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Brumbies and Super Rugby – a call to arms

By David Tuckwell - 24 March 2017 7

Brumbies

The Brumbies are a Canberra icon. They’re known globally for their innovative playing style and as the top feeder team for the Wallabies.

But it is exactly their Canberra-ness that has put their place on the global stage under threat in the ongoing fight to see which Australian team gets cuts from Super Rugby.

“We reflect community values. We’re very keen to be part of the community. We live here every day and we represent Canberra on the national stage,” said Brumbies CEO Michael Thomson.

It has always been said that the Brumbies were too good for the territory: the crowds weren’t big enough and the media market too small. Every year the interstate press calls for the team to move. Last year The Australian recommended western Sydney.

But now the pressure is coming from the league itself. Having put commercial concerns first for far too long, the quality of the Super Rugby competition has declined and TV ratings have fallen.

SANZAAR knows it has to shake things up and the return to a round-robin format has been trumpeted as one such device.

“There’s been a growing realisation that the structure has to be revitalised, which gives them two options: leave the number of teams as is, or go to a 15 team model which works better from a scheduling perspective,” Mr Thomson says.

“It’s thought that two teams from South Africa will be chopped and one from Australia. Then there’s a whole lot of speculation about who.

“There’s three Australian teams being discussed: Melbourne, Perth and us. We produce more Wallabies than any other team and more Wallaby coaches than any other. We’ve never been bailed out by the ARU. We’ve got the second highest viewership behind the Warratahs. But we come from a smaller catchment area.”

All this, of course, assumes that South Africa can get to a situation where they can axe two teams – which at this stage, is far from clear. But if they do, the Brumbies, along with the Rebels and the Force will be in the ARU’s crosshairs.

The issue for the Rebels and the Force, by contrast, is not the size of the cities they reside in – Perth and Melbourne are sizeable enough. The issue is that both cities are AFL-dominated and non-international rugby union struggles to draw numbers. They also have less club history than the Brumbies.

For all the worry about their place in Super Rugby, Mr Thomson says that morale is strong.

“I think everyone would like certainty. We’ve won our last two games and we’ve got a very young squad. We beat the Waratahs last week. We’re always happy when we’re winning and beating the Waratahs.”

It falls to Canberrans, then, to do their utmost to assure their team stays in Super Rugby. And use the fact that the Brumbies are from Canberra as a weapon rather than a shackle.

“Get out to the game. We are playing last year’s finalists, the Highlanders. We’ve got a young team that’s really trying hard.”

“The other is thing Canberrans can do is recognising and speaking positively about us as an organisation and helping out however they can.”

Plus500 Brumbies vs Highlanders
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra, ACT
Date: Sat 25 Mar 2017, 7:40pm
Tickets: http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/Show.aspx?sh=KRU0517

Caption: top, a message that was sent out to fans and members earlier in the week.

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7 Responses to
Brumbies and Super Rugby – a call to arms
1
dungfungus 3:36 pm
24 Mar 17
#

Just how many original Canberra and regional players are in the Brumbies these days?

It seems that more and more players are being sourced (like commodities) from interstate and overseas. Their players are certainly not people who “live here every day” and it’s a bit of stretch to say The Brumbies represent community values given the transgressions that are reported from time to time and the financial problems they have had.

The game is all about money these days and I can’t get parochial about their “Canberra-ness” any more.

2
wildturkeycanoe 7:34 am
25 Mar 17
#

Perhaps the fact tickets cost almost twice that of NRL games is a factor to explain the lack of support for their home games.

3
John Moulis 8:50 am
25 Mar 17
#

“A real Canberra icon”. Fotunuupule Auelua, Laussii Taliauli, Tevita Kuridrani, etc etc. Right…

4
rommeldog56 8:09 pm
26 Mar 17
#

Not sure what the crowd attendance was, but Brumbies lost, at home, by 5 points to the bottom ranked NZ team – which was weakened by injuries to boot.

The Australian conference teams need to be rationalised to concentrate talent/quality – I reckon reduce to 3 teams. Which one(s) to go ?????

5
dungfungus 10:02 am
27 Mar 17
#

rommeldog56 said :

Not sure what the crowd attendance was, but Brumbies lost, at home, by 5 points to the bottom ranked NZ team – which was weakened by injuries to boot.

The Australian conference teams need to be rationalised to concentrate talent/quality – I reckon reduce to 3 teams. Which one(s) to go ?????

The crowd was reported to be a tad over 12,000.

None of the Australian teams are in the top four.

Are there any Australians playing in the NZ teams?

6
Rollersk8r 10:09 am
27 Mar 17
#

dungfungus said :

Just how many original Canberra and regional players are in the Brumbies these days?

It seems that more and more players are being sourced (like commodities) from interstate and overseas. Their players are certainly not people who “live here every day” and it’s a bit of stretch to say The Brumbies represent community values given the transgressions that are reported from time to time and the financial problems they have had.

The game is all about money these days and I can’t get parochial about their “Canberra-ness” any more.

I agree with you – but this is not the fault of the Brumbies. The problem is with Australian rugby as a whole – which is precisely why an Australian team needs to be axed.

NZ rugby is incredibly strong because it’s their no.1 sport and the pinnacle is playing for the All Blacks. Whereas any half decent Australians take the money and enjoy life in Europe. Australian rugby had to change its own rules to allow overseas players to show up for the Wallabies every now and then. So what you end up with is weak domestic teams, weak Wallabies and fans struggling to learn the names of endless players brought in to fill gaps.

Personally I think it’s living in the past to say the Brumbies create Wallabies. Not to mention the fundamental problems of freezing Bruce Stadium – while most are watching from the comfort of their loungeroom.

7
chewy14 10:35 am
27 Mar 17
#

rommeldog56 said :

Not sure what the crowd attendance was, but Brumbies lost, at home, by 5 points to the bottom ranked NZ team – which was weakened by injuries to boot.

The Australian conference teams need to be rationalised to concentrate talent/quality – I reckon reduce to 3 teams. Which one(s) to go ?????

The bottom ranked NZ team who’s first four games were all against the other NZ teams, so doesn’t really reflect the Highlanders position in the competition.

One team definitely has to go though and hopefully it’s the Waratahs.

Barring that optimal outcome, the Rebels are the team to go if the ARU has any brains whatsoever (which is doubtful).

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