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Last week I wrote an article that suggested the Canberra NRC team should adopt ACT colours, rather than the red and white of local club the Tuggeranong Vikings.
Little did I know that I would strike such a nerve in the nation’s capital.
The article received over 6000 reads, had over 200 comments, was shared on Facebook over 700 times and spawned a petition which has, at the time of this writing, received 227 signatures.
It is great to see that there is such passion for the game in Canberra, especially when all we seem to read in the paper is how much the game is struggling for support.
It would seem that nothing could be further from the truth in the capital. I went to PJ’s on Saturday night to watch the Reds. There was league, union, AFL and football all on at the same time and there were patrons baying at the staff to put the Reds game on!
I was a little surprised but very happy to see that rugby was being requested over the other three codes and that people were still interested, even though the Reds are not even an ACT team.
Since the success of the Brumbies last season, I am starting to feel that rugby is becoming the No. 1 sport again in the ACT. It makes sense to create a team that everyone in Canberra will support in the NRC.
If people will tune in on TV or turn out to home matches, it will not only make the game more popular in Canberra, but surely the whole of Australia if and when the NRC is successful.
Which brings me to why I feel the article generated such a huge response. Canberra sees its NRC team as a way to increase support and awareness for the sport.
It is a team that we can all get behind and have passion for. While there are those that see it only as a player pathway and that the name and colours don’t matter as long as our local players are getting a leg up, there are those that see it as more than that.
It’s more rugby for us to get enthusiastic about; it is not just a vehicle for the players but for the whole sport.
This is why having extremely close ties to just one Canberra club is such a narrow view and a short sighted waste of a chance to help lift the sport we love out of the doldrums.
There has also been a lot of anti-Vikings sentiment that has unearthed over the last week so let me address that.
The Vikings Club have done the ACT a great service by enabling this team to exist through its financial support and offering its facilities to the team. That being said they have named the team and no one is seeking to prevent them from using their logo or venue.
The Vikings Club President Geoff Adam has suggested that a compromise would be to allow Canberra club players to wear their traditional club’s socks.
However I think this stops too short. There are too many people that won’t be interested in this team if they are in red and white, whether the reasons for this are justified or not is irrelevant.
The feelings of angst are real and are not going to go away before this team kicks off.
There are also reports that Geoff Adam is prepared to honour the petition if it reaches 1000 signatures.
So if you really are passionate about your rugby and see the NRC as more than just a side show that doesn’t really mean much, then sign the petition. It only takes seconds to make a difference.