Why Canberra’s role in the National Rugby Championship is vital

Tim Gavel 29 August 2018 9
The NRC has provided Canberra with a level playing field

The NRC has provided Canberra with a level playing field.

The All Blacks demolition of the Wallabies in this year’s Bledisloe Cup series is surely evidence enough that more needs to be done in the lower tiers of Australian Rugby.

A key component is the National Rugby Championship, which gets underway next weekend with the Canberra Vikings taking on Queensland Country at Viking Park. The NRC, in its fifth season, gives Australia that crucial second tier below Super Rugby.

The second level is well entrenched in South Africa and New Zealand with the Currie Cup and the Mitre 10 Cup. Australia, to a certain extent, has been playing catch up. The Australian Rugby Union launched the ill-fated Australian Rugby Championship in 2007 before it was axed after just one season because of ballooning costs. It was then resurrected in a revamped format with a new sponsor in 2014.

The Vikings’ role in this competition can’t be underestimated after the many barriers placed in front of previous Canberra teams in national, Sydney and Brisbane competitions. The ACT has been treated poorly at times over the years with schoolboy teams excluded, while the treatment of Canberra Kookaburras and the Vikings did little to progress the code in Canberra. At one stage, in a bid to play in the Brisbane competition after being excluded from Sydney, the Vikings were forced to pay the travel and accommodation costs of Brisbane teams when they played in Canberra.

The NRC has provided Canberra with a level playing field.

This competition is vital to provide a clear pathway for young local players seeking to play Super Rugby and the Wallabies. If Canberra didn’t have a team, the chances are these promising juniors such as Tom Ross, Mack Hansen and Ryan Lonergan, would be forced to play elsewhere for the next two months even though they are contracted to the Brumbies. It also provides an opportunity for players such as Ben Hyne – who missed the Super Rugby season with a knee injury – a chance to show Brumbies’ coach Dan McKellar what he is capable of doing against an opposition higher than club level.

There has, at times, been disquiet in ACT clubs over the fact that the team is called the Vikings. Some have suggested it had the perception of simply being a Tuggeranong team representing Canberra.

More recently though that opposition has dropped considerably as the Vikings’ organisation moved to reassure rival clubs that it was a team truly representing Canberra.


September 1: Canberra Vikings vs Queensland Country at Viking Park, 5 pm. Entry is free.
September 8: Canberra Vikings vs Sydney at Concord Oval, 3 pm
September 16: Canberra Vikings vs Western Force at Viking Park, 3 pm. Entry is free.
September 23: Canberra Vikings vs NSW Country Eagles at Armidale, 1 pm.
September 29: Canberra Vikings vs Melbourne Rising at Viking Park, 7 pm. Entry is free.
October 6: Canberra Vikings vs Fiji Drua at Lautoka, Fiji, 3 pm.
October 14: Canberra Vikings vs Brisbane City at Easts Rugby Club, Brisbane, 2 pm.

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9 Responses to Why Canberra’s role in the National Rugby Championship is vital
Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 11:54 pm 31 Aug 18

Sorry Tim but if this team is to be a representation of Canberra rugby then it needs to drop the Viking name. It excludes every other club in the competition and quite frankly makes a mockery of the ACT rugby community that one club is allowed to carry over their club name into the NRC. I for one will not support them until this changes.

    Anthony Davies Anthony Davies 1:05 am 01 Sep 18

    Brumbies and ACT rugby couldn't fund the license. Vikings Group fund it. Could other clubs help pay for it? No didnt think so.

    Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 7:29 am 01 Sep 18

    Vikings have been funding Brumbies and ACT Rugby for years, we all know that, we (the supporters of clubs other than the Tuggeranong Vikings)are not stupid. But to name the Canberra team the “Vikings”and isolate the other clubs in the comp and to disregard the history of the ACT Rugby all because they have the money is really self indulgent. I would have no issue with the Canberra Kookaburras being sponsored by the Viking Group but no they have to have full control because they have the money. Funny thing is they didn’t have the money all those years ago before poker machines!!

Rory McQuinn Rory McQuinn 5:24 pm 31 Aug 18

Well said Tim Gavel, Vikings in name only.

Gee Jay Gee Jay 5:56 am 31 Aug 18

The opposition is still there which is evident by the lack of attendance to their games, free entry this weekend and they will still struggle to attract a crowd. One of the keys reasons for this comp is to give club players a chance at the next level and there is a total of 4 players in the 23 for this weekend who don't have a Brumbies deal. It has become a Brumbies pre-season team. Irae Simone didn't play John I Dent Cup this year and is in the team, purely because he has a Brumbies deal for next year, taking the spot of a local bloke who might of had a chance to show what he has got!

    Aaron Subritzky Aaron Subritzky 8:40 pm 31 Aug 18

    But how many players last year weren’t contracted by the brumbies and have subsequently been contracted? I thought the whole point of the competition was to unearth potential super rugby players. Honestly it’s this kind of small mindedness that is the reason your teams are shite.

    Gee Jay Gee Jay 9:18 pm 31 Aug 18

    Aaron Subritzky yeah how are we going to unearth super rugby players when only 4 players aren't contracted players? And who's team is 'shite'?

Jay Annabel Jay Annabel 8:34 pm 30 Aug 18

How great would it be if people actually knew about this amazing comp.

Matt Casey Matt Casey 7:17 pm 30 Aug 18

Well spoken

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