Union players Matt Leighton, Nathan Freeman, Jimmy Courtice and Adam Murrell.
Union players Matt Leighton, Nathan Freeman, Jimmy Courtice and Adam Murrell. Mike Knott

Rep honours up for grabs

CAMPAIGNERS in this year's Rugby Bundaberg competition will be playing for more than the Spring Cup trophy with representative honours on offer for the first time in nearly 20 years.

It may be considered the game played in heaven, but on a local level, rugby has lived in the shadow of the Salter Oval grandstands.

New Rugby Bundaberg president Bruce Dalton is determined to shake the poor cousin tag of local rugby and offer players and fans a chance to enjoy a higher tier of competition.

“There hasn't been a strong focus on representative football in recent years because the emphasis has been on building the Spring Cup competition,” he said.

“People have worked hard to promote the game and have made some real headway, and I think now we are at the stage where we can take the next step.”

Following the All-Safe Spring Cup competition, which kicks off this weekend, will be the new Wide Bay Championships to be played over autumn.

So far teams from Bundaberg, Gympie and Hervey Bay have signed on, while South Burnett has given a tentative thumbs up.

Dalton said waves of anticipation had rippled through Bundaberg's rugby community, which has not seen representative football grace the home paddock since the early 1990s.

“Young emerging players want the chance to play at this level and rugby fans want the chance to watch a higher level of competition and this will give them that pathway,” he said.

State selectors will cast a keen eye over the rep fixtures with clipboards at the ready to pick a Wide Bay representative side for the Queensland Country Championships to be held next year.

Dalton said there would be no shortage of Bundaberg talent for selectors to draw upon for the state competition.

“There are some young guys coming through the ranks at present who have the talent and the potential to mix it with the very best,” he said.

The All-Safe Spring Cup will get underway tomorrow night 6.30pm with a clash between Alloway Falcons and Wests Barbarians at Across The Waves Sportsgrounds.



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