Canberra's amateur rugby clubs fear limited exposure in a proposed national club championship will have a major impact on the competition and affect their power to recruit players.
Rugby Australia is set to explore a wide range of third-tier rugby alternatives as part of its broadcast deal tender process, which will ramp up this week after going to market on Friday.
Super Rugby and Tests will be key components, but Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle wanted to present a "whole of game" package to television suitors.
Several ideas have already been floated, including the prospect of a club championship with multiple teams from Sydney and Brisbane, but only one from Canberra and other regions.
The Vikings Group has funded Canberra's place in the National Rugby Championship for several years, but it's unclear if the competition will continue beyond this year.
There is a push to tap into existing club tribalism rather than trying to manufacture new support.
Canberra Vikings coach Nick Scrivener knows the third-tier set up better than most. He leads Canberra's side in the NRC and played for the Canberra Kookaburras.
He also coaches the Tuggeranong Vikings in the John I Dent Cup and he hopes Rugby Australia can find the right mix to continue a third-tier player production line.
"The important thing is to have that tier of rugby, a bridge between club footy and the next level," Scrivener said.
"That tier of rugby has served Canberra really, really well over the years and it suits the Brumbies and the club competition.
"I don't know how it's going to look, but I hope it continues. But you don't want to dilute club rugby too quickly, either here or in Sydney."
It is hoped the new third-tier system would be played in the current NRC window to allow club competitions to continue.
One suggestion being floated is the prospect of having north and south representative teams from Canberra.
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Another idea is to have a set allocation from club competitions around Australia, with spots to be decided by promotion and relegation.
Players from clubs not involved could then be drafted into the top teams for a club championship.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks would be the financial commitment required to play in a national competition.
But there is a belief Canberra has the player depth to compete against the best, and being left out of a revamp would have an affect on recruitment ability.
"I think there have been enough Canberra teams prove we would be competitive at a national level," said Wests president Angus McKerchar.
"The Canberra club competition has always been an avenue for players to get exposed to the top level because of the access to the Brumbies.
"The Brumbies coaches are always watching club rugby, which gives players the chance to be seen better than anywhere."
The NRC has divided fans across the competition because clubs were pushed aside in favour of new teams.
Canberra's existence has relied on Vikings Group money, but it still caused angst between John I Dent Cup rivals.
"I'm really proud of the Vikings Group, who have supported that third tier for a long, long time through the Kookaburras and various iterations of the Canberra Vikings," said Vikings president Brendan Allardyce.
"I think the standard of the NRC has been excellent, but I can see the benefit of that tribalism. There will always be some sort of divide ... we set very high standards and the others are coming up as well. That's pleasing to see.
"There's no doubt the John I Dent Cup is a quality competition and absolutely no doubt we could compete with the Brisbane competition and the top echelon in Sydney."