15 February 2022

The Brumbies need to put on a show to bring fans back to rugby in the capital

| Tim Gavel
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Noah Lolesio

Exciting players like Brumbies fly-half Noah Lolesio need to shine to give fans something to cheer about. Photo: Brumbies.

When the Brumbies