17 March 2023

Bringing the Brumbies to their fans

| Tim Gavel
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The ACT Brumbies in full song.

The ACT Brumbies sing the team song surrounded by fans following their win against the Reds. Photo: Brett McKay.

At Brumbies headquarters, they are still searching for the mysterious knock-on that cost the side a crucial try in the 23-17 victory over the Queensland Reds on Saturday night.

Having looked at the replays numerous times, it’s hard to work out why Noah Lolesio’s try was disallowed.

The decision provided yet another layer to a game filled with plenty of dramatic shifts as the Brumbies continued their unbeaten start to the season through three rounds.

As it evolved, perhaps the most eye-opening moment of the night came well after the full-time whistle.

And it wasn’t the after-match press conference where coaches dissected the game.

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With the crowd allowed onto the field, in a rare moment where the fans were put before the protection of the turf, the Brumbies sang the team song surrounded by their supporters.

This is usually a time-honoured ritual in all sports carried out behind the closed doors of the change room.

For the Brumbies to involve their fans in such a public way is, in many aspects, an easy gesture to make, but to put it into practice is another step entirely.

If the Brumbies had lost, obviously it wouldn’t have taken place. It was almost a perfect storm, with the victory over their arch-rivals coming on the night the crowd was allowed on the field.

It also coincided with the side playing with ACT firmly placed within their team’s name. Yes, they played as the ACT Brumbies for the first time since 2004.

The Brumbies sing the team song surrounded by fans at GIO Stadium

The Brumbies sing the team song surrounded by fans at GIO Stadium. Photo: Tim Gavel.

It all comes together as part of the plan to connect with a rugby community, which at times has felt disengaged for a variety of reasons, including the perceived corporatisation of the brand.

The innovations made by the Brumbies and GIO Stadium to get fans back to watching live football are worth noting – cheaper pies are just part of the equation.

The side is playing a scintillating brand of rugby, with a strong intent to play an attacking style reminiscent of the early days.

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There was also a move to abandon the Captain’s Run, which is no more than a get-together the day before a game. Instead, the players were dispersed to the community.

Once again, it’s easy to dispense the Run but harder to put into practice because it’s such an established tradition.

The Irish national rugby side provides a template for grassroots connections with their fans.

Admittedly it is easy to support a team currently ranked as number one in the world, but there is a substantial reason why the Irish side has the slogan, ‘The team of us’.

It was created to make the players more relatable and better known. It was understood that we all shout more loudly for people that we know.

Steve Larkham has obviously learnt this. His stint on the coaching staff at Munster taught him a lot.

Either way, this Brumbies side is working diligently on all aspects of the game, both on and off the field. And they deserve a bigger crowd than 8500.

ACT Brumbies take on Moana Pasifika tonight at GIO Stadium. Tickets from Ticketek.

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Michael Cuddihy12:18 pm 20 Mar 23

The game on Saturday night was really fantastic. Plenty of long range tries, and a close contest until the Brumbies gained the ascendancy in the last 20 minutes.

I agree with Tim Gavel that being allowed onto the field at the end of the game and having a chance to chat to the players, and hear the team song is a great initiative. Certainly, my children loved it. I remember when I was a kid, this sort of thing was routine and normal and I still have memories today of those opportunities.

Thanks Tim.

As one who used to attend every home game to unlikely attend one game this year, I feel for the Brumbies organisation.

I played both codes. Enjoyed playing union more. Saturdays was rugby, rugby, rugby, followed by rugby. Now no longer.

Games to watch are generally not exciting for the non-player. Refs make ambiguous calls with little explanation and it drags on and on. Takes a lot of effort to keep non-followers of the game interested. One drawback. However, you could deal with that as a loyal self-described ‘pundit’ and still convince others to go to the game with you.

The dodgy wheels started falling off when RA signed the deal with Stan. I refused to subscribe, so now I don’t watch any Super Rugby on tv. “Oh but 9 GEM on Saturday” – cool story, bro.

How to connect with the Brumbies with a complete lack of visibility? If I want to watch a Super game I need to go to a pub which doesn’t have a TAB and is allowed to show the Union or I need to subscribe to a xitty sports streaming service but first subscribe to the xitty streaming service to then add it on for one code.

I blame RA. They, including past board members, are to blame to for the desecration of rugby in Australia. The dumping of Rennie another perfect example. The public claims of wanting to raid the NRL? Disgusting.

The brumbies do deserve better but it’s not from the Canberra community.

The rot starts from the top… Unfortunately, the Brumbies are directly impacted by it.

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