In support of the top flight Brumbies team, the ACT XV have announced their schedule for the 2012 season with the regular fixtures against Pacific Island A teams highlighting the calendar.
Opening with the final trial match of the pre-season, the ACT XV squad will face the full-strength Brumbies team at Viking Park on 16 February.
The understudies will be facing up against the fulltime squad with the chance to outshine their opposite man and make a name for themselves on the big stage.
Head Coach Nick Leah said it was a massive occasion for his players, many of whom have floated on the edges of professional rugby over the last five years.
“This is a good opportunity for the boys to play against a professional team,” Leah said.
“There are a lot of guys in that team who have been great servants to ACT rugby, they’ve played quality rugby in the past – Aussie sevens, aged grade Australian rep teams and Canberra Vikings and it’s a great chance for these guys to test themselves against some of the best players in Australia.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to play against guys who will represent them on an international stage.
“Hopefully moving forward this can be a traditional fixture and has a positive impact on both the Brumbies and ACT rugby.”
Moving away from the previous set up where players have come from Sydney to represent the ACT based side, selections will be made strictly from the John I Dent Cup competition encouraging local growth.
Should Sydney players want to be considered for the ACT XV they must make the move to a Canberra club. There will be no exceptions to this rule.
Head Coach Jake White said it was good for the future of rugby in Canberra to have the best players propping up the John I Dent Cup.
"The John I Dent Cup is already one of the strongest club competitions in Australia and giving the best players a chance to test themselves against the Brumbies is only going to make it stronger," White said.
"We want Canberra to be a hub for Australian rugby, somewhere the best players come to learn and become even better players.
“It’s all part of the plan to bring rugby in Canberra back up to where it should be.”
Following the match against the Brumbies, the ACT XV will face the Samoan, Tongan and Fijian A teams on their way to the regular in-season fixtures.
The ACT XV face Samoa A on February 24 as a curtain raiser for the Brumbies v Force season opener, before taking on Fiji A on 28 February and Tonga A on 4 March.
The clashes against Fiji and Tonga will both be played at Viking Park, Wanniassa.
16-Feb-12 ACT XV v Brumbies Viking Park TBC
24-Feb-12 ACT XV v Samoa Canberra Stadium 5:15pm
28-Feb-12 ACT XV v Fiji Viking Park TBC
04-Mar-12 ACT XV v Tonga Viking Park TBC