The Australian Rugby Championship - What Were They Thinking?

In the Rugby world one thing you can always rely on is that it’s never too late to revive a contentious issue. So in this spirit of flogging a dead horse, the Rolling Maul is turning its attention this week to the Australian Rugby Championship (ARC).

For those not in the know, the ARC was invented to bridge the gap between club level rugby and Super 14 level, sort of a similar level to New Zealand’s NPC and South Africa’s Currie Cup. The reasoning goes that by providing a higher level of regular professional rugby for fringe Wallabies and top club talent, ultimately all Australian Rugby would benefit; the standard of play would improve, fans would come streaming through the gate, Melbourne would stop whining about missing out on a Super 14 team, TV ratings would go through the roof, the Wallabies would win every World Cup, League players would scramble for a piece of the action and Rugby Union would rule the planet. Or something like that.

The leather patches in old club land didn’t like it (old club land being the slowly decaying inner city clubs that have produced thousands of Wallabies for millennia but we drive big kiddie crushing cars and live in expensive houses so we know what we’re talking about). The flannels in new club land need the cash so love it (new club land being the slowly decaying clubs in Sydney’s and Brisbane’s suburbs and fringes that constitute millions of people that barely know Rugby is played around the corner but represent ‘potential’ and ‘the future’).

The eight teams have been announced with the rationale as below (direct from their websites and press releases – with comments from me):

The Sydney Fleet: Fleet conjures images of strength and tradition. The colours and logo quite deliberately echo the great Sydney teams of past years and will bring a sense of history to the future of the competition (I love a team that can invent its tradition before the competition has even started).

Central Coast Rays: The natural landscape has been the inspiration for the naming of the Central Coast Rays. The name and logo echo the strong maritime presence of the team's catchment area (Can’t imagine why Central Coast Zimmer Frames or Central Coast Goons was rejected – FYI Spike Milligan was Woy Woy’s most famous resident. He described Woy Woy as the world’s only above ground cemetery).

Western Sydney Rams: Western Sydney's pioneering past has been the inspiration for the name of the Western Sydney Rams. The Rams name and logo was decided upon for its connection to the history of New South Wales as a colony, when settlers such as John and Elizabeth Macarthur started the Australian sheep and wool industry on their farm at Parramatta (funny that they make no mention of ugg boots).

Ballymore Tornadoes: The team name was designed to represent the team's ambitions and location (well derr). When we take the field as the Tornadoes we expect to be forceful, destructive, and to leave damage in our wake (sounds like the team on their post-season trip).

East Coast Aces (QLD): Aces are winners and that's our goal from the start of the championship (And in the spirit of the Super 14 there is a team whose name gives you no idea where they’re from. Gold Coast in case you were wondering. And no, Aces has nothing to do with casinos or gambling on the future of Australian Rugby with the ARC).

Perth Spirit: The name and logo are readily identifiable as West Australian and was easily aligned with the Western Force brand. Just as Force taps into the natural elements that have shaped WA, the word Spirit is strong, powerful and dynamic, and reflects the independent, open-minded and entrepreneurial way West Aussies approach things (expect Alan Bond to lead the supporters club).

Melbourne Rebels: Like the great Weary Dunlop, Victorian rugby has a history of daring to be different, a touch of the larrikin, and always having a go. These qualities are what you want in a Rebel and characterise the way Victoria is successfully tackling this historic year. (My mate in Melbourne says the logo is reminiscent of Big M flavoured milk. My tip for the wooden spoon. Would suit my mate – he’s a Carlton supporter – and a Waratahs supporter for that matter).

Canberra Somethings: Not announced but will probably be the Vikings. Any other suggestions? How about the Bureaucrats or the Roundabouts?

So what about the comp itself? Well I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and it comes down to this. Too much Rugby is never enough. Bring it on.

What do you think of the comp or of any of the teams or logos?


Maul-burnian said…
Sheesh, they're very slick-looking aren't they?

As you say, Sydney Fleet's logo looks the most traditional, with the Aces' badge also looking semi-traditional.

I reckon, in order to get a real grass-roots vibe happening, this new comp should do away with the modern synthetic jerseys, and go back to the old-fashioned fibres. You know, the sort that doubled your body weight whenever they got wet. Can there be any more magical sight in sport than a team trudging off the field in the rain, covered in mud, with the bottom of their jerseys stretched to below their knees?
Saviour said…
Go the RAYS, they can easily out manouver a weather system. Tornadoes may have the power over sheep (RAMs), watch them cower in the wind, not a lot of good a FLEET (or 200 years old sailing vessels) can do in a Tornado and a playing Card (ACE) will just get whipped up by the wind and placed in a tree miles away.

But the big clash (we wait in earnest) will be the FLEET vs the VIKINGS!

I don't rate the SPIRIT, need an explanation of what one looks like.