Next generation to benefit from oval upgrade
IN A town mad about rugby league it's a breath of fresh air to see the 15-a-side code get a chance to shine.
Rugby union in Gladstone will be boosted later this year when Marley Brown Oval hosts a National Rugby Championship game between rivals Brisbane City and Queensland Country.
The NRC is contested by seven teams from around Australia plus one from Fiji and is considered the next step down from the Super Rugby competition.
It offers players contracted to Rugby Australia a chance to play further into the year once the Super Rugby season wraps up.
Gladstone Rugby Union committee member Anthony Groen-int-woud said the NRC often opens doors for players to sneak into the Wallabies' set up.
"It's certainly above club rugby and we're already seeing the players who have made it into Super Rugby and into the Wallabies have come through that NRC pathway,” Mr Groen-int-woud said.
Mr Groen-int-woud said Gladstone Rugby Union would try to leverage off the NRC game, whether that be via coaching clinics or other events.
"We're currently exploring the opportunities and also working with our governing body, Rugby Capricornia Ltd, having discussions with them at the moment to see whether we can coordinate one of the Brahmans games as a curtain raiser,” he said.
"We'd also look at opportunities to get the kids involved as much as possible.”
It's hoped the NRC game, likely to be played in September, will feature a large contingent of Queensland Reds players with many of them looking for extra match practice ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan later that month.
"It's a world cup year so hopefully with that being a precursor to this we'll see quite a lot of exposure for rugby at the time,” Mr Groen-int-woud said.
"We should see some people out of the Wallabies squad or certainly from the Super Rugby teams will definitely be making an appearance.
"To get such a marque derby is going to be a big thing for us with the two Queensland sides playing.”
Mr Groen-int-woud said the opportunity for the Gladstone Goats to step out onto a reconfigured Marley Brown Oval in a few seasons' time would be fantastic.
"The facility is great at the moment but to see the expansion and what it may bring to town will be a real buzz round the place,” he said.
"I think council should be commended - anything that can get these athletes and role models into town as often as what they're planning to do is going to be a wonderful thing for the children of Gladstone.”