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By ARU Media Unit
Premier Rugby returns across the Country with each States 2013 tournaments kicking off in March and April
NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT each kick off their Premier Grade competitions this weekend, Victoria and Tasmania start their Premier tournaments in a few weeks’ time on Saturday 20 April while Northern Territory’s Darwin competition commenced on 16 March.
Fans are encouraged to get along to the Premier Grade games each weekend as a chance to witness Rugby’s future stars showcasing some of the best competition the game has to offer on local fields across Australia.
With a host of quality match-ups expected this year, Premier Grade Rugby provides a central pathway for Australian Rugby’s up and coming professional talent.
Many current Qantas Wallabies and Australian Sevens stars have made their way on to the professional scene through Premier Rugby with some making star appearances for their Clubs throughout the season.
Check out the previews of each State’s Premier Rugby tournaments below.
NSW Shute Shield
This year’s Shute Shield features many new-look sides as the twelve premiership teams look to get stuck into a huge 2013 tournament following a long pre-season.
Round one sees 2011 champions Eastwood do battle with 2012 finalists Southern Districts in a blockbuster opener. Warringah play Penrith at Pittwater Rugby Park, Eastern Suburbs take on Northern Suburbs at Woollahra Oval, Parramatta host 2012 winners Sydney University at Merrylands RSL Rugby Park, West Harbour are up against Randwick at Concord Oval and Gordon are at home to Manly at Chatswood Oval.
Many in the competition will be keen to display some of their best Rugby as Waratahs Coach, Michael Cheika plans to keep a keen eye on talented hopefuls with the potential to step up to the next level. With a host of Super Rugby talent in the mix, this makes for an exciting weekend of Rugby that no fan should miss.
The NSW Shute Shield draw and match locations can be found here.
The 2013 competition will be broadcast live on ABC1 throughout NSW and the ACT on Saturdays from 3pm. Interstate viewers can watch a full replay of each week’s Shute Shield game at 3.30am on Tuesday mornings on ABC1 nationally and rugby fans everywhere can catch all the action online at anytime on ABC iView.
QLD Premier Rugby
The 2013 Queensland Premier Rugby competition will kick off with a bang as last year’s Champions, University of Queensland get set to start their title defence in a 2012 Grand Final re-match against Sunnybank at St Lucia.
2012 finalists, Brothers also have a tough match in their opening round against Wests at Jack Ross Oval while the Sunshine Coast Stingrays prepare to take on Souths at home at Stockland Stadium on the Sunshine Coast. The Gold Coast Breakers go up against GPS at Yoku Road, while Norths and Easts will clash at Hugh Courtney Oval.
All 10 Premier Rugby clubs have been engaged in busy pre-season programs to prepare for the first round of competition this weekend.
A key pathway into professional Rugby, the Queensland Premier competition features upcoming local Rugby heroes, providing a spectacle of Rugby for onlookers with many players keen to earn their place in higher level Rugby.
This year the competition has introduced 10 Heritage Rounds to showcase the rich tradition and past of the Premier Rugby clubs with each club hosting one Heritage Round in 2013 featuring fundraising opportunities, activities and entertainment to celebrate Queensland Rugby’s 130 Year Anniversary. See more about the new Heritage Rounds here. - http://www.redsrugby.com.au/News/NewsArticles/tabid/581/ArticleID/8704/Default.aspx
The 2013 Queensland Premier Rugby draw and match locations can be found here.
ACT’s John I Dent Cup Premier Division
ACT’s John I Dent Premier competition kicks off this Saturday with four of the six first grade teams from Canberra and its surrounding regions set to open the action in the first round. Royals face Gungahlin this Saturday at Phillip Oval while Uni-Norths get set to tackle Easts at ANU North.
The clash between Royals and Gungahlin will see many Brumbies Academy players go head-to-head in what promises to be a highly entertaining first round clash. Meanwhile Uni-Norths and Easts are set for an interesting season as both get set to kick off their campaigns under new coaches. After a disappointing tournament last year, Easts have been active in recruitment and their defensive efforts, which will prove interesting against Uni-Norths’ mix of new and experienced players.
