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Tackling Leukaemia scores another win: Boosts Bone Marrow Donor Registry with drive

Joseph Guenzler -

In its second iteration, the Tackling Leukaemia Rugby 10s Competition returned last week, with a mission to foster a supportive community atmosphere while encouraging attendees to register as potential stem cell donors on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Recognising the severe underrepresentation of Pasifika and Indigenous peoples on the registry, Tackling Leukaemia organised these events specifically to address this disparity.

Over the past two years, their efforts have yielded tangible results, contributing to a significant 20 per cent increase in registrations within these communities.

Tackling Leukaemia CEO Kevin Maloney said the day was well organised and well supported by Rugby Victoria and the 21 teams that attended.


On the women's side, Power House RUFC took down Endeavour Hills with a final score of 19-5.

Filled with brilliant moments and highlights throughout the day, the squad earned a hard fought victory.

Their captain, Gamilaroi woman Katie Bugden, accepted the trophy and notes she was very pleased with the teams efforts.

"It was a good day. It was our first run together as a team," she said.

"We've been training for a little while and it was good to see everything come to fruition."

Shepparton Trophy Winners – Team Photo. (Image: Supplied/Tackling Leukaemia)

In the final men's match, the Shepparton Bulls emerged victorious at Box Hill Rugby Club, defeating Endeavour Hills, also 19-5 in the final.

Despite Endeavour Hills' reputation as one of Melbourne's strongest 1st Division Clubs, the Bulls displayed remarkable resilience, taking the game head-on from the outset.

Their robust forward play created opportunities for their trademark open running game infused with Pasifika flair.

The victory not only showcased the talent thriving in Victorian Country Rugby but also underscored the club's dedication and organisational prowess, as they journeyed to Melbourne in the early hours to kick off the action at 9.00 am.

Beyond the on-field action, more than 50 players and supporters stepped forward to potentially become stem cell donors.

Captain Katie Bugden registering to take her swab for the bone Marrow Donor Registry. (Image: Supplied/ Tackling Leukaemia)

Employing an efficient saliva swab strategy, free of needles, Tacking Leukaemia targets donors from the 18-35 age bracket in grassroots sporting clubs featuring high Indigenous and Pasifika populations.

"I've been meaning to sign up for ages," Ms Bugden said.

"I was at the Powerhouse luncheon and Dean Exavier (from Tackling Leukaemia) explained the likelihood of Indigenous and Pasifika patients finding a match is pretty low.

"I had no idea, so that prompted me and it was really good and easy to do."

Katie Bugden swabbing herself to become a volunteer. (Image: Tackling Leukaemia)

This act not only bolsters the pool of potential donors but also addressed the disparity in representation on the ABMDR, particularly among Māori, Pasifika, and Indigenous communities, who are disproportionately affected by blood cancers like leukaemia.

Mr Maloney notes the new registers weren't as high as expected but that's due to the having many of the same teams return and having them sign up at last years competition.

"The Bone Marrow Donor Registry were very happy with the day and results," Mr Maloney said.

"Weve achieved a 10 per cent year on year growth and if we achieve 100 swabs by the end of the calendar year, which we will, it will be 10 per cent year on year for three years in a row."

Tackling Leukaemia remains steadfast in its mission to bridge this gap and ensure equal access to life-saving treatments for all.


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