Nick Townsend didn't have to be standing on the sideline on a freezing cold Thursday night in Canberra.
But one look at the smile on his face, the Queanbeyan Whites uniform beneath his jacket and the football boots on his feet would suggest there is no place he would rather be.
Townsend is on the sideline at every Whites game, from fourth grade's usual morning timeslot right through to the John I Dent Cup side in the afternoon, even though a rare genetic disorder prevents him from playing.
Well, most of the time.
Because at ADFA's Dowsett Field on Thursday night, Townsend got the nod.
Queanbeyan had ticked past the half-century mark when Whites fourth grade coach Zach Byrnes turned to Townsend and said "Nick, you're going on".
Townsend took two steps back with a look of disbelief on his face before reality dawned. He was about to get on the field.
The Whites and ADFA had an agreement nobody would tackle Townsend, who is one of only a handful of people in the world diagnosed with Skraban-Deardoff syndrome.
So when the next kick-off was scooped up by Queanbeyan flyhalf Dan Hawke, the call came: "get the ball to Nick". Hawke found Townsend, who booted the ball downfield and turned to the bench with a grin.
More than rugby.— Caden Helmers (@cadenhelmers) July 22, 2021
Meet Nick Townsend, the most passionate Queanbeyan Whites player you’ll meet. He is one of few people to have been diagnosed with Skraban-Deardoff syndrome.
Last night, he got his moment for the Whites’ fourth grade side against ADFA. @BrumbiesRugbypic.twitter.com/1L1s118v90
Before long he got his chance close to the line, going over to score a try and converting the goal from in front of the posts.
Townsend's teammates came from far and wide to celebrate the moment and ADFA players applauded. The smile on his face said it all.
"What a wonderful video, full of courage and resilience," former Wallabies lock Justin Harrison posted on Twitter.
"Proud to be a part of the rugby family with you Nick, good on you mate, see you in Canberra sometime soon."
The roar from the few braving the cold on the sideline is an indication of what Townsend means to the Whites.
Turn up to Campese Field on any other Tuesday or Thursday night and he would be there with a smile. Townsend never misses a training session or a game.
This moment was a reminder sport means more than wins or losses.
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