The John I Dent Cup Premier Division draw and match locations can be found here.
WA Pindan Premier Grade
Western Australia’s Pindan Premier Grade also commences this weekend with an opening round Grand Final re-match between Nedlands and Associates at The Foreshore this Sunday.
The Western Australian Pindan Premier competition includes 10 clubs who will all start their 2013 campaign this Sunday 7 April with each match kicking off at 3.30pm.
Cottesloe will host University in a replay of last year’s minor semi-final with the Gulls. A revamped Wests Scarborough side will have to wait another week to play their first match at their new home as they travel to Tompkins Park to take on Palmyra, Perth Bayswater travel to Kingsway to face Wanneroo, with Kalamunda and Rockingham squaring off at Hartfield Park.
The WA Pindan Premier Grade draw and match locations can be found here.
NT First Grade Darwin Competition
The Darwin Competition kicked off on Saturday 16 March this year so the teams will enter Round 3 this weekend.
The Darwin Rugby Union competition is one of the oldest and longest running in the Northern Territory and currently features five teams in the A Grade competition and six in B grade.
The University Pirates will be the team to beat in the A Grade this weekend after ending the Casuarina Cougars’ unbeaten streak of 54 games in round 2 by a whopping 42 points to 5.
Last year’s defending Champions, the Casuarina Cougars will be looking to rebuild during their bye round this week.
Meanwhile the University team will be keen to continue their strong run as they prepare to take on the Palmerston Crocs. It will be a clash of the two Darwin teams in the second game of round 3 as the South Darwin Rabbitohs go head to head with the Darwin Dragons.
The Darwin Competition draw and match locations can be found here.
SA Premier Grade
South Australian Rugby competition kicks off this weekend with the first round of the Bartercard Pre Season Cup. The Cup is run as a Cup and Plate Knockout competition over a three week period which includes all Premier Grade Clubs.
The official season kicks off on 27 April, with a replay of last year’s Grand Final between Brighton and Old Collegians under lights at Brighton Oval with both teams vying for the ANZAC Memorial Trophy. Players will be keen to put on their best form with the Michael von Berg MC – RSL ANZAC Day Medal up for grabs for the player voted best in the match.
The SA Competition draw and match locations can be found here.
Tasmania Rugby tournament
Tasmania’s Rugby tournament is officially underway in two weeks’ time on Saturday 20 April when reining premiers Taroona get set to defend their title against the Glenorchy Stags. Despite finishing outside the finals last year, the Stags have been boosted by the return of some key talent.
The Hobart Lions will face defending Champions Taroona in the second round a week later. With the 2012 Tasmanian player of the year, Wilhelm Koch on the Lions side, they will be looking to go one better in their campaign this year.
The tournament now features ten Clubs after newcomers, the AMC Vikings joined the competition last year. Despite finishing low on the ladder last year, the new team has made some new signings this year and could prove to be the side to watch. Despite a tough 2012 season, the Eastern Suburbs Roosters will also be one to watch under new coach, Brett Bourke from Queensland. Both the Burnie Emus and Devonport Bulls have lost key talent due to transfers and retirement but both have enough talent to succeed as the season unfolds. Meanwhile 2012 Grand Finalists the Harlequins will look to do one better this year after retaining their key talent.
More information on Tasmanian Rugby can be found here.
Victorian Premier Rugby
Victoria’s Premier Rugby also starts on Saturday 20 April. Game one will see last year’s second place-getters, Moorabbin with a home ground advantage against 2012 Champions, Melbourne who won all eighteen of their games played last year. The Melbourne side have won the first grade premiership every year since 2009.
Box Hill will also relish their home ground advantage against Harlequin who finished the 2012 season in third place. Power House play Endeavour Hills at Power House Senior, South Districts are set to go head-to-head with Melbourne Uni at the Southern Districts field while Footscray enjoy an opening round bye.
Victoria's Premier Rugby draw and match locations can be found here.