The QSRU selects a representative side to play annual matches against NSW Suburban, for the Barraclough Shield. The major "Subbies" trophy is the Barber Cup, awarded to the first grade premiers of the first division.
The Subbies competition has around 1000 players and 20 clubs competing in three divisions, spread across Brisbane spanning from Redcliffe to Beenleigh, and Wynnum to Ipswich. The competition is for amateur players, and provides another tier of rugby below the Brisbane premier club competition.
The earliest predecessors of the sub-districts rugby union in Queensland were the Minor Rugby Union and the Sub-Junior Minor Rugby Union, which were founded in 1888 and 1890 respectively for second and third tier teams.
The Queensland Sub-District Rugby Union was founded in 1964. Mirror Newspapers donated the Sunday Truth Shield for the competition which was contested by nine teams including the Commonwealth Bank, AMP, Bank of New South Wales, and Law Clerks.
The competition was restructured in 1993 to provide a secondary level of rugby under the Brisbane premiership. Strong district and suburban clubs in Brisbane were grouped into a new suburban competition competition sponsored by Coca-Cola. Teams in the competition's inaugural season included Caboolture and Everton Park to the north, Kenmore and Ipswich to the west, Redlands and Wynnum to the east, and Beenleigh and Logan City to the south.
Membership of the Subbies competition grew in the 1990s with an increase in corporate and university sides as well as teams formed by ex-students of schools. The growth in population of Brisbane led to the growth in the number of rugby clubs.
When Coca-Cola's sponsorship ended after the 1998 season, the QSRU administered 47 teams representing 30 clubs in seven grades of competition spread across five divisions. Division I was composed of the Norbert Byrne Cup (1st grade), Geoff R. Pegg Cup (2nd grade), and Robert A. Tuckey Cup (Colts) competitions; with the club championship Sydney Cup awarded based on the best all round performance of the Division I clubs. The lower division competitions were the John Barber Cup (Division II), Edinburgh Cup (Division III), Ian Scotney Cup (Division IV), and Darwin V. Normanby Cup (Division V). A number of Division I clubs, however, had begun to experience problems in fielding a colts (under 20s) side.
From 1999 onwards, due to insufficient teams for a stand-alone colts competition, the Subbies clubs began to play their colts sides in the Brisbane or Gold Coast competitions. The QSRU competition was reduced to four grades in 2000 when Ipswich and Logan City transferred to the Brisbane competition, Redlands relocated to the Gold Coast competition, and the QUT club folded. Wynnum and Everton Park, as the only former Division I clubs remaining, were merged into the lower division competitions.
New clubs, including the Black Rhinos and Brisbane Irish, were added in 2001 and the QSRU competition was restructured into five grades, with the Barber, Pegg, Scotney, Wyatt, and Normanby Cups being contested. Promotion and relegation between the divisions was introduced in 2007.
As recently as 2011, an under 19 representative Subbies team was selected to compete in the annual City v Country Carnival, however the QSRU has not been involved in administering colts rugby teams since then. The number of Division II clubs has also decreased. The Wyatt Cup competition has not been contested since the 2012 season, and the Scotney Cup is now being contested as part of the Brisbane 4th grade competition in 2014.
The Queensland Suburban Rugby is made up of three divisions with five grades of competition, structured as follows:First Division
- 1st grade- Barber Cup
- 2nd grade- Pegg Cup
- 1st grade- Scotney Cup - contested within Brisbane grade competition in 2014.
- 2nd grade- Wyatt Cup - not contested since 2012.
- 1st grade- Normanby Cup (Friday Night)
Clubs competing for the Barber Cup and Pegg Cup, as of 2015, are:
Clubs competing for the Scotney Cup: