30 June 2020

Double bill as footy and fans return to Canberra Stadium

| Henry Jacobs
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Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio kicks for goal at Canberra Stadium.

Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio kicks for goal at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Brumbies.

Professional sport and crowds are set to return to Canberra this weekend as the Raiders and Brumbies host games at Canberra Stadium for the first time since mid-March, and it can’t come soon enough for players and fans alike.

Strict government limits on gatherings mean a maximum of 1500 people will be able to attend the Raiders’ clash with St George Illawarra on Friday night and the Brumbies’ meeting with the Melbourne Rebels the next day.

Raiders ‘access members’ had the opportunity to purchase tickets on a first-come, first-served basis from Monday afternoon and those who miss out will be given priority for future matches.

The Raiders lost both ‘home’ games played in front of cardboard cut-outs at Campbelltown Stadium and are hopeful a real home crowd, regardless of the size, will help them snap a two-game losing streak.

“That’s going to be a huge boost for us to know that we’re not going to get on a bus and drive to a home game,” Raiders prop Iosia Soliola said.

“Any people that are our people are good people, that’s what we’re all sort of relishing.”

1800 Brumbies members applied for the 1500 available tickets to attend the beginning of their Super Rugby AU campaign and staff are in the process of contacting those who were successful.

Dan McKellar’s men haven’t played since their win over the NSW Waratahs on 15 March and will be aiming to continue the form that saw them sit on top of the Australian Conference when the regular Super Rugby season was abandoned.

“There’s a new spark to the group – a lot of motivation,” Brumbies centre Irae Simone said.

“The boys have something to look forward to, a lot of goals they’re going to want to achieve. It will be better than the NRL with the fake noise going around. The boys are pretty keen to get some real voices in the crowd.”

Fans at both games will be seated at least two seats apart in the east inner bowl on the Gregan-Larkham Stand side of Canberra Stadium, but some will be required to enter on the western side to minimise queues.

Players and officials will be based in a bubble on the Mal Meninga Stand side of the stadium. The Brumbies will take a bus directly to the venue from their nearby warm-up area at the AIS instead of their traditional walk. Post-match autographs won’t be permitted.

To minimise contact with security guards, fans won’t be allowed to bring a bag into the stadium and will have to wear all items of clothing.

A limited number of food vendors will be open on both nights and fans will be permitted to bring a small amount of non-commercial food in clear or sealed packaging and one non-alcoholic beverage in a sealed plastic bottle no larger than 600 ml.

If the initial games are a success, crowds up to 4,000 could be in attendance by late July. The ACT Government is expected to make a decision after the Raiders host the Melbourne Storm on 11 July.

Canberra Raiders v St. George Illawarra Dragons – Friday, 3 July, 6:00 pm.

Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels – Saturday, 4 July, 7:15 pm.

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