Old rival universities provide additional thrill during Sunday afternoon rugby

by RUGBY.com.au staff

Old rivalries are synonymous with the game of Rugby. Wallabies v All Blacks, Wales v England and NSW v Queensland are just a few that come to mind.

At a Club level it’s the historic challenge between Sydney University and Queensland University, a battle dating back almost four decades through the Australian Club Championship.

The last time the two sides met was during the last Australian Club Championship in 2011, when they were both again reigning Champions of their respective 2010 Club competitions. It all went Queensland’s way during the last encounter, with the University side making the most of their home ground advantage at Ballymore defeating the Sydney students 42-26.

The Australian Club Championship didn’t take place in 2012 so the latest Queensland title holders were keen to secure back to back titles in what would have been their third success, having taken home the Championship crown previously in 1990 and 2011.

On Sunday afternoon the rivalry between the two old foes was sparked once again when the two sides came face-to-face in the Australian Club Championship play-off. Acting as the curtain raiser to the Waratahs v Blues Sunday afternoon fixture providing an additional Rugby spectacle for fans ahead of the Sunday afternoon Super Rugby clash between NSW Waratahs v Auckland Blues.

The 16,000 plus Rugby fans in attendance were treated to a feast of thrilling afternoon Rugby as the two University sides took to the field to contest the coveted title as Australia’s top Club side.

The two sides are currently the reigning Champions of their respective State Club competitions, NSW’s Shute Shield and Queensland’s Premier Rugby tournament.

In what was an impressive display of Australian Club Rugby played within the world-class confines of Allianz Stadium, Sydney University seized the Australian Club Championship title for the third time with a convincing 43-7 win.

Sydney dominated from the first five minutes with a try to Levi Dodd, followed by two tries to Melbourne recruit, Trent Dyer ahead of the half-time buzzer, leaving the Queensland side scoreless and trailing by 17-points.

Despite missing some key first graders, the home side continued to dominate with four tries in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Amongst the try scorers were upcoming Rugby talent including Australian Under 20s World Cup representative, Jock Merriman and 2012 Colts player, Tolu Latu. The score was finalised at 43-7 after a late try to Queensland’s fullback, Jamie Taulagi followed by a successful conversion to Tom Pincus.

It wasn’t all bad news for the University of Queensland Red Heavies with the match also providing a constructive opportunity for many of their upcoming talent, including 2012 Colts Grand Finalists representatives, Campbell Wakely, Ethan Brown, Sam Reiser, Harry Parker, and the son of former Wallaby Greg Cornelson, Jack Cornelson who played in the Australian Schoolboys side last year.

It’s the third time the students from Sydney University have won the Championship and their first since 2007, a timely success ahead of their 2013 campaign in this year’s NSW Club competition, the Shute Shield, which kicks off in less than two weeks’ time on Saturday 6 April.

The Red Heavies kick off their Premier Rugby campaign on the same day with a 2012 Grand Final rematch against Sunnybank.

The Australian Club Championship began in 1974 and is played on a rotating venue basis between Sydney and Brisbane each year. The competition ceased in 1993 but was revived again when Sydney University Football Club challenged West Brisbane Bulldogs for the 2006 title after winning the Sydney Club Premiership two years in a row.

Sydney went on to win the Australian Club Championship in 2006 and 2007 before Brisbane’s Easts Tigers ended their triumphant campaign in 2008 at ANZ Stadium. Since then, Queensland Club sides have claimed the title with Easts winning in 2009, Brothers in 2010 and University of Queensland winning last year’s at Ballymore.

The Australian Club Championship matches are sanctioned by Australian Rugby Union and the NSW and Queensland Unions.