3 March 2022

Does anybody know the Super Rugby season has started?

| Tim Gavel
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The Brumbies versus the Fijian Drua in season 2022. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

Just over 8000 people watched the Brumbies take on the Western Force in round one at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

In the early days of Super Rugby, there was a pizazz surrounding the code. There was Bachman-Turner Overdrive declaring “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” blasting from our television.

The glamour in the commercials was translated onto the field, with a sense of flamboyance that attracted plenty to the game.

The promotion on Channel 7/Prime was second to none, and by the early 2000s, rugby had become the hottest ticket in Canberra. It was impossible to avoid.

Nowadays it’s hard to find, unless you’re a rugby-tragic.

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Even judging by conversations had with people I would regard as rugby supporters, some weren’t even aware the season had started, let alone knowing what team the Brumbies were playing. Some even asked if the games were trial matches, and this was in the lead up to the second round.

I don’t necessarily blame the Brumbies.

The number of media conferences hasn’t changed dramatically. There are plenty of stories in mainstream media and there are corflutes lining the streets.

But there has been an obvious drop-off in the connection with rugby fans.

This correlates with the significant decline in coverage on Fox Sports after they lost the rights to Nine and Stan.

To be fair, there is not a huge coverage of rugby on Nine, even though they have the rights, while it’s a struggle at times to find stories about rugby in News Corp publications.

Perhaps this is just as much a reflection on the lack of interest in the code as it is in a media operator peeved that they lost the rights.

Brumby Jill and Brumby Jack

Brumby Jill and Brumby Jack work the crowd at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

It’s fair to say people are getting information spread across numerous sources including social media, which wasn’t a factor in Super Rugby’s early days. This has made it both hard and easy to get the message out to promote the games.

It’s hard because there are so many different sources to disseminate information and targeting becomes problematic. It’s easy because there are so many different sources to send the message out.

Establishing a connection is the key.

But whatever the reason, not enough people know the games are on. This is sad really when considering round three is coming up, and the Brumbies are preparing to take on arch-rivals, the Waratahs.

This isn’t really about the Brumbies, though. Much of the apathy associated with the game has to be connected with the perceptions of rugby more broadly as played in Australia.

The stoppages in the game do not help at all. Games are halted for minutes while a player gets tape applied or a prop goes down for treatment seemingly every time a scrum is about to be formed.

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The Brumbies crossed for seven tries against the Fijian Drua on the weekend. Some of these tries were great, including the one scored by Tom Banks in the first half.

But conversations among fans as they walked from the ground were not about tries but about the number of reset scrums. Again, perception overruled reality. It was a tough game of football despite the scoreline.

Perhaps the real reason for the lack of awareness is because rugby people continue to have unrealistic expectations of the game.

We all want running rugby, but there is a fine line between an intention to play open attacking rugby, and an opposition team doing their level best to prevent their rivals from doing so.

Either way, the Brumbies are up against the Waratahs in Round three on Saturday night. It should be a great game judging by the form of both teams. But how many people will be there watching?

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I bought a season ticket for the first time this year.
Worked out I would probably be going to all the games anyway and the season ticket worked out $50 cheaper, plus I got a hat and a stubby cooler.
I’ve enjoyed both games so far, good seats, can even buy decent beer now.

Been a Brumbies member since 2007. Missed only three games in all that time. After watching the two games this season the same old problem raises its head re refereeing and stoppages. Brums v Western Force game 21 penalties (goodness knows how many scrum resets) and 28 penalties in Brums v Fijian Drua game. The officiating is killing rugby. The referees think we pay to see them strutting around. I also attend the Raiders games and put up with the same facilities, overpriced food and drinks, queues, over zealous security, queues for entry to stadium, bag checks, body scans, parking etc. The game is free flowing and the referee occasionally gets in the way. I think you can work out the problem.

Vinson1Bernie3:09 pm 02 Mar 22

News Corp losing the rights means the News Corp papers and Fox ignoring it, And hopefully the Nine network isnt warehousing it like they did (then common ownership of Fox Sports) the northern states AFL rights in early 2000s as a potential threat to NRL ratings. Though they have to attract subscribers to Stan, Its hard to make a national judgement from Canberra but more FTA coverage than ever though now heaps of channels which means the one-off big ticket items like SOO, Footy Grand Finals are worth more and you have to make more noise to get noticed. The whole world is still in Post Covid/Ukraine/floods depression

Not sure it is entirely Rugby’s fault or is isolated to it. The overt politicization of professional sport is a big turnoff for many punters. Hardly a round goes by without some minority being touted and the general sports public told they are Neanderthals. If women want to play traditionally male sports, good on ’em, I hope they enjoy their day on the paddock. But if i want to watch Under 17 level execution of the sport I will go to the ground and cheer the lads on. Cancelled my pay TV subscription, I’m over it.

Got any evidence beyond your anecdotal experience to support ‘many punters’ really giving more then a shrug of the shoulders and ‘meh’ about said issue?

I think the vast majority probably go ‘whatever’ and get on with it – but as with many things, there is a noisy minority that will use any old excuse if its a chance for a whine.

Capital Retro8:03 am 02 Mar 22

The ABC endlessly promotes women’s sport which judging by the almost total lack of spectators, needs all the help it can get but I don’t believe that’s how the ABC sees it.

I don’t recall any headlines on RiotACT about the commencement of this year’s super-rugby, either.

I agree! All I’ve seen from RIOT is negative articles about no one going to the rugby. If true fans don’t know the rugby has started then they’re not real fans, because you go looking for the rugby news if you want to know all the details.


Seemed rushed. No mention of of Labor/Green government, climate change ideology or the light rail.

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