Rugby in Greater Shepparton continues to quietly go about its business.
Shepparton Bulls have been producing at a high level in the past few seasons in the Victorian Rugby Union competition, while the Mooroopna Lions’ performances at sevens tournaments has been impressive.
On the back of efforts in club rugby and carnivals, players have gone on to reach higher honours.
Josh Vakasisikakala just returned from a trip to Dubai with the Victorian under-19 Barbarians team.
Vakasisikakala is also a member of the Melbourne Rebels’ under-17 squad.
Bulls star David Koyamaibole has played for Victoria’s senior men’s sevens in a national tournament.
Mosese Baleidrokaroka was also in the squad and played, while Sailasa Madrai was also included as a member but did not feature in a game.
Koyamaibole played in a Victoria Country game with other Bulls players Laitia Vuniwaqa, Jacob Veitarogi, Pou Tuiletufuga, Fili Fili and Patrick Young.
Former Bulls coach Stony Scanlan formed the Mooroopna Lions sevens team in 2010 with Matai Vakasisikakala when there was no other rugby club in Shepparton.
John Roqica and Matai Sitiveni have been coaching the Lions this year.
Scanlan said the Lions were gaining in popularity, but wanted it to get to a stage where the team was made up entirely of local products.
‘‘We started off the touch rugby team in 2010 and then the Bulls came in 2013,’’ Scanlan said.
‘‘We’ve been putting our sevens teams in during October, November and December most years and it’s mostly consisted of players from around Shepparton, but we’ve had to bring in other guys from Melbourne, interstate and some from Fiji to fill the team.’’
The Lions enjoyed some outstanding results in recent Bendigo and Melbourne sevens tournaments, taking it right up to the best.
‘‘We lost in the semi-final to a team that won the final in Melbourne and two weeks later in Bendigo we made it to the final and played the same team again and lost,’’ Scanlan said.
‘‘It’s been a big year for us in getting some of our players recognised to play in representative teams and we’re finding playing in those tournaments is opening doors.
‘‘Our main goal is to build our sevens and touch rugby here in Mooroopna and Shepparton and keep playing in those big tournaments.’’
Scanlan said rugby provided a good pathway for young people and hoped to get as many people into the sport as possible.
‘‘Sports get people away from all the negative stuff in life and we set very high standards within the club, not just for on-field, but also for off-field behaviour which is also important.’’
Scanlan said the Bulls and Steve Vigilaturo had been a massive help to the sevens program at the Mooroopna Lions.