This 2017 season coincidentally starts with our ANZAC Round – with the 2016 Grand Finalists, Old Collegians and Onkaparinga, competing for the ANZAC Trophy at the Premiership wining club’s home ground.

The 2016 Premier Grade final was a thriller; Onkaparinga scored an early try but momentum then swung to Old Collegians for the remainder of the half. In the second half, fortunes switched; Old Colls managed only one try as Onkaparinga found their stride. The result was in doubt right up until the final whistle: Old Collegians won 27-24.

The 2017 ANZAC Match is not only a replay of the 2016 final but a replay of the 2016 ANZAC Match; then Onkaparinga hosted Old Collegians in a night game. Old Colls were victorious in that game too and it set up a successful season.

Both captains are confident of their team’s preparation. Jack Campion, of Old Collegians: “We have again had an extremely physical pre-season leading into the 2017 season. We will look to utilise our fitness to play a fast flowing game. We have a leadership group that has played in a few of these games now allowing us to remain focused. But with a fresh young group around us we will look to take this game on with an exciting brand of rugby.”

Onkaparinga made the final of the 2017 Preseason Cup after some good performances, beating Old Collegians in the round stages of the competition. Onkaparinga Premier Grade captain Troy Doughty: “We should do well come Round 1 as we’ve had a good preseason, preparation has been good and the boys are gelling well and welcomed a few new players in nicely. Preseason gave us a good opportunity to pick up match fitness and was good to test out and play around with a few new combinations. I feel it was good prep for the upcoming season.”

The ANZAC round holds a lot of meaning for all involved: players, officials and spectators. Reflecting on last year’s experience, Doughty said: “I feel it is important as it gives us the opportunity to reflect and pay our respects to all the men and women who gave their lives for our country, also being the Grand Final re-match everyone is up and ready for game, as it’s your first opportunity to make a mark for the season ahead. It gives a bit of extra feeling in the match and everyone lifts that little bit extra and I know there were a lot of sore bodies after last year’s game due to this.”

The emotion surrounding the event cannot be underestimated; not just for the sacrifice and remembrance associated with Anzac Day itself but the elation or pain carried on from last year’s final. “Having friends and relatives that have been and still are involved in the armed services,” said Campion, “I’m humbled by the privilege to be a part of this game.”.

The Michael von Berg Medal, awarded to the player who best exhibits the ANZAC spirit during the match, is highly sought after by all playing.

ANZAC Round re-match: Old Collegians Rugby Club hosts Onkaparinga Rugby Club, Saturday 22nd April, 3,15pm at Tregenza Oval.