SCU Gold Rats Rugby Club

Rodney the Rat, SCU Gold Rats Rugby Club Mascot

The Southern Cross University Rugby Club, the oldest student-run organisation at the University, had its beginning in 1970 under SCU predecessor the Teachers College.

The club continued under the name of College after Teachers College became the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education but was changed to University when the Lismore campus became part of the University of New England-Northern Rivers in 1989.

Student numbers swelled to such an extent that the club actually fielded two first grade sides in the 1990 competition, one named the Gold team and one the Red team. The club reverted to one team in 1991.

When Southern Cross University became enacted in 1994, the rugby club took on the name of the new institution, however, it wasn't until 1995 that the club started playing in the University's colours of blue and gold.

Club legend and teaching academic, Maurie Ryan, was a prominent member of the club and a driving force behind the creation of a playing field at the Lismore campus which now bears his name. The field was opened in 1986 and built with Commonwealth Government grants obtained by the University Union, whose president was Ryan at the time, and money raised by the rugby club. Much of the work of landscaping, drainage, planting of lawns, constructing terraces and stone walls was done by club members. An original clubhouse, where the Uni-bar is now situated was also built.

The club mascot officially became the Gold Rat around 1984 when club stalwart Kevin Barwick convinced a few mates to play because the team was short of numbers during the semester holiday. Barwick's mates lived in a share-house and were known as the swamp rats. Calling out go you rats, soon became go you Gold Rats, because the club's playing strip was gold. From a bit of fun, the mascot was officially adopted.

The Gold Rats have been a successful student-run club during its existence winning 16 premierships across all grades, including four in first grade.

Prominent players to have worn the colours include former Wallaby centre Richard Tombs, former Wallaby second-rower Justin Harrison and former ACT Brumbies backrower and Australian Sevens captain Henry Vanderglas.

A host of players have also been picked to represent NSW Country at open and age levels, while three players - Harrison, Dave Graham and Mark Sherwood - have been selected for Australian Universities. The club has a long list of players who have represented Far North Coast at open and age levels.