19 April 2024

It's now or never: forget 'season defining', the Brumbies are now playing for their future in Super Rugby

| Tim Gavel
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Brumbies coach Steve Larkham overseeing training. Photo: Jayzie Photography.

Brumbies coach Steve Larkham overseeing training: it’s all on the line. Photo: Jayzie Photography.

At the start of the season, injured Brumbies skipper Allan Alaalatoa noted the connection between the team’s on-field performance and the team’s future.

In other words, the playing group had an additional motivation this season.

Of course, that desire can easily be countered by an equally motivated opposition. That’s why the next two weeks are so important. With the finals within reach, the players have the chance to ensure their immediate future – and the very existence of the club.

Things appear to have settled on the speculation front, but a finals-bound Brumbies would hopefully quash any talk about the road ahead.

Of added interest at the moment is the performance of the Rebels.

At the start of the season, this was a team preparing for the chopping block.

The Rebels are now fourth on the ladder, ahead of the Reds, the Waratahs and the Force, three teams guaranteed a future under the Rugby Australia model.

The Brumbies have emerged from the first half of the Super Rugby season as the leading Australian team, sitting in third place behind the Hurricanes and the Blues.

Having accounted for all other Australian teams in the first seven rounds, the real action gets underway this week when the Brumbies take on the Blues in Auckland.

There’s a considerable history between these teams dating back to the 1997 Super 12 final when the Blues ran rampant over the Brumbies in driving rain at Eden Park.

This weekend, the two sides will meet again at the same venue.

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While the Brumbies have taken all before them in Australia, the top New Zealand sides continue to present a major challenge despite the decline in fortunes of the Crusaders and the Highlanders. The Highlanders are 10th and the Crusaders 11th.

While the Brumbies accounted for the Highlanders earlier this season, it had the potential to create a false dawn.

This weekend the Brumbies face the top defensive team in Super Rugby. In the past four rounds, the Blues have conceded just two tries.

The Blues, like the Brumbies, have only suffered one loss.

A game plan to upset the Blues was possibly provided by the unlikeliest of sources, the Waratahs.

The Tahs defence stifled the Blues’ attack before the Auckland-based team escaped with a narrow 12-10 victory.

Correspondingly, the Blues will no doubt be pouring through the tapes of the Chiefs’ demolition job on the Brumbies in Round 2 in Melbourne.

Of course, much has changed since then, with the Brumbies visibly elevating the physicality of their game.

And their game will need to be on for the next fortnight.

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After the Blues, the Brumbies return to Canberra Stadium for a heavyweight showdown with the Hurricanes.

The Canes have taken all before them this season with a set piece that has dominated every team through seven rounds, including the Blues.

The Hurricanes self-belief was on show for all to see in the come-from-behind win over the Chiefs.

The Brumbies appear to have established a similar self-belief this season.

The next fortnight will determine whether that is enough.

In further evidence of the strength of the Brumbies program, the Brumbies women’s side faces the Waratahs in the Super W semi-finals in Sydney. The task facing the Brumbies is imposing, with the Waratahs the dominant side in Super W this season.

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Paul Rutherford8:29 am 18 Apr 24

If the Brumbies get kicked out of Super Rugby I am done with Australian rugby, rather watch English rugby on Stan or top 14. Brumbies have a winning culture and consistently churn out top level performances. Warratahs are the opposite have the pick of the best players and consistently under performs.

Not The Mama7:39 am 18 Apr 24

Unfortunately, team performance has nothing to do with whether a club will be closed and everything to do with how much money the ARU can extract from the fans. The ARU will never close the Waratahs and I would not want them to either.

I am a big fan of the Brumbies and I will mourn the day that they are gone if that occured. But they will always be a small fish in a big pool, and money talks louder to the ARU than results in the field or just about anything else.

Die hard fans of rugby should consider supporting the local comp, rather than get themselves worked up over this ARU Super nonsense.

@Not The Mama
“Die hard fans of rugby should consider supporting the local comp …”
I agree 100%.

It’s quite a while since I went out to Bruce to watch the Brumbies.

I’d much rather venture over to ANU North Oval – “my local ground”, on a Saturday afternoon, to watch the Owls playing.

The atmosphere is great, and I can get a very nice (and reasonably priced) sausage sanga and a can of beer and sit in the stand to watch the action.

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