|Date founded 1995|
Union Australian Rugby Union
|President Rodney Eade|
|Location Canberra, Australian Capital Territory|
Ground(s) Portsea Oval, RMC Duntroon
Coach(es) Gary Kinnane, Jason Smith
Region Australian Capital Territory
The ACT Vets are a rugby union team based in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), whose players must be 35 years of age or older. Portsea Oval, at the Royal Military College, Duntroon is the club's home ground.
The Honorary Patron in Chief of the club is General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General of Australia. Other Honorary Patrons are Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston and Vice Admiral Ray Griggs. General David Hurley, Governor of New South Wales, is the club's Supporter.
John Hillier was captain/coach of the Canberra Royals 5th Grade team in 1994 and, at the age of 34, was getting tired of running with much younger players and decided to establish a club for older players who still wanted to play rugby but did not want to be involved in grade competitions. The Evergreens, a Canberra Golden Oldies team, was only formed every three to four years to play in international Golden Oldies tournaments. Hillier felt there was a need to have a regular schedule of games to keep players involved in the sport in their post grade-competition years. With the assistance of Wests Lions and the Queanbeyan Whites, Hillier developed plans for a regular game schedule for a new veterans’ rugby team.
The ACT Veterans Rugby team played its first game at O’Connor Oval in March 1995. More than thirty players turned up for the first game together with many officers from the Royal Military College, Duntroon (RMC). It was the start of a new co-operative relationship with the RMC that has remained ever since. Given the large numbers for the first game, it was decided to form three teams playing each other over three 20 minute periods. The tradition of the three ‘halves’ has continued on. The early games also established other rules of Veterans Rugby, like no pushing in scrums but contested line-outs, rucks and mauls. This schedule of games at O’Connor Oval with RMC continued through the 1995 and 1996 seasons and in 1997, at the invitation of RMC, the ACT Veterans moved to Portsea Oval which has been the club’s home ground ever since. Hillier was president of the club for 21 years.
Journalist, Chris Dutton, described the club as "the most powerful rugby club in Australia" in his 27 March 2014 article in the Canberra Times. "World Cup winners, rugby league legends, politicians and Defence Force chiefs - meet the most powerful rugby team in Australia: the ACT Veterans", he wrote.
Colours and Logo
The ACT Veterans Rugby Club competition jersey colours are Royal Blue, White, Gold, Sky Blue, Maroon, Red, Black and Myrtle Green. These are the colours of the eight senior rugby clubs that existed when the Vets were formed in 1995. Navy blue, white and gold, the Brumbies traditional colours, were chosen for the shorts. The Vets logo is also an adaption of the Brumbies logo and shows their close affiliation with the Brumbies, Canberra and southern NSW region's Super Rugby team. Brumbies wild horses inhabit Canberra's hinterland.
The club plays most games, including a curtain-raiser for the Brumbies every year, to generate sponsorship and donate to their charities. They have raised well over $250,000 for charities including Legacy, Soldier On, the George Gregan Foundation, Menslink, Clare Holland House, the Heart Foundation, the Pediatrics Unit of the Canberra Hospital and Snowy Hydro SouthCare with the help of their sponsors.