SRU confirms 2020 Shute Shield season to begin with grand final replay between Uni & Rats

By Mark Cashman

The 2020 Shute Shield competition is scheduled to kick off on Saturday July 25 with the blockbuster grand final replay between Sydney Uni and Warringah at Rat Park the shining light of the first round of games.

The full season draw is expected to be released some time next week but it is hard to see the Covid-19 affected competition starting any earlier than July 25 when you factor in the need to have a good two weeks of scrums and contact work along with one trial.

Uni came from behind to overwhelm the Rats 21-16 at Bankwest Stadium so the scene is set for the classic revenge encounter.

“At the moment we don’t have an official start date but the July 25 seems to be the most logical weekend to get things underway,” Sydney Rugby Union president Phil Parson reported.

“There is some talk that we may be able to get full contact training underway before July 1 but with that we are in the hands of NSW Health.

“It’s been quite a journey for us all but it will be great to get our teams out on the field and playing some rugby.

“There is still some heavy lifting to do but playing some rugby is a real sign that things are starting to turn with the Coronavirus and our many clubs out there will get an obvious benefit in a community and economic sense.”

Clubs will nominate as many teams as possible through grade and colts but will only be required to field first and reserve grade as well as first grade colts.

Penrith and Newcastle have been invited to submit teams with the Emus already working hard under their new coach John Muggleton, the man who took care of defence when the Wallabies last won the Rugby World Cup in 1999.

An interesting addition to their training group in recent weeks has been former Test forward Wycliff Palu.

The 58-Test backrower also played 134 games for the NSW Waratahs and has in recent times been playing in Japan as he winds down his career.

Under the SRU’s points cap system both Newcastle and Penrith are nudging 100 points.

When you consider reigning premiers Sydney Uni generally sit between 90 and 100 points, you’d suggest the new teams are not just there to make up the numbers.