Brumbies and Vikings eager to join new National Rugby Championships

Brumbies and Vikings eager to join new National Rugby Championships

The ACT Brumbies and Vikings group have launched separate bids to be part of the new domestic National Rugby Championships in an ambitious expression of interest that could base two teams in Canberra.

Officials are also investigating where the capital's team will play home matches, with options including Canberra Raiders heartland at Seiffert Oval, a new venue at Gungahlin or Viking Park.

Canberra is all but guaranteed inclusion in the eight- to 10-team competition and the Brumbies and Vikings group have both sent expressions of interest to the Australian Rugby Union.

More than 35 candidates are keen to play in the inaugural season, including an audacious bid from AFL powerhouse Collingwood to have a team play under its banner.

It's likely only one team will get approval to be based in Canberra when the competition starts in August.


The Vikings' sent in a proposal to join the competition as part of an affiliation with the Brumbies.

The Brumbies' proposal was independent, but the Super Rugby club could join forces with the Vikings for a combined Canberra team.

''If you don't put in an expression of interest, you won't get the tender document,'' Brumbies general manager Simon Chester said.

''You can do it as a stand-alone applicant or part of a syndicate … Tuggeranong's preference is to go in a partnership with us; the Brumbies fit in both categories and we haven't looked at all the ins and outs yet.

''It's more likely we'll be part of a partnership,'' he said. ''Traditionally we've worked with the Vikings. We're investigating whether that happens again and look at what works best.''

The NRC is the ARU's new project to bridge the gap between Super Rugby and club rugby.

It follows the failed Australian Rugby Championship, which lost $5 million and was scrapped after its first season in 2007.

The Canberra Vikings have played in the ARC and the Shute Shield previously and their 45,000-strong membership base is an attractive prospect.

Expressions of interest to be included in the championships close on January 13.

Potential teams will then go through a tender process and have to prove they are financially viable to run a team, which could cost up to $500,000.

Two teams in Canberra would give the capital's best rugby players a double chance to impress and play in the competition.

Brumbies and Super Rugby players from around Australia will play in the competition unless they're on international duties with the Wallabies.

One of the biggest hurdles for a Canberra team is where it will be based for up to four home games.

Canberra Stadium will be the venue for any games televised on Fox Sports, but it is too expensive to hire for all matches.

Brumbies officials have floated the prospect of playing at the birthplace of the Raiders, Seiffert Oval, Viking Park in Wanniassa or the new multipurpose field at Gungahlin.

Manuka Oval will be unavailable during the August-October season because of preparations to play cricket.

''It's great for Canberra and it extends the rugby year … it's just a matter of getting all the facts together,'' Chester said.

''We've got six to eight weeks to investigate all the options of where the team plays and what the set up looks like.

''I don't know which way it's going to go, but this competition is going to put club rugby players in the spotlight.''

Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.

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