Here we go again with rumours and speculation about the future of the Brumbies.
It’s tough being a rugby supporter in Canberra – home to the most successful Australian Super Rugby franchise.
As supporters, we are called upon to emotionally and financially commit ourselves to the team, but it would appear the commitment, at times, is a one-way street.
Speculation about the Brumbies’ future in Canberra has been a recurring theme a few times in the history of the club, and it would appear it is back again.
Rugby Australia’s plans for centralisation have resurrected speculation once again amidst reports the governing body is seeking to take control of the Brumbies by relinquishing intellectual property rights. In exchange, Rugby Australia would expunge the Brumbies of its debt.
The Brumbies would effectively become an extension of Rugby Australia, with little control in Canberra itself.
The Brumbies and the ACT Government have been backed into a corner.
The ACT Government, understandably, has indicated an unwillingness to commit to a new stadium, whether it be a rebuild on the existing footprint or elsewhere, if there is no firm commitment from Rugby Australia to guarantee long-term tenure of the Brumbies in Canberra.
We have, of course, been here before.
In the golden years in the late 1990s to the early 2000s, the Brumbies were a juggernaut with packed grandstands. The game was at its absolute zenith.
Assisted by the fallout from rugby league’s Super League war, the Brumbies were the talk of the town.
As the crowds dropped off speculation rose about the Brumbies being relocated to Melbourne.
At one stage, the rumour was so strong we were expecting an announcement any hour that the club would be moving out of Canberra.
There were concerns about the size of Canberra’s corporate sponsorship base, which has traditionally been smaller than centres such as Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
It took the governing body an eternity to quash speculation linking the team with relocation.
In 2017, there was another round of speculation with rumours the Brumbies would be axed in a revamped Super Rugby competition.
I well remember the rallying call by then CEO Michael Thomson, coach Steve Larkham and co-captain Sam Carter ahead of the game against the Highlanders at Canberra Stadium.
Fans were called upon to support the team and show what the Brumbies meant to the city.
History shows the Brumbies avoided the cull six years ago.
We have returned to that point again with little coming out of Rugby Australia quelling any speculation. If anything, the fear among the Canberra rugby community has been amplified by talk of Rugby Australia’s centralised model.
Remarkably, despite the lack of clarity in the boardroom, the team has continued to perform on the park.
Once again, we are waiting for the governing body to put this one to bed. The longer it goes on, the more damage is imposed on a code that can ill afford further turmoil.