2 June 2023

The rugby community needs to help the Penrith Emus in the ACT competition

| Tim Gavel
Join the conversation
Round 5 John I Dent Cup, Penrith Emus and the Gungahlin Eagles. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Ouch! The scoreboard says it all. Round 5 John I Dent Cup, Gungahlin Eagles 99 beat the Penrith Emus 17. Photo: Tim Gavel.

It’s been a tough season so far for Penrith, with the last two games in the John I Dent Cup highlighting the gulf between the Emus and Canberra teams.

In Round 5, the Gungahlin Eagles defeated Penrith 99-17 at Nicholls.

This was followed in Round 7 by an even bigger loss to the Tuggeranong Vikings. The Vikings hit triple figures, winning 111-17.

It’s worth noting that both games were called off early.

The hope in Canberra circles is that their current predicament is not terminal and the Penrith Emus can rise again to be competitive.

READ ALSO Kim Kachel’s six-and-a-half year tenure as Tennis ACT CEO creates a permanent legacy for the sport

The Emus were left out of the Shute Shield for the 2022 season resulting in an invitation to join the ACT competition in first grade for both men and women and the men’s seconds and colts.

In their first season, they were competitive, especially at their home ground, Nepean Rugby Park.

That hasn’t been the case this year, and it’s been a struggle.

There have been instances this season where the Emus have been forced to forfeit second grade.

On a positive note, though, the Colts and women’s first-grade teams have been competitive.

Compounding the woes of the Emus first-grade side has been the strength of rugby league in the Penrith region, with the Panthers winning back-to-back NRL premierships.

There is also the travel factor with every away game requiring a seven-hour round trip in a bus to and from Canberra.

Then after the bus trip to Canberra, they face well-drilled ACT teams, with a sprinkling of Brumbies’ contracted players, and get hammered on the scoreboard in the process.

Then it’s back on the bus for the long trip home to Penrith.

What is obvious is that they need help.

READ ALSO Braidwood’s iconic Len Mutton and Co rings up 110 good years

Penrith is a ‘no-man’s land’ when it comes to rugby union.

They don’t fall into the ACT catchment, and NSW Rugby appears to have minimal interest.

So, is it up to ACT Rugby to offer more support by developing players and providing Brumby contracted players to improve the standard of the Emus team? And should it really be up to NSW Rugby to provide more support? Or should it be the responsibility of Rugby Australia to step in and help the Emus?

Having met some of the players and their families, both at Nepean Park and in Canberra in my role with the Gungahlin Eagles, what is obvious is the important part rugby plays in their lives.

Rugby Australia officials need to spend time with these players, their coaches and the management to understand the effort they put in week-in-week-out just to field a team.

It means more to the Emus and their supporters than what appears on the scoreboard.

The Uni-North Owls travel to Nepean Rugby Park to take on the Penrith Emus today at 3:05 pm.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Vinson1Bernie3:22 pm 09 Jun 23

I assume the plan was to tap into the vast Polynesian rugby community in the west as a contra to Sydney Rugby who some felt let them down. Maybe it will bear some fruit – we will see

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.