14 February 2020

Big weekend for ACT Rugby as Brumbies host double header

| Michael Djordjieski
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Try time for the Brumbies

Brumbies Super Rugby and Super W will headline a doubleheader at GIO Stadium this Saturday. Photo: Jayzie Photography.

The Brumbies will be hopeful of a large crowd at GIO Stadium later today when the Super W season kicks off with the Brumbies Women taking on Rugby WA Women, before the Brumbies look to make it 11 straight home wins at the expense of the Highlanders.

Brumbies Women will kick start their campaign at 4:35 pm this afternoon (15 February), while the Brumbies will take to the field at 7:15 pm.

Scheduling the two outfits to play on the same day is aimed at attracting more Canberra fans after the Brumbies only managed to reel in just over 7,000 spectators against the Melbourne Rebels last Friday night.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle was in Canberra on Wednesday (12 February) to promote the launch of the Super W 2020 season and though the Brumbies have struggled with crowd numbers, it’s not all bad news with viewer numbers rising.

“What we know about the Brumbies is they are delivering games. They are working really hard with their fan base to make sure they are building it,” Ms Castle said.

“We saw some growth in viewership figures, so compared to the same games last year we had about a 10 to 15 per cent growth in those broadcast numbers.”

However, as Ms Castle explained, it will take a sustained effort to get the game back to its popularity of previous seasons, and doubleheaders are one part of the strategy.

“We got our doubleheaders so [the teams] can play together, and fans that come along can experience both as well as separately as an option,” she said.

Super W launch

The Super W had their inaugural season launch Wednesday (February 12) at the National Museum of Australia. Photo: Michael Djordjieski.

Creating more fixtures like the doubleheader throughout the year is something Brumbies Women’s co-captain Michaela Leonard believes can help lure more eyes to the sport, especially the Super W.

“We want to keep those pathways open, we want as much exposure as we can get,” Ms Leonard said.

“I think the fact that we have a lot more doubleheaders with the men this year will hopefully get more people watching games, tuning in, whether on Fox Sports or Kayo Sports or coming to the game live. Hopefully, that will build the exposure and secure those avenues and channels for future years.

“We are hoping everyone gets there on time for a 4:30 pm kick off. The Brumbies have been doing well this season; hopefully, the Canberra crowd comes down and supports us. We have the new kids zone, the new slav area as well, so it’s all set up for the fans to come out so hopefully everyone comes and gets behind the women’s and the men’s team.”

Despite the fact that the Brumbies have started with two wins from two starts this season, getting spectators to fill in empty seats has cast a dark shadow on an otherwise bright start in 2020.

Brumbies assistant coach Peter Hewat is optimistic more than 10,000 fans will be at GIO Stadium for the games.

“We have the doubleheader with the Super W this weekend, the guys are really excited to keep building on playing well and connecting with the community,” Mr Hewat said.

“Our community and territory have gone through tough times of late, we are happy to just keep playing a nice and exciting brand of footy to put smiles on faces.”

The Super W side announced they will have six starting players on debut, with five potentially coming off the bench for Adam Butt’s team.

The Brumbies have made three changes to their starting 15 from the side that defeated the Rebels last time out.

Team list for Super W:1. Krystal Fyfe*, 2. Harriet Elleman, 3. Louise Burrows, 4. Emily Sogal, 5. Michaela Leonard (c), 6. Emma Masi, 7. Rebecca Smyth*, 8. Zali Waihape-Andrews*, 9. Jane Garraway (c), 10. Ella Ryan*, 11. Darcy Read, 12. Sammie Wood, 13. Pesi Palu*, 14. Gabrielle Petersen*, 15. Talei Qalo Wilson.

Substitutions: 16. Tania Ofamasaga, 17. Peta Cox, 18. Iris Verebalavu*, 19. Grace Sullivan*, 20. Pearl Rakete*, 21. Phoebe Loughhead*, 22. Claudia Obst, 23. Ainsley Scrivener*.

*Super W debut

Team list for Brumbies: 1. James Slipper, 2. Folau Fainga’a,3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4.Darcy Swain,5. Murray Douglas,6. Rob Valetini, 7. Will Miller, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Joe Powell,10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Tom Wright, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tevita Kuridrani,14. Solomone Kata, 15. Tom Banks.

Substitutions: 16. Connal McInerney, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Cadeyrn Neville, 20. Lachlan McCaffrey, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Len Ikitau, 23. Andy Muirhead.

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