2017 Blue Ribbon Cup Match
The on-field showpiece of the 2017 NRL Victoria Harmony Festival on Saturday is the 6th annual Blue Ribbon Cup match.
The Blue Ribbon Cup match is played to honour and commemorate those that have lost their lives in the line of duty. Unfortunately, that number sits at 157.
The match will take place between the Victoria Police Vikings and the Wodonga Storm. For the first three years of the cup, the Vikings took on Ararat Devils which was started to help the Victorian Police field a side and stay active, but also give those in Western Victoria a chance to play more rugby league.
Victoria leads the way in such a game, with this Cup being the only annual Police Rugby League cup match in the country.
For the past three years, the Wodonga Storm has stepped into the fray and taken on the Vikings for the cup.
Wodonga’s Ryan Dodd spoke about how much a privilege it is for the players to take part in something that means so much to the Victoria Police group. Dodd also mentioned that the Storm enjoy taking part in the game as it’s played in such a physical yet fair fashion.
The Vikings have taken the cup home on 4 of the last 5 occasions, yet with Damien Scott and Clay Sawaki being two Wodonga players that have competed since the first Wodonga cup participation, the Storm will be looking to hit back and win the 2017 edition.
Victoria Police’s Barry Randall spoke about the match and what the match means to the Police side. “In their job, the police rely on each other; this game gives them the opportunity to step away from that stress through sport”. Randall also touched on the fact that the match is played in the spirit of friendship, comradeship whilst also promoting health and fitness.
The Victoria Police Rugby League side not only offers participants to play in this one off cup match, but there is an opportunity for Victoria Police to represent the Affiliated States and Territories Police side. Each season that side take on NSW Police and QLD Police in a tri-series.
From the tri-series, the best players are selected to represent the Australian Police Rugby League side. The Australia Police side then goes on to tour and play matches each year.
The Vice-Captain of the current Australian team who this week beat Fiji in Fiji as the curtain raiser to the Kangaroos v Fiji RLWC friendly is Viking Brendan Williams. Brendan who is a Senior Constable with the Dog Squad has a strong resume having played for the Noosa Pirates in the QRL as well as strong English club Hemel Hempstead in the UK Championship League. Brendan is also the Captain of the Affiliated States & Territories Police Storm RL team who are sponsored by the Melbourne Storm.
Since 1999 (Vikings Rugby League Side) the club has had a number of players selected in the Australian Police Rugby League team who have played international matches in Australia and overseas. The Vikings have also had a few duel internationals that have also played for the Australian Police Rugby Union team. Sergeant Barry Randall, the Vikings Club President and founder of the Blue Ribbon Cup concept was the first Victoria Police member ever selected to the Australian team in 1999 when he toured the USA. That tour led to an opportunity to take leave without pay from the police force to return to the USA as player-coach of the New Jersey Sharks in the USA Super League in 2000. Barry then went on to play in the UK in 2001 for the Oxford Cavaliers and the London Broncos in the English Super League.
In what is such a great cause and occasion, make sure you get down to Casey Fields on Saturday to support both the Victoria Police Vikings and the Wodonga Storm!