HISTORICAL AWARD: Brisbane City captain David McDuling and Queensland Country vice-captain Greg Holmes with The Andy Purcell Cup at Ballymore Stadium.
HISTORICAL AWARD: Brisbane City captain David McDuling and Queensland Country vice-captain Greg Holmes with The Andy Purcell Cup at Ballymore Stadium. Qld Rugby Union

Qld derby close to Allora prop’s heart

SUNDAY'S National Rugby Championship Queensland derby will take on added significance for Allora's Greg Holmes.

Holmes will pack down in the front-row for Queensland Country against Brisbane City at Ballymore in what will be the first Queensland derby in the fledgling NRC competition.

Both teams will be playing for state supremacy, a rivalry which dates back to 1902 when Country took on City as part of the QRU's Country Week carnival.

They will also be competing for the inaugural Andy Purcell Cup which is named in honour of the quality player, referee, coach and administrator from the Darling Downs.

That is plenty of incentive for fellow Darling Downs talent Holmes to play well for Queensland Country.

"The City v Country rivalry is a long-standing one and the introduction of the Andy Purcell Cup adds a new chapter to the history between the two sides," Holmes, the Queensland Country vice captain, said.

"Andy Purcell was influential in Darling Downs rugby and played a major role in establishing the Queensland Country Rugby Union.

"Coming from the Darling Downs myself, the introduction of this trophy adds more meaning to the match and I know the team will be up for the challenge."

Queensland Rugby Union chairman Rod McCall thought the trophy was a great tribute to Purcell, who died last year.

"City versus Country clashes in Queensland have always been played with plenty of passion and this inaugural NRC contest promises to be no different as both teams head toward the business end of the season," McCall said.

"Andy Purcell spent a lifetime connected to rugby in this state as both a Queensland and a club player, a referee, selector, coach and administrator.

"Andy is a great example of somebody whose rugby relationships overlapped the country and city environments and he would have been a big fan of this NRC competition and the wider philosophy underpinning it."

There is a bit of history in the trophy itself as the QRU has resurrected the silverware used for the XXXX Cup, which was established in 1978.

The man behind the trophy

Andy Purcell first played rugby union at Toowoomba's St Mary's College.

He moved to Brisbane to play for University of Queensland and earned four caps for the state during that time.

Purcell finished his playing career back on the Darling Downs with Millmerran.

He was then a referee on the Downs from 1963-69 and also played a big role in the establishment of the Toowoomba Rangers club.

Purcell went on to be a selector of Queensland Country and coached the team for two years and was also a Darling Downs coach, who was last month named coach of the Risdon Cup 50 years team.

In 1986 he was awarded life membership of Queensland Rugby Union and was president of Queensland Country Rugby Union.



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