University rugby to be Australia’s third tier?
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One of the most discussed issues between Australian rugby fans is the lack of a third tier.
Many ideas have been suggested, such as introducing another professional national club competition or expanding the Shute Shield competition, but the latest idea has been to create a sophisticated university rugby setup.
The Rugby Union Player’s Association is pushing for an under 23s varsity competition.
Apparently, Greg Harris, the president of RUPA, has been visiting different parties involved with Super Rugby and Premier Rugby to try and gain support for this model.
Varsity rugby in this country hasn’t really gained any sort of notoriety outside of Sydney University; it has always taken the backseat to schoolboy and club rugby.
Perhaps there is potential in a varsity system, just take a look at the huge support American football gets for its collegiate tournaments.
Also, I don’t think it would be extreme of me to suggest that American rugby’s college level has more support than our university level with the USA Rugby Collegiate Seven’s Championship getting national television coverage on NBC.
Granted, our universities don’t have the long complex sporting histories, traditions and rivalries like most American colleges, but why not start creating these now.
There’s already a bit of petty rivalry between uni students, try building on it, you can have rivalry games such as Sydney Uni vs UNSW, ANU vs UC or Griffith vs UQ.
New ARU chairman Bill Pulver has stated that a third tier for Australian rugby is on the agenda, so could university rugby be the next attempt to solve Australia’s depth issues?