It is the dream of many rugby players to play rugby overseas, where better than one of the oldest playing nations, Australia. The country has beautiful scenery, pristine beaches and plenty of sunshine! It’s the perfect place to play rugby. This article will explain how to move to Australia to play rugby.
It is worth noting that there is less money involved in the amateur game in Australia compared to its counterparts in the UK or France for example. What there may not be in financial reward is made up for in the level of competition. A season or two in Australia will put you in an excellent position when returning to your home country.
The opportunity to play with some of the best players in the southern hemisphere on fast paced pitches will no doubt take your game to the next level. I can safely say that I’m a much better player than when I arrived in Australia 2 years ago.
Although rugby union isn’t the most popular sport in Australia it is still fiercely competitive amongst those who play. Fans and players of the code are passionate about the rich history of rugby in Australia.
Where to Play
First things first – you need to decide where you want to play and live. This can be quite a daunting task as Australia is a massive country with lots of rugby teams. I will briefly explain the main rugby regions in Australia but some of your own research will still be required to find an individual club.
If you’re looking to play the top level of amateur rugby in Australia you need to start your search at the country’s cities. Arguably the highest level of competition is found in Sydney, New South Wales (Shute Shield) and Brisbane, Queensland (Queensland Premier Rugby). But Melbourne, Canberra, Hobart and Perth also have strong leagues.
New South Wales (NSW) is home to the oldest team in Australia and this illustrious history continues today. A popular rugby region, centres around its capital Sydney and the Shute Shield competition. There are currently 11 clubs that compete for the trophy in Sydney.
If you’re looking for an amateur club in the Sydney area look no further than the New South Wales Suburban Rugby Union, known as ‘subbies’. With over 55 clubs across 6 divisions, it will be easy to find your next team here.
For players who want to be away from the big smoke there are plenty of other options in NSW. There are 9 zones from the Far South Coast to the Far North Coast, with over 100 clubs available to choose from.
Queensland (QLD) is on par with NSW as a big rugby state. The Queensland Premier Rugby league plays host to 8 Brisbane based teams and one from the Gold Coast.
Just like in NSW, there are also suburban leagues in QLD based around Brisbane city. These clubs offer opportunities to players not wanting to play at the highest level to experience Australian city life.
If you want a more rural experience of the sunshine state there are clubs up and down QLD waiting to hear from you. In the south of the state, the Gold Coast offers a mix of beach and city life with a tough rugby competition to go with it. Or why not head up to the Sunshine Coast for a relaxed beach lifestyle to go alongside your training and matches?
Rugby in Other States
While there aren’t as many competitions in other Australian states there is still ample opportunity to play rugby. The Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria all have premier divisions based around their capital cities. With a number of leagues in suburban areas and beyond.
There really is a club in every corner of the country so don’t let the process overwhelm you. It’s simpler than you may think to move to Australia to play rugby.
Once you’ve picked a location, get in contact with clubs in the area you like the look of. Have a chat with them and see what they have to offer. You should get a good feel of whether it’s a potential match and can take the next necessary steps. I would advise speaking to a number of teams to get a feel of your options, you have a big decision to make. You need to do your research and make sure the area suits you. If you’re not a fan of cities then picking a team in Sydney probably isn’t wise!
If you haven’t got the time to research and find your own club, there is another option. There are a number of companies that specialise in matching players and clubs from all over the world. They will ask where you want to be located so it is still important to find out where you think you could live.
When to Travel
The season in Australia begins in March, most pre season training will commence in January but some clubs may start before Christmas. If you’re organising your time away well in advance then you will be able to ask your individual club about when training starts. It’s worth deciding if you want to do some travelling before the season starts, whether that be in Australia or elsewhere in the world. If you have the time, I highly recommend stopping off in Asia for a few months.
How to get an Australian Visa and Book Your Flights.
If you are from outside of New Zealand, you will need a visa to move to Australia to play rugby, live and work. Depending on where you are from I suggest the working holiday visa (417) or the work and holiday visa (462). Both visas let you stay for 12 months in Australia and work to help fund your stay. The cost of the visas are $485 (AUD) and some clubs may help you financially with this – it’s always worth asking. You will also need to prove you have an extra $5,000 (AUD) to support yourself for your initial stay. Have a quick look on the Australian Immigration website to find out which visa you need.
If you wish to stay for a second year, don’t forget you’ll need to plan to complete 3 months of regional work.
With many of the top club teams also being university sides, another option could be to study and play in Australia. To do this you’ll need a student visa.
Once you’ve applied for a visa it will be time to book your flights! Do your research online and try to find the best deal. It is also worth speaking to a travel agent, especially if you want to discuss doing other travel.
Insurance & Rugby Medical Cover
You will need to get international clearance from both the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the union you currently play in. This was something I didn’t know, but is a straightforward process so don’t panic. You can do this once you arrive at your new club, but it’s always helpful to get the forms signed before you leave. Registration to the ARU is mandatory but this does mean that you are covered by insurance at training and matches.
Outside of rugby I would advise registering for Medicare when you arrive in Australia, this is a free healthcare service for tourists from certain countries. You don’t want a hefty bill if something goes wrong!
For those of you unable to access free health care, travel insurance is recommended. However, this can be expensive so be sure to look around for the best deals.
Getting a job
It’s important you get a job whilst you’re away to be able to financially support yourself for the entire season. You don’t want to be caught short at the clubhouse bar after a game!
Many clubs will help you and may already have a job lined up for you, that’s great! If not, make sure you’ve got an updated resume handy. It may be worth sending off some applications before you leave but it’s not necessary as you’ll be able to quickly find a job once you arrive.
To start a new job you’ll need an Australian bank account to be paid into. Personally, I’d recommend doing this within your first week just to get it out of the way.
What are you waiting for?
There are rugby clubs the length and breadth of Australia eagerly awaiting new players. If you’re sure that you want to move to Australia to play rugby, then start researching which region you want to live in. Decide whether you want to be in the city or a bit further out and start contacting clubs. Then begin to tick off the admin tasks listed above that will get you ready and set to go. Start with our blog page or Australia location page and go from there.