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The Forum > Article Comments > Where to now for club rugby in Australia? > Comments

Where to now for club rugby in Australia? : Comments

By Andrew Campbell, published 27/9/2005

Andrew Campbell examines club rugby in Australia and suggests solutions to the Super 8 competition quandary.

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While I can't comment on club rugby in Sydney, one has to ask what point there is to it in Brisbane? The failure of the Reds in last years Super 12, and the pending failure of the Reds in next years inaugeral Super 14 are direct results of club rugby in Brisbane becoming a bastion of private school boy cliques.

The most successful club in recent years, the Gold Coast Breakers is not dominated by players from the 'select' private schools in Brisbane. The Breakers have appeared in 4 finals in 5 years, and won on a couple of occasions. Yet only one of the teams players was in the Reds 22 regularly over the last few seasons. He has just left for the Western Force. Sunnybank has found itself in a similar position, although there are signs the Reds administration is being forced to wake up after 3 appalling seasons.

Regional Rugby Union is also suffering because of the Brisbane clique. Down Lands College has for years been trying to enter the GPS Schools competition. However for some reason producing players such as Timmy Horan doesn't help its cause. Meanwhile Rugby League is picking players at will from North Queensland, the Gold & Sunshine Coasts and Toowoomba leaving Union with a talent pool practically restricted to a dozen Brisbane Schools.

At last Alec Evans has been appointed to the Reds coaching staff which is promising (if only Knuckles would come back). But not before we lost a host of our best U21 to Perth. Let's just hope QLD Rugby wakes up. If not I propose the brisbane Reds, and a fifth Super 15 team- Greater QLD.
Posted by wre, Tuesday, 27 September 2005 1:39:29 PM
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I'm afraid there is a fundamental problem with this model. You can't have an Auastralian National Championship (ANC) without test and S14 players, or it will be hard to generate interest. the following format and timing is logical, fitting in with test seasons and Currie Cup/NPC, so we don't need to ask our Sth Pacific cousins to move...

you have 13 S14 games (plus maybe finals for some of them) running mid-Feb to end May, a couple of weeks off, then the national comp running for 7 weeks (assuming there are 8 teams) from mid-late June to mid-late August, with finals. So the club teams have a first half of the season without their super14 players, then the 2nd half without their ANC players too. Tough for them as they will never see the S14 players, but it's blatantly obvious we need it for the overall good of the game. The NSW clubs would stymie this model, despite it being best for the game.

8 teams would be something like

Sydney (SFS)
North Sydney/Central Coast (Nth Sydney Oval or Gosford)
Canberra (enough stadiums)
Brisbane (ditto)
Gold Coast or Qld Country
And maybe a NSW Country team - Newcastle, Armidale even, Wollongong and room for SA if they can get their act together. Or else ditch this team and start with 7 or 6 (ditch the Gold Coast team). Teams would play home and away and finishing at the end of September, which is still footy season regardless of what code you play.

Someone like the Force would still have the non-test players in the squad available and to an extent could use the comp to blood youngsters for the following year's S14 tournament. They have a squad of 30 and might lose 6 players to the test squad, so they still have a strong 22-24 man team with room for others to come in with the inevitable injuries. Others like Canberra and Brisbane would of course have an ample supply of players, being in rugby's heartland
Posted by jameswm, Tuesday, 4 October 2005 3:08:37 PM
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Thanks for your comments. WRE, the advantage of my proposal is that Queensland clubs would be promoted to the National Club Competition on the basis of merit, not history or connections. On current form this would benefit newer clubs such as the Gold Coast and Sunnybank.

James, as I point out in the article, Super 14 players not required for Wallaby duties would be available for the National Club Competition. It would run over 11 weeks following the conclusion of Super 14, and consist of 10 clubs playing each other once over 9 weeks, plus two weeks of finals. I suspect the NSW clubs would not stymie it, as the NSWRU are currently pushing a similar proposal. The key difference as I understand it, is that the NSWRU proposal does not allow for promotion/relegation between the National and State competitions. The advantage of my proposal is that it wouldn’t force clubs into shotgun marriages in order to qualify for the limited places in a national competition. Rather, they could explore merger proposals over time if they thought it was in their best interests. Also, my proposal would allow new regional clubs to be established and build up their strength competing in a State competition, before seeking entry to the National Club Competition.
Posted by AC, Thursday, 6 October 2005 12:44:57 PM
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