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16 April 2010

Ipswich Rugby Union on a roll: Teams in Ipswich, Goodna, Springfield Lakes and Gatton in 2010

IPSWICH'S status as a rugby league town could be under threat,  with local rugby union clubs well and truly on a roll.

STRONG UNION: Goodna and Ipswich fight out the
opening round of the 2010 Barber Cup recently.
Both clubs are fielding an extra senior team this season.


IPSWICH'S status as a rugby league town could be under threat.

Never has the region fielded as many senior teams, with Ipswich Rangers (four), Goodna (two), Springfield Lakes (two) and Gatton (two) involved in the Brisbane Sub-districts competitions this year.

"There is a massive boom of rugby in Ipswich," Rangers club president Damian Roche said.

Roche puts it down in part to the rejuvenation of the state side, the Reds in the Super 14 competition.

"A lot of people are talking about union around the workplace," he said.

The other factor is the hard work put in by volunteers like Roche to run clubs well and make them attractive to players.
"We've instilled professionalism at the club," he said.

"With proper medical staff and strength and conditioning trainer. Plus there is our push into the Brisbane competition."

Rangers hope to be playing in the Brisbane grade competition next season, rather than the sub-districts competitions they currently contest against the other Ipswich region teams.

With Ipswich Rugby League clubs increasingly looking outside the area for new talent the mungos are also giving the union clubs a boost, with Rangers fielding six former leagies this season.

Population growth is another factor in the growing popularity of rugby in Ipswich and it is something the Queensland Rugby Union has taken notice of.

"As long as Ipswich keeps growing the number of teams and quality will keep growing as well," Roche said.

"I think Ipswich is developing into a significant rugby region."

Roche for one welcomes the competition from the likes of Springfield Lakes and Goodna.

"For us as a club it is great to see other clubs developing and local derbies are brilliant."

The QRU has been instrumental getting the Springfield Lakes club up and running and has helped professionalise Rangers, contributing to their junior academy and holding regular training sessions at Woodend

QRU general manager of community rugby David Hanham described the number of teams from Ipswich as "fantastic".

"Lachlan Parkinson, the development officer (and Rangers director of rugby) has been supporting the region, which has had a significant impact," Hanham said.

"And the junior Reds squad has provided opportunities for kids to stay in the area."

The QRU began working with Springfield Lakes three years ago when they established their junior club, getting into schools to promote rugby and working with developer Delfin to provide infrastructure.

Goodna, the strongest of the Ipswich teams in recent years may seem to have missed out.

However, Hanham said the QRU was currently auditing club rugby and would actively help clubs in need of improved facilities, like Goodna, to obtain government funding.

Hanham said the next step in turning Ipswich into a rugby region would be trying to get traditional rugby league schools to participate in seven-a-side competitions to give them a taste for the game.

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