Queensland Rugby Union today announced its two Buildcorp National Rugby Championship teams will compete for The Andy Purcell Cup when they take the field at Ballymore Stadium this Sunday.
McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City and Bond University Queensland Country will play each other for the first time in the NRC this Sunday, 28 September, to re-ignite a more than 100-year rivalry dating back to 1902 when a Queensland Country representative team played Brisbane at the QRU’s Country Week carnival.
While they will be competing for NRC competition points, they will also contest The Andy Purcell Cup, named after the late QRU Life Member who graced the game with more than 50 years of service – first as a player, then a referee, a coach and also as an administrator.
Queensland Rugby Union Chairman Rod McCall said the trophy was a fitting tribute to Purcell, who passed away last year.
“City versus Country clashes in Queensland have always been played with plenty of passion and this inaugural NRC contest promises to be no different, as both teams head toward the business end of the season,” McCall said.
“Andy Purcell spent a lifetime connected to Rugby in this state as both a Queensland and a club player, a referee, selector, coach and administrator. Andy is a great example of somebody whose Rugby relationships overlapped the Country and City environments and he would have been a big fan of this NRC competition and the wider philosophy underpinning it.
“The NRC continues to provide opportunity to exciting young talent, to those on the fringe of Wallabies selection and to experienced players, like Will Genia, who have made their way back to the Wallabies squad through their NRC performances.”
Brisbane City captain David McDuling said his side was looking forward to the chance to take on their Country rivals at Ballymore.
“All the boys have had this match pencilled in their calendar since the schedule was first announced,” McDuling said.
“We always enjoy playing against our Reds teammates in Premier Rugby, so to get a chance to clash in the National Rugby Championship just adds another level to it.
“There’s a great rivalry between City and Country throughout the history of Rugby in Queensland and adding The Andy Purcell Cup for us to compete for makes it that much more special.”
Queensland Country vice-captain Greg Holmes said The Andy Purcell Cup added significance to an already exciting match.
“The City v Country rivalry is a long-standing one and the introduction of The Andy Purcell Cup adds a new chapter to the history between the two sides,” Holmes said.
“Andy Purcell was influential in Darling Downs Rugby and played a major role in establishing the Queensland Country Rugby Union. Coming from the Darling Downs myself, the introduction of this trophy adds more meaning to the match and I know the team will be up for the challenge.”
The Cup itself has some history, as QRU has resurrected the trophy formerly known as the XXXX Cup, which was established in 1978 to help strengthen country Rugby.
It was originally competed for by Brisbane clubs and regional Queensland sides, including Gold Coast, Darling Downs and Rockhampton.
In 1983 the Cup took on a new format, with four regional teams – Brisbane, South Queensland, North Queensland and Central Queensland – competing for it, under a format which continued for five years.
The competition continued to evolve and in 1988 the Brisbane and Queensland Country representative sides competed directly for the Cup for the first time, with Country winning the match 20-17 at Ballymore.
This format continued for a further seven years, with XXXX Cup challenges between Brisbane and Queensland Country, including a curtain raiser before the second British & Irish Lions Test at Ballymore in 1989. The Cup challenges ceased following the advent
of professional Rugby in 1996.
The newly named Andy Purcell Cup will be contested annually by Brisbane City and Queensland Country in the National Rugby Championship, adding extra meaning to every fixture between these two historic sides.
In the lead up to the match, Brisbane City will host an open training session at Ballymore Stadium this Thursday from 5:30pm to 6:30pm, with fans invited to come along to meet the players.
Brisbane City and Queensland Country face off this Sunday, 28 September, at Ballymore Stadium at 3:00pm. As was tradition with matches at Ballymore, spectators will be allowed onto the hallowed turf following the match.
About Andy Purcell
Andy Purcell first played Rugby at St. Mary’s College in Toowoomba, before moving to Brisbane to play for University of Queensland.
It was during his time with UQ that he earned four caps for Queensland.
He finished his playing career on the Darling Downs playing for Millmerran.
He then shifted his focus to refereeing in the Darling Downs competition from 1963 to 1969 and was also instrumental in the establishment of the Toowoomba Rangers Rugby Club.
In 1971, Andy was chosen to be a Queensland Country selector. He went on to coach the representative side from 1974 to 1975.
He also coached Darling Downs for a season in 1972.
He was elected a Life Member of Queensland Rugby Union in 1986.
While serving as Vice-President of Queensland Rugby, Andy was also President of the Queensland Country Rugby Union in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He retired from the role of Queensland Rugby Union Vice-President in 2006.
History of Brisbane City and Queensland Country
The first match between a Queensland Country representative team and Brisbane came when Queensland Rugby Union introduced Country Week carnivals in 1902. Brisbane won the first match narrowly, 16-15.
Since the re-establishment of the Queensland Country Rugby Union in 1965, Brisbane representative sides have been involved in annual competitions with the country unions.
Many of the household names of Australian Rugby such as Mark Loane, Andrew Slack, Tony Shaw, and Michael Lynagh have worn the Brisbane City jersey.
Queensland Country Rugby has produced some of the most well-known names in Queensland Rugby, including Sam Scott-Young (Townsville), Tim Horan (Darling Downs), Jason Little (Darling Downs), Garrick Morgan (Darling Downs) and Peter Grigg (Townsville).
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