Vikings Group keen to unite Canberra rugby with heritage National Rugby Championship round
Advertisement

Vikings Group keen to unite Canberra rugby with heritage National Rugby Championship round

The Vikings Group hopes a heritage round and wearing traditional ACT Kookaburras colours to start the National Rugby Championship season will help ease any tension in the Canberra rugby community.

The Vikings Group has taken charge of the capital's NRC licence and will spend $250,000 on the team each season for the next four years after striking an agreement with the ACT Brumbies and ARU.

The Vikings will wear ACT Kookaburras colours in round one of the NRC season.

The Vikings will wear ACT Kookaburras colours in round one of the NRC season.

Photo: Bradley Kanaris

The move alleviates the extra financial pressure on the Brumbies as the Super Rugby club works to turn around its finances after losing more than $3 million in the past three years.

The Vikings involvement has caused some angst at Canberra rugby clubs because of their links to the Tuggeranong Vikings in the John I Dent Cup.

The ACT Kookaburras celebrate their famous win over NSW in 1994.

The ACT Kookaburras celebrate their famous win over NSW in 1994.

Advertisement

The NRC team was a previous three-way joint venture between the Vikings Group, the Brumbies and the University of Canberra.

But Vikings Group boss Anthony Hill has a vision for uniting Canberra and getting all clubs to support the NRC team.

The team will be known as the Canberra Vikings and will wear red, black and white. But there are plans for a heritage week in round one to recognise Canberra's rugby history.

"We've got a few ideas. The Kookaburras are at the heart of rugby in Canberra and is the origin," Hill said.

"We plan on acknowledging that very early in the piece. There are some thoughts around a heritage round and wearing the Kookaburras' colours to kick things off.

"That has been embraced by our organisation and the Brumbies. The only way we can change the attitude is to produce a team that is a Canberra team and a true representation of Canberra.

"Hopefully we can change the perception. This is about providing pathways for local rugby players as well as bringing players into Canberra who aspire to play in the NRC or Brumbies. That can only strengthen [Canberra's premier division].

"There are only so many spots available in each team so you'd hope the talent is spread around."

Brumbies chief executive Michael Thomson said the NRC pathway in Canberra could have been jeopardised had the VIkings not been involved.

The Brumbies will still commit Super Rugby contracted players to the program as well as helping oversee strength and conditioning for the squad.

Brumbies high performance manager Damien Hill will be a part of a sub committee to help the Vikings set up their squad while a coach is expected to be appointed in the coming months.

One of the main concerns of rival Canberra clubs is the Tuggeranong side will have an influx of players who want to join the team to press their NRC claims.

However, the Brumbies and Vikings Group are keen to ensure there is a spread of talent rather than having a stacked Tuggeranong roster.

"We would hope it strengthens the local competition. We see as an opportunity to bring high quality into the region and then supplement all teams in the competition," Thomson said.

"We'll be heavily involved ... there will be a strong flavour of contracted Brumbies in the Canberra Vikings.

Loading

"We think the upside is significantly greater than us running the NRC team ourselves. We've been talking with all of the clubs so they're full aware of our philosophy.

"It's about how do we make rugby stronger in this region. It's about developing players not just for the Vikings but all of the premier clubs."

Chris Dutton

Chris Dutton is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

Most Viewed in Sport

Loading

Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

By signing up you accept our privacy policy and conditions of use