Rugby union in the Australian Capital Territory

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Rugby union in the Australian Capital Territory
Governing body ACT and Southern NSW Rugby Union
Professional team Brumbies
First played c. 1907
Club competitions

Rugby union is a popular sport in the Australian Capital Territory. Rugby football began to be played in the regions around what is now Canberra more than a century ago.[1]

History[edit]

Rugby union was played in and around what is now the Australian Capital Territory well before it separated from New South Wales in 1911.[2] The Goulburn Rugby Union Club was formed in 1872,[3] and became a founding member of the Southern Rugby Union in 1874.[4] Cooma played Snowy River as early as 1876,[5] and Queanbeyan played Yass in 1878.[6]

The first match of the 1899 British Lions tour was held at the Goulburn Showgrounds, and the Central Southern RFU put up a strong showing before the visitors prevailed 11–3.[7] Central Southern beat the reigning Sydney premiers Glebe the following year.[8]

Beginnings[edit]

First Fifteen of Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1913
First Fifteen of Royal Military College in 1913.

A team from Hall was playing rugby by 1907.[1] Royal Military College, Duntroon played the game from the year it was founded in 1911.[9][10] The Federal City Club also played rugby union prior to the First World War, including matches against a Glenlee team from Bungendore and the Rovers and Warrigal clubs from Queanbeyan.[11][12][13]

The dominant rugby code in the region after the war was rugby league.[2] Although Royal Military College remained with rugby union, matches had to be arranged with Sydney teams for the college to play the game.[2][14] A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) branch of the NSW Rugby Union was founded in 1927,[15][16] but there was not sufficient support for the union code to warrant the establishment of a formal competition.[17] Royal Military College played a series of matches that year against the newly-formed Canberra Rugby Union Club instead.[18][19][20] The Canberra side had adopted a black and white strip.[21]

The FCT Rugby Union had to be re-established in 1930,[22][23] and re-established again in 1937.[24][25] No rugby union matches were played in Canberra for the five years prior to 1936,[26] in the period when the Royal Military College was forced to relocate to the Victoria Barracks, Sydney due to the economic downturn caused by the Great Depression.[27] After returning to Duntroon, the Military College played a re-formed Canberra Rugby Club in 1937, ten years after the teams had first met.[28][29]

The First Grade competition was started in 1938 with four clubs playing in the inaugural season.[30] The Territory's representative team hosted the All Blacks at Manuka Oval in 1938,[31] with the New Zealanders going on to win by 57–5.[31] The Federal Capital Territory Rugby Union was renamed the Australian Capital Territory Rugby Union in 1939.[32]

Growth of amateur rugby: 1946 to 1995[edit]

Rugby union expanded quickly after World War II, particularly in New South Wales.[33] The ACT representative team, often referred to simply as "Canberra", grew in stature throughout the 1950s and 1960s as part of the NSW Country Rugby Union.[33] The team won the Caldwell Cup for the Country Championship for the first time in 1964 and went on to win it three times in a row.[34][35] In 1966, five Canberra players were chosen in the squad for the Combined NSW Country team that gave the touring British Lions team a physical match,[36] losing narrowly by 6–3 in front of a record crowd at Manuka Oval.[37]

The 1970s was a breakthrough decade. ACT claimed their first win over an international side, defeating Tonga by 17-6 in 1973.[38] ACT Rugby Union separated from NSW Country after the 1974 season and became directly affiliated to the Australian Rugby Football Union.[39] In 1975 the ACT team won promotion to top division of the Wallaby Trophy, Australia's provincial championship at the time.[40] The triumph was cut short, however, as the tournament was cancelled in that season.[41][42] The reigning Five Nations champions, Wales toured Australia in 1978. The ACT won a come-from-behind 21-20 victory over the Welsh at Manuka Oval, showing that they could compete with some of the best players in the world.[43]

After the ACT team had comprehensively beaten New South Wales in 1994,[44][33] an invitation was issued for a Canberra club to play in the expanded 14-team NSWRU Premiership sponsored by AAMI for the following season.[45] The ACT Rugby Union formed the Canberra Kookaburra Rugby Club in August 1994,[46] with the Tuggeranong Vikings RUC as underwriters.[47]

Professional era[edit]

Brumbies colours

Brumbies[edit]

Main article: Brumbies

The Brumbies are the Australian Capital Territory's professional rugby union team and have competed in the transnational Super Rugby competition since the start of the professional era of rugby in 1996.

Competitions[edit]

Super Rugby[edit]

Main article: Super Rugby

The Brumbies play in the Super Rugby competition against other professional teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa,[48] and now Argentina and Japan. The Brumbies have won the Super Rugby competition twice (2001 and 2004), and finished as runner-up four times (1997, 2000, 2002, 2013).

