The careers of Steve Larkham and Marco Caputo have been intertwined over the years, with club rugby in Canberra the platform for their later success.
They played against each other at club level. They also both played for the Kookaburras, then the Brumbies and the Wallabies. They both made their test debuts in the same year.
Steve and Marco then played and coached overseas before returning to coaching roles at the Brumbies.
Now they are back together. That togetherness is in the guise of a trophy named in their honour, to be contested between the two clubs with which they have long connections, Wests and Gungahlin.
Alongside this link, the Larkham Caputo Trophy has emerged through the support of Ray White Canberra as a sponsor of both clubs.
Marco Caputo, who played five tests for the Wallabies before taking up coaching, had two successful stints as the Gungahlin Eagles head coach. He says the trophy name is a great honour.
“It was quite unexpected and a great honour to have my name associated with the trophy. Sometimes you get caught up in the week to week, and to have a game that has extra significance, I think, is a really good thing. I know the players enjoy these marquee games.”
Marco has deeper memories of the club, well before his connection as a club coach.
“I remember coming back and playing four or five games for the Eagles after surgery before heading back to play in France in 2001/2002. I look back on those four or five games in the John I Dent Cup as some of the most enjoyable of my career.”
Steve Larkham, the current Brumbies head coach, started at Wests Lions when he was nine. He still has a strong affiliation with his junior club.
“Dad always played for Wests, and we were always surrounded by like-minded people from the club. A lot of kids I played with became really good family friends. I first played senior rugby with Wests in 1993 and we won the John I Dent Cup.”
This was the beginning for one of the greatest Wallabies, who finished his career with 102 tests.
“The inter-club rivalry is something that is very important,” Steve says. “I grew up in an era when there was a strong rivalry at a club level.”
Former Eagles player and now the Chairman of Ray White Canberra, Ben Faulks, says the trophy presents an opportunity to shine the spotlight on club rugby and to help create new content to promote the game.
“Rugby is a game for all and there is something unique about the camaraderie and friendships which grassroots rugby creates. Hopefully, this initiative might help not only the Eagles and Wests increase engagement with the members, but also start other conversations in the rugby community about how we keep moving the game forward.”
The Gungahlin Eagles and Wests will play each other three times this season to see who will win the Ray White-sponsored Larkham Caputo Trophy in 2023. Catch them at Jamison Oval on Saturday, 20 May. Kick-off at 3:15 pm.
Original Article published by Tim Gavel on Riotact.