BUNGENDORE Tigers president Tony Rayner says the club’s growing success in the junior ranks is fuelling ambitions of one day fielding sides in the Canberra Raiders Cup first grade competition.
But Rayner admits the financial realities of such a move remain a daunting barrier for the club.
Bungendore has steadily been building its junior base in recent years and that effort has begun to pay dividends with the club claiming the Zone 2 under-18s title last weekend.
The Tigers’ 28-18 defeat of the Tuggeranong Bushrangers in Sunday’s decider marked the first time Bungendore has taken out the under-18s division.
The club also progressed to the semi-final stage in the under-16s while lifting the premiership trophy in the under-15s
The Tigers currently field 11 junior sides in the Canberra competition along with the club’s senior team which competes successfully in the regional George Tooke Shield.
But while graduating a side to the first-grade ranks is the next step in Bungendore’s progression, Rayner says such a move is, at best, several years down the track.
“It’s something that would be at least three to five years away but that’s the idea,” he said. “It’s definitely something that has been thought about [by the club].
“The biggest thing is obviously the money side of things. With what the other Canberra Raiders Cup sides are spending, that’s always going to be a challenge for us to match.
“I’d like to say I was confident that it’s something we could do but I’m certainly not over confident about it…we’d have to raise the money first from somewhere.”
According to Rayner, the minimum budget to field sides in the Canberra Raiders Cup first and reserve grade competitions would be at least $130,000 a year – far in excess of what the Tigers are currently able to spend.
Unlike Queanbeyan’s two rugby league clubs the Blues and the Kangaroos, the Tigers do not have the financial backing of a League’s Club to help support their football program.
And in a town of a little over 2000 people, the Tigers’ commercial opportunities through sponsorships are also limited in comparison to those of bigger Canberra clubs like Tuggeranong.
Such long-term thoughts however, were far from the minds of Bungendore supporters last Sunday as the Tigers hung on for what was a breakthrough under-18s title.
After jumping out to an early 16-0 lead, Bungendore was on the back foot for much of the second half as the Bushrangers pulled to within two points late in the match.
But it was the Tigers who had the final say as Canberra Raiders junior Josh Chudleigh crossed in the shadow of full-time to secure the result for Bungendore.
Canberra Raiders Cup under-18s, grand final: Bungendore Tigers 28 (Kenworthy, Rayner, Wheeler, Sullivan, Pryor and Chudleigh tries; Sullivan 2 goals) bt Tuggeranong Bushrangers 18 at Seiffert Oval.