determined. We came out, had a rough game, it was really tough and were unlucky going down [20-25].
B & G: What were the season’s most memorable moments?
Phil: The Churchie game was probably one of the big highlights for the Terrace season. It wasn’t our first win of the season but It was our biggest. Churchie was a fairly favoured team. They had a few representative players.
We were down 10-0 at half time, but we came back and won 12-10. That felt pretty good to us, especially after the disappointment earlier in the year losing to Nudgee by a point and it was good to get that win at the end of the year to finish up the season.
B & G: And then both of you were rewarded with a place in Queensland Schoolboys Two? What was that like?
Patrick: It was definitely a good experience to play at that level, at that speed. The size of the players, they are a lot stronger and faster. It was good experience. We were the under dogs the whole tournament. and it was a highlight of the season to beat New South Wales One.
Phil: All we heard leading up is how much they were going to smash us. But we got ourselves up for the game. We came from nowhere, got pumped up. A few big speeches at the start and really came out. Played the game. Won it by a try. It was big thing.
B & G: What was the final score in that one?
Patrick: 20 – 17. They were up 17-13 or 15 and we scored last play of the game.
B & G: And Queensland Two actually won that tournament. Were there many chosen in the Australian squad from that group, or were you the exception?
Patrick: They picked two Australian teams. The Australian Schoolboys and Australia A.
I was originally chosen in Australian A. Phil and I felt pretty happy being on the same team together, so we went down for a few training sessions in Sydney.
We were settling into that team and then I was at the sports carnival at Terrace;
track and field. My phone kept going off all day but I couldn’t answer it because
I was running around organizing things.
I finally got to it and it was my mum calling me to say the coach of the Australian Schoolboys had been calling and he wants you to go down tomorrow for a training session, because some bloke has been injured and they want you up. I was pretty stoked about that. I had to leave Phil by himself and go down for a bit of a camp.
B & G: Now Pat, you’re not a small guy, but you don’t fit the typical bill for a prop.Playing in that Australian Schoolboys front row, was that a bit intimidating?
Patrick: I had to get over that through the tournament because there were some enormous front rows, in NSW One in particular. That was probably the biggest front row I had packed down against. They had a front row over 350 kg. But I had excellent training throughout the year from Conor Finn, he was an excellent scrum coach and he never let up on us. He demanded perfection. When I got to the Australian coaches, they were excellent technique wise, I could transfer Conor Finn intensity into that arena.
Phil: The Australian coaches loved Pat. Whenever they did drills, they would get Pat up to show the perfect technique. All the other big props wouldn’t know what was going on.
B & G: Did you play for the Australian Schoolboy team in those games within Australia?
Patrick: Yes. I played one game against Tonga and that was good experience. They weren’t really a skill based side. They were just a rough, big, physical side which was good because we put into practice the skills that we learnt. We rolled them pretty good. I can’t remember the actual score, about 65 to 0.
B & G: Phil, what were your Australian A games like?
Phil: I played Tonga as well, down in Canberra. We beat them 30 / 35-5 or something like that. You were playing with people who knew what they were doing and you didn’t get frustrated with anything because everything came off.
Playing against another country, first putting on that jersey, the Australian jersey which I have at home. The first time you put it on it’s one of those tight ones and you look at yourself in it and think, oh my god ...
Patrick: It’s like the first time you wear the First XV jersey.
Phil: I remember when I put on the First XV jersey I grew about a foot and put on about 10 kilos. It was the same thing with the Australian jersey. It gives you so much confidence.
B & G: Thinking back about your Rugby experiences to date, which one had the most emotion? Which one really tugged at the heart strings?
Phil: You’d definitely say the Terrace / Nudgee match for sure. When you play at Terrace it’s the game that you wait for. It’s all you hear about when you’re playing rugby. My favourite part of playing rugby at Terrace was running out of the tunnel at Terrace. It’s special. You get pretty emotional. You want to go out and do something special. You know how it is.
B & G: And you Pat?
Patrick: Same as Phil. The Terrace / Nudgee game. That’s what I’d waited for since I was about 5 years old. I used to watch my brothers play. Back in those days they used to just get slaughtered by about 50 points, back in the 90’s. I used to think about that. All through Terrace waiting for First XV. Also one of the highlights I will treasure is playing Churchie, beating Churchie.
B & G: Terrace v. Nudgee is bigger than playing for Australia?
Patrick: In anything you look back at, it’s always the Terrace Nudgee rugby match, that’s the biggest thing. It’s massive. That’s something you want to do. An Australian jersey is a dream.
B & G: What are you guys doing now? You’re both playing rugby still?
Phil: We’re both playing Colts 1 at Easts. There are a few Terrace boys there.
B & G: Finally, to Terrace teams in 2007, about to run out onto the field what would you say to them?
Phil: Try and live the moment. I used to love waking up on a Saturday, in the morning because I knew I had a rugby game that day. Running out, playing, doing my stuff. Enjoy yourself.
Because it all goes by in a heart beat. I look back at grade 8 and you’d hear people say, it will be over in 10 minutes. You’ll be there and then you’re gone. It’s true. Like in grade 8 I thought I had 5 years. You think you could relax but you have to live for the moment. Do everything you can. Just give it a good go.
Patrick: Schoolboy rugby is so special because you do it with your mates.
It’s not the same at representative level. It’s not the same at any other club level because you go to school with your mates and you go to the game with your mates, and you win and lose with your mates. That’s why it’s so special because you all experience the same thing. If you don’t support each other then you fail and if you support each other you have the time of your life. That’s what I’ve had.
Phil: Schoolboy rugby is the best rugby you can play. Soak it all in and don’t have any regrets because that’s the worst thing to have, a regret after playing a rugby match. If you lose a Terrace rugby match and you regret something then it’s going to stay with you for ever. So you just have to go out there and do everything you can.
B & G: Phil and Pat, congratulations on all your achievements in the game to date, thanks for talking to us and good luck for the future .
16 Games – Terrace First XV (2005 & 2006)
Queensland II Schoolboys (2006)
Australia Schoolboys (2006)
Terrace Player No. 1182
16 Games – Terrace First XV (2005 & 2006)
Queensland II Schoolboys (2006)
Australia Schoolboys (2006)
Terrace Player No. 1193