2014 NRC: Michael Dowsett, playing for the UC Vikings, kicks ahead against Sydney.

National Rugby Championship[edit]

The ACT has one team in the National Rugby Championship (NRC):

ACTRU Premier Division[edit]

The Premier Division is contested in and around Canberra across four senior grades and three colts competitions. Club Championship trophies are also contested on overall results. The John I Dent Cup is the trophy for the first grade premiership competition, and the seven clubs currently competing for the premiership are:

The John I Dent Cup, which was first played for in 1938,[49][50] was a gift to the union by the pastoralist John I Dent.[49] The competition finals are now held at Viking Park.[51]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Queanbeyan". Goulburn Evening Penny Post. 25 July 1907. p. 1. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Rugby Union". The Canberra Times. 12 March 1937. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Football". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW). 3 August 1872. p.5 col. 6. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  4. ^ "The Southern Rugby Football Union". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW). 27 April 1875. p. 6. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Football. Cooma v Snowy River". The Manaro Mercury. 22 July 1876. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  6. ^ "Football. Queanbeyan v. Yass". Queanbeyan Age. 10 July 1878. p. 2. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "Football Notes. The English Teams successful in two hard contests. The Goulburn Game. New South Wales and Sydney matches". Referee (Sydney, Australia). 21 June 1899. p. 8. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  8. ^ "Football.". Singleton Argus. 2 October 1900. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  9. ^ "Football. Royal Military College Cadets v. St. Patrick'S College Goulburn.". Queanbeyan Age. 22 August 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  10. ^ "Football.". Queanbeyan Age. 26 June 1914. p. 2. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  11. ^ "Football". Queanbeyan Age. 27 June 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  12. ^ "Football. Glenlee v. Federal City.". Queanbeyan Age. 18 July 1911. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  13. ^ "Football". Queanbeyan Age. 3 May 1912. p. 5. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  14. ^ "Royal Military College: Governor-General Presents Prizes". Queanbeyan Age (NSW). 15 December 1925. p. 3. Retrieved 9 January 2016. 
  15. ^ "Rugby Union. FCT branch formed". The Canberra Times. 29 April 1927. p. 5. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  16. ^ H. Grose. (20 May 1927). "Rugby Union Football At Canberra.". The Canberra Times. p. 25. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "The Year In Sport. All Codes Advance: Rugby Union". The Canberra Times. 30 December 1929. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  18. ^ "Rugby Union. Match against Duntroon. Canberra Defeated". The Canberra Times. 3 May 1927. p. 5. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  19. ^ "Rugby Union. Canberra v. Duntroon". The Canberra Times. 24 May 1927. p. 5. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  20. ^ "R.M.C.and Canberra meet again tomorrow". The Canberra Times. 10 June 1927. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  21. ^ "Rugby Union. Sydney's support for Canberra body". The Canberra Times. 20 May 1927. p. 2. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  22. ^ "Rugby Union. Move to establish for next winter". The Canberra Times. 9 January 1930. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  23. ^ "Rugby Union launched in Canberra". The Canberra Times. 15 January 1930. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  24. ^ "Springboks Canberra Vísit. Meeting to form Rugby Union". The Canberra Times. 10 July 1937. p. 2. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  25. ^ "Rugby Union". The Canberra Times. 21 July 1937. p. 4. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  26. ^ "Play Resumed In Rugby Union. 'Varsity Beats Grammar. Exciting Struggle At Manuka.". The Canberra Times. 13 July 1936. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  27. ^ "History of Duntroon". Australian Army. 2016. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  28. ^ "Rugby Union. Canberra Team's First Game". The Canberra Times. 31 July 1937. p. 4. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  29. ^ "Canberra Club's Match.". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 July 1937. p. 21. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  30. ^ "Opening of Rugby Union season. University's plucky wín; R.M.C. too strong. Good clean football.". The Canberra Times. 2 May 1938. p. 3. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  31. ^ a b "Spectacular Rugby at Manuka. All Blacks' display. Canberra defeated 57 to 5. Record crowd attracted by football festival.". The Canberra Times. 11 August 1938. p. 2. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  32. ^ "Rugby Union. 'Year full of promise'. Annual meeting held.". The Canberra Times. 28 March 1939. p. 4. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  33. ^ a b c "History". Brumbies Rugby. 2015. Archived from the original on 24 December 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  34. ^ "Riverina beaten in Union final. A C T. holds Caldwell Cup for first time.". The Canberra Times. 8 June 1964. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  35. ^ "Third rugby union cup to ACT". The Canberra Times. 25 April 1966. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  36. ^ "ACT players to meet Lions". The Canberra Times. 2 May 1966. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  37. ^ "Country lose 3-6 in fine display against Lions". The Canberra Times. 19 May 1966. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  38. ^ Foster, Michael (10 June 1973). "Sterling win to ACT". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  39. ^ Foster, Michael (20 March 1975). "Two events of significance for ACTRU". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  40. ^ "ACT wins Wallaby Trophy tournament". The Canberra Times. 2 July 1975. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  41. ^ "Wallaby Trophy cancelled". The Canberra Times. 30 June 1976. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  42. ^ "Reality for ACT aproaches". The Canberra Times. 13 July 1977. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  43. ^ Foster, Michael (14 June 1978). "Pack's magnificent obsession". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  44. ^ Nix, Alwyn (4 July 1994). "Cornish leads ACT to glory over NSW". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  45. ^ Nix, Alwyn (10 April 1994). "Rugby Union: Binge drinking to be targeted". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  46. ^ Nix, Alwyn (9 August 1994). "Stokes to coach Kookaburras in NSW union". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  47. ^ Scholes, Gary (29 November 1995). "Wanted: leader to revitalise the ailing life-blood of ACT rugby in '96". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  48. ^ Mulford 2005, p. 242–244.
  49. ^ a b "Club Contol – Rugby by-laws". The Canberra Times. 23 March 1938. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  50. ^ "Norths' Annual Meeting". The Canberra Times. 27 January 1939. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  51. ^ "John I Dent Cup". Vikings Rugby. 2014. Archived from the original on 27 December 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 

External links[edit]