Frank Ortiz is one of the oldest rugby players for the Crippled Crows. (ABC News: Claire Campbell)
Research shows that older Australians are increasingly giving up sport and exercise, but a group of former rugby players in Adelaide break the shape and prove that no one is ever too old to go to the court.
- Only one in four people over the age of 70 performs the recommended 150 minute training a week
- A group of about 40 seniors in Adelaide play a scratch fight every fortnight for exercise
- The rules have been changed to protect the senior players
At 75, Frank Ortiz is one of the oldest but most crucial players in the Crippled Crow's rugby side.
On a wet and wintery day in Adelaide, a group of men and women in their 60s and 70s donned their footy boots and guernsys and faced each other on the ground.
The fight is about to start and the players chanting "hurry, come on, Frank".
He runs late for the most important part of the fight, a pre-game toast of port – for fun, friendship and fraternity.
"It's tradition," Ortiz said.
"At first I was reluctant to drink because I thought it would ruin my game.
"But soon I learned to improve my game."
The team has a tradition of drinking a shot of the harbor before each game. (ABC News: Claire Campbell)
About every other quarter, Mr. Ortiz is added to 40 odd older rugby players in South Australia for a scratch fight.
Many are former international and state players who wanted to take up the sport later in life.
A player shot that it was a bit like returning to an under 8-page: the rules have changed, there are no winners and losers, and their families come out to watch them play.
Sir. Oritz began playing rugby at the age of 13 and continued to join the Chilean national side.
He stopped the sport professionally, but when he moved to Australia in 1970 he felt he was still too young to completely abandon the game he loved so much.
For the past 30 years he has played with the Crippled Crows team
"I feel gifted or lucky to be able to do what I do," he said.
"If you talk to my friends, they'll say & # 39; I don't know how he's still running & # 39 ;.
"But you're being knocked down, getting up again – it's really a part of life."
Changed rules protect senior players
While admitting that it is an "average" level of rugby with players of all "different shapes and sizes," he said the team "opened the doors" for him to make friends and settle in Australian life.
"They are good players, you can still see flare of how they play," he said.
"But when we grow old, we lower ourselves."
Sir. Oritz plays in purple shorts, which means he can't be tackled to the ground. Others have red shorts if they have a serious injury or yellow shorts if they cannot be tackled at all.
At 60, Sue Stewart died the red shorts and decided she wanted to join the team as the first female player.
"I'm going with my husband, so I'd rather play than stand on the sidelines," she said.
She has only played three games, but she said she already felt like a welcome and appreciated member of the club.
"I've been playing touch football for 30 years, so I had the basic skills … but there are people here who are in their 80s who are very slow, you don't have to worry, just come go ahead and drive, "she said.
"It's about mateship, friendship, nobody wins the game.
"The last match we played, the last test was actually scored by the referee, the ball was sent in."
Avoid the temptation to become sedentary, says expert
The Council on Aging Jane Mussared said that only one in four people aged 70 or over completed the recommended 150 minutes or more a week of exercise.
"The temptation is to become more sedentary," she said.
"Not moving at any age is a really dangerous thing to do; it has a negative impact on chronic illness.
"Our life comes from us in our Middle Ages and then we do not return to exercise
"The message is really back to exercise, find your tribe, find something you love.
"Physical activity is the best medicine: it is good for our strength, good for our balance, it is good for our mental health, it is good for our physical health."
John Marwick never promised to play "oldman's rugby" but still plays with others in their 60's and 70's. (ABC News: Claire Campbell)
John Markwick promised he would never play "oldman's rugby".
"But here I am 27 years later, still involved," he said.
"I played rugby against some of these guys. Then they were the enemy, now they are my friends.
"I know it's a cliché, but it's more than a game, it's lifestyle and you make friends for life.
"And I continue until they take me to the big league upstairs."
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