Club Corner: club rugby seasons set to kick off in Canberra and Melbourne

Thu, 15/04/2021, 02:06 pm
Nick Wasiliev
by Nick Wasiliev
The John I Dent Cup kicks off this weekend in Canberra

Round one of club rugby served up some fantastic opening fixtures nationwide, with several teams firing warning shots to the rest of their competitions. 

This weekend sees club finally kicking off in all the mainland capitals, with Melbourne and Canberra set to enjoy their first round of club footy!

Easts will be looking to get back to winning ways in round two.
Easts will be looking to get back to winning ways in round two.


Starting in Brisbane, the first round of the Hospital Cup served up a lot of fascinating clashes, with GPS, Bond University and University of Queensland picking up where last season left off with wins. The result of the round, however, was undoubtedly Sunnybank, who pulled off an upset away win against last year’s premiers, Easts. 

This weekend will see several first round winners go head-to-head, and the return of Reds player Liam Wright to Easts giving the premiers a massive boost. The Red Heavies will look to push for the top of the ladder when they play Souths, Wests will play their first match of the season against Brothers, and Norths will host their first game of the year against GPS. Match Of The Round:

Bond University v Easts: The Bullsharks got their season off to a flyer last week with their home win over Norths, and as they look to chase for their first premiership they’ll sense a great opportunity to mark themselves against the current premiers. Having proven that they have the potential to knock over the likes of UQ last year, Bond University will need to hit the ground running early on Saturday. Meanwhile, Easts might be welcoming back Wright, but they have plenty to work on after their last minute loss at home last week to Sunnybank. The Dragons exposed several gaps in the Tigers defence, so anticipate they’ll be hungry for revenge when the make the trip down to Robina.

Other fixtures:

Brothers v Wests

Norths v GPS

Souths v University of Queensland

Sunnybank - BYE

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Randwick in action against Gordon last year
Randwick in action against Gordon last year


The opening round of the Shute Shield saw big wins for Sydney University, Randwick, Norths, Eastwood and Gordon, with each side putting upwards of fifty points on their respective opposition. Gordon’s win was most impressive, carving up the Marlins at nearly a point a minute at Manly Oval. Meanwhile, the Beasties-Rebels match more than lived up to expectations, with the Rebels depth notably looking stronger, despite going down at the death. 

This weekend the Rebels will have the chance to get some much needed confidence when they take on Eastwood, while Easts host Manly, Sydney University hosts the Pirates, Norths make the trip up to Newcastle, and the Two Blues have a tough assignment on their hands when they head to Chatswood Oval to face Gordon. Match Of The Round:

Warringah v Randwick: the Rats enter the competition with their first match at Rat Park, and it’s fair to say they'll be coming out with a point to prove. 2020 was a disappointing year up in Warringah, as the club suffered from a significant depth issue. Following Darren Coleman’s departure, the Rats still haven’t been able to achieve the heights of 2017, but a new year brings new opportunities, and with that comes a chance to test themselves against one of the stronger sides.

The Wicks more than showed up West Harbour when they played at Drummoyne Oval, one of the many schellackings of the previous weekend. They will likely find it much tougher going at Rat Park, but in considering they have been on the cusp of the being one of the top teams for the last few years, this match will give them a good indication of where they are, and what work needs to be done.

Other fixtures:

Gordon v Western Sydney

Southern Districts v Eastwood

Eastern Suburbs v Manly

Sydney University v West Harbour

Hunter Wildfires v Northern Suburbs

Penrith - BYE

The Royals heading out for the Grand Final in 2020
The Royals heading out for the Grand Final in 2020


The national capital played host to one of the most hotly contested seasons of club rugby last year, with the Royals knocking off the Gungahlin Eagles in the grand final last year.

Despite it’s competitiveness, 2021 brings an air of inevitability about it: for the last eleven years, the cup has been split between Tuggeranong and the Royals. Given the competitiveness of the Eagles, Owls and Wests especially, it is time one of the other clubs step up and win in Canberra in 2021, which further adds to what will be an exciting season of club footy. Match Of The Round: 

Uni-Norths v Canberra Royals: at this corresponding fixture last season, the Owls took an upset win and began a roll of games that saw them lead the tournament for nearly the entire season. While they fell short in finals, they should know the value of a win against last year’s premiers, and will need to put their best foot forward to win this match.

The Royals meanwhile are marked as the benchmark for the year, and having a target on their back is likely going to force them to produce some quality rugby to maintain their hold on the Cup. Simple for them, start the season where they left off. 

Other fixtures: 

Tuggeranong v Queanbeyan

Gungahlin v Wests


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Perth Bayswater in action in the FMG Premiership Grade.
Perth Bayswater in action in the FMG Premiership Grade.


The FMG Premier Grade served up a lot of entertaining footy in the first round, with the notable gap between the stronger and weaker teams of previous seasons a lot smaller across all games. The round also saw several big surprises, including UWA putting forty points on last year’s semi-finalists Joondalup, and both last year’s grand finalists Cottesloe and Associates going down at home to Wests Scarborough and Palmyra, respectively. 

This weekend sees several big upcoming clashes, including the Southern Lions hosting Wests, UWA hosting Cottesloe, and Joondalup hosting Associates. Match Of The Round:

Nedlands v Perth Bayswater: Perth have been teetering on the edge of the top eight for several years now, and despite missing out last year, last week saw them put in a positive performance against Curtin Uni. Considering they have shown the potential to knock off some of the bigger teams, a win here against Nedlands could be massive in the context of their season.

Nedlands fought off a brave Kalamunda outfit last week to come out on top in round one. Considering the losses sustained by multiple heavyweight teams, an opportunity also looms for them to move in the top of the ladder with a win here. 

Other fixtures:

Southern Lions v Wests Scarborough Wanneroo v Coastal Cavaliers

Curtin Uni v ARKs

Kalamunda v Palmyra

UWA v Cottesloe

Joondalup v Associates

The Dewar Shield is back for the first time since 2019.
The Dewar Shield is back for the first time since 2019.


It has been nearly two years since a Dewar Shield match was last played, but this weekend finally sees the return of the Melbourne club competition. With previous form less likely to play an impact due to the effect of COVID-19, it’s fair to say that 2021 is fair game to whoever the team that takes the opportunity! Match of The Round

Melbourne v Harlequins: if previous form does play an impact in the performances of the teams this season, then this match should already be set to be a beauty! Harlequins and Melbourne have been sharing the Shield since the 2013 season, so with both sides looking to kick their season off with a win, this match will already be a critical fixture in the context of the season.

Other Fixtures:

Endeavour Hills v Footscray 

Box Hill v Moorabbin

Power House v Melbourne University

Brighton with the 2020 Tamaki Cup.
Brighton with the 2020 Tamaki Cup.


Finally, round one of the Coopers Premier Grade saw several close encounters between the heavyweights of the competition, as well as several of the up and coming sides. Brighton defended their title with a close win over Burnside, while Woodville fell just short of causing a major upset over Old Collegians.  

This weekend will see Southern Suburbs playing their first game of the season against Burnside, while the Wasps will look to try their luck against the current premiers. 

All fixtures: 

Burnside v Southern Suburbs

Adelaide University v Port Adelaide

Old Collegians v Onkaparinga

Woodville v Brighton

Elizabeth - BYE

Wherever you are this weekend, we hope you enjoy your club footy!

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