Rugby at Mitchelton State High School started off back in 2018, introduced by coach Suraj Jayasiriwardena. Suraj has an incredible passion for the sport and with many years coaching in both Australia and the UK under his belt, he recognizes the importance of giving students an outlet.
Upon the introduction of the Rugby clinics, there was a very slow response, with only four participants attending. However, with the support from previous Principal, Shelly Bampton, and then by Principal John Searle, he perservered with the program.
The Rugby clinics were open to all students, but it was the boys that consistently attended training. Sessions were held three times a week and numbers steadily grew. Suraj decided to have a ‘friendly’ opposed session against Kelvin Grove State College and he recalls beating them 50 – 0 on a Friday afternoon in late July 2018.
‘We had students with good skill sets and the boys were learning the rules of the game quickly so we ended up entering three tournaments that year at Caloundra, Caboolture and then the Ballymore 7’s tournament,’ recalls Suraj.
With these tournaments under their belt, the Mitchelton SHS team was now on the map within the rugby circles. They won their pool at Caboolture that year but their most famous win was against Canterbury College – a private school that boasted many rugby teams. That win against them at the Ballymore 7’s was one of their first ‘big’ wins.
In 2019, with John back at the helm, the school acquired rugby posts and the Mitchie Oval was transformed – Mitchelton SHS was now a school of Rugby – a dream Suraj had long held!
Throughout 2019, the profile of Rugby was raised within the community and a new culture at Mitchelton SHS came to life, so Suraj started thinking about a team name.
‘I thought about the essence of Mitchie as a small school that took on much larger schools in competition,’ he reminisces. ‘I came up with the idea of calling ourselves the Mitchie Spartans as it mirrored the warrior like spirit needed to overcome the adversities faced in rugby.’
With a team name in place, a logo for the new jerseys, alongside a Mascot for the school, the stage was set for the Spartans first ever Rugby Carnival and local derby against Kelvin Grove! They had two teams playing, an U15 boys and an Open Boys team. Mr Searle even gave the green light to forego lesson four of that Wednesday afternoon so that all the students from the school could gather on the oval to support the two teams. It was a wonderful spectacle as the Spartan cheers were echoing around the oval with both teams being tunnelled out by students. Both teams secured wins that day marking the birth of the Mitchie Cup!
This year, the team has excelled with the Mitchie Spartans making it to their first ever Grand Final for the U15 age group.
Bray Park stood before them in the Grand Final and it was reported that it was similar to a ‘David vs Goliath’ situation as many of the players from the opposing team were bigger than adults! Nevertheless, in true Spartan style, the team were courageous to the end. However, the constant pressure and the fatigue eventually took its toll on the Spartans as they went down 33 – 10 to Bray Park.
Nevertheless, Suraj could not have been more pleased with his teams efforts.
‘We did so well to get two tries on them, I was such a proud coach,’ said Suraj.
Next year, the Spartans are looking to field a girls team for the first time as they continue to grow. This is Spartan Rugby!!