Politics or Sport: UC Vikings or not?

Politics or Sport: UC Vikings or not?

It has been an interesting experience with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) releasing it’s National Rugby Championships (NRC) Mach II, and being a rugby tragic from the ACT.  It seems that the Rugby Community in Canberra is split on whether to get behind the UC Vikings or not.

I have an opinion, but thought to give everyone perspective on my view, I should share that I am a huge Brumbies and Wallabies fan, but also “Bleed Blue”, I am a Royals Fan, with both of my sons playing for Royals Junior Rugby Union Football Club (JRUFC), and I coach as well.

royals owls

Royals scrum against Uni Norths Owls

In the beginning I too felt panged when I heard that not only was the new NRC team from Canberra taking the Vikings name, it was also using the home ground and their colours.

I too signed the petition to try and have the team play in ACT colours, but as I thought about the state of Rugby Union in Australia, especially financially, and recognised that if I was the organisation who was putting up the money to support the team, I would want to retain my name, home ground and colours, to see the marketing value out of that investment.

Although it did make me pose a question; “does the marketing work, if you alienate a good proportion of the supporter base?”

The answer is unclear, and we will have to reassess at the end of this first season.

My call to Canberra is this:  can we look past the politics of the name or colours?  Can we assess the value of the NRC?



Looking at the International Rugby Board (IRB) rankings (see:, Australia is ranked 3rd behind New Zealand (NZ) and South Africa (SA), who both have strong National competitions in the ITM and Currie Cups.

I know that some readers will think that this is a naive view (I agree) to see the strong National competition as the only difference, as Rugby is also the key winter sport in both countries, whereas in Australia, we have the AFL, NRL and soccer competing against Rugby, but it has got to be a positive to have a National Competition to support Super Rugby, and the Wallabies.

A successful Wallabies is the foundation of Rugby being successful in Australia, and the financial gains will flow down to all levels.  If we look back to 2001, when the Wallabies held the Bledisloe Cup and the Rugby World Cup, and the Brumbies won the Super Rugby title, the code was going great guns, leading into a very successful Rugby World Cup in Australia in 2003.

Crowd numbers were amazing, I don’t know the exact figures, but I reckon that the Brumbies must have average crowds close to 20K, and we were breaking crowd records, when the Brumbies played a home Super Rugby Final.  You didn’t hear people complaining about the cold back then.

What did this also mean to Local Rugby in Canberra?

If we look at the local competition since 2001, all seven clubs still exist (Norths merged with Uni’s in 2001 to form current Owls), and 6 of the 7 teams have played in the John I Dent final, with 4 of the 7 teams taking out the final.  I would have to say that while the finances and crowds have dropped off at Super Rugby and Wallabies level, local rugby has continued to maintain its existence.

Wests Fotu Auelua evades Easts Andrew Smith Competitors here! Team mates for UC Vikings!

Wests Fotu Auelua evades Easts Andrew Smith
Competitors here! Team mates for UC Vikings!

My thoughts are that while “fans” (I say fans in inverted commas, because I think the local rugby community are the only true fans, the others are probably better known as supporters) will come and go depending on multiple factors, I think that the people that support the local rugby are the foundation of the sport, and especially in Canberra are the reason we have been able to maintain a Super Rugby team, even though our population is not as big as any of the other Australian Super franchises.

I think that having an NRC team will give those local competition fans the opportunity to (a) have more rugby to watch; and (b) give their local club heroes, the opportunities to shine and hopefully make it up through the Australian Rugby hierarchy.

But do we think the NRC will help Australian Rugby?  My opinion is yes, it will help in a number of ways:

  1. It will provide a pathway from Local Rugby to NRC to Super Rugby to Wallabies;
  2. It will give players from the local competition opportunities to prove themselves, like Drew Southwell or Dave McKern from Wests, Les Makin or Seilala Lam from Whites, Liam Slater from Royals, Matt Hawke from Eagles and Tim Cree or Rohan Perry from Tuggeranong;
  3. It will give those non-starting Brumbies more game time;
  4. It will give Australian Rugby a February to November local season, where you can watch rugby in all forms.

All these factors will lead to the Wallabies being more successful and more financial, which will flow down to all facets of Australian Rugby.

If you ask anyone though, whether it is a player, the coach or an administrator, none of the success will come unless the community and fans get behind their perspective teams.  So Canberra, I ask you, don’t we have enough politics in this city, without letting it flow into our sport?

Whether you are planning on cheering for your local team’s representive (I’ll be cheering especially loud for Liam), or cheering for the fact that this team is representing Canberra, or simply want to see Australian Rugby become number 1 in World Rugby again, I urge you to get out and support the UC Vikings.

It will be beautiful weather down at Vikings Park, and 3 of the 4 home games will be Saturday afternoon games (2:3o kickoffs), the 3rd home game will be a Thursday night game, and will be televised on Foxtel.

Ticket prices for the UC Vikings are more than fair, they are exceptional:

  • At the Gate:   ADULTS $15 / Kids 10-18 $5 / Kids u9s Free!
  • Pre-sale (online) – : ADULTS $10 (plus booking fee) / Kids u18s $5 (plus booking fee)
  • SEASON PASS – From Brumbies HQ or Call 1300 733 899 : ADULTS $30 / Kids 10-18 $15 / Kids u9s Free

To compare this, the North Harbour Rays are charging $100 for 2x four game passes (or $50 each), this is almost double the UC Vikings season pass price.

It was annouced this week that Fotu Aeulua is our inaugural Captain, with a supporting leadership team, Jarrad Butler and Robbie Coleman as Vice Captains,  and Jesse Mogg  and Tim Cree part of the leadership team.

For details on the UC Vikings, you can either go to the Facebook page: or their Webpage:

Stay strong Canberra, let’s put the politics behind us and support our UC Vikings.

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