Sydney University Football Club collected their sixth Australian Club Rugby Championship with a 45-19 win over Brisbane premiers, the Wests Bulldogs Rugby Club, at Sci-Fleet Stadium, Brisbane, last Saturday week.
The Australian Club Championship, which is contested between the Brisbane and Sydney club premiers, was first played in 1908. The concept was resurrected in 1974 and again in 1982 and has been played on a more regular basis since then.
SUFC won back-to-back Club Championships in 2007 and 2008 when they defeated Wests 36-5 at Lang Park, Brisbane, and backed up the next year with a 24-0 result over Sunnybank at the same venue. The Club repeated that effort in 2013 and 2014, defeating the University of Queensland 43-7 at Sydney Football Stadium and travelling to Brisbane the next year to post a 19-14 result over Easts at Bottomley Park. SUFC won the title again in 2020 with a 28-8 result over the University of Queensland at Sydney University.
This year’s win, played in steamy conditions, saw the game still in the balance at halftime, with Sydney University holding a 19-12 lead. Wests scored soon after the break to level proceedings at 19-all before the Students hit their straps. They added another four tries to end up with a telling win and the Bernie Power Cup.
Captained by Angus Allen and coached by Damien Hill, Sydney University boasted a mixture of youth, club debutants and old heads to pull off the seven tries to three result.
“A fair few players stepped up from the lower grades and Colts, and they know what the Club is all about. We had Joey (Fowler) come in straight out of school, and he’s learnt what the winning environment is like now,” Allen told Rugby Explorer’s, Jim Tucker.
“The Australian Club Championship is an incredible product. I’d like to see the top four Sydney and top four Brisbane clubs going at it in a competition after their respective grand finals. You play three or four games and then a final for the trophy. Club rugby is the heartbeat of rugby in Australia.”
Coach Hill said the players had spent a lot of time working on fitness and it showed in the closing stages. “Joey and Jullien (Calliol) were both at school last year, so for them to get this experience is terrific in a match that has real meaning for our club,” he said.
With a Club Championship under their belt, Sydney University are now preparing for the 2023 Shute Shield. They’ll meet Northern Suburbs at North Sydney Oval in Round 1 on Saturday, April 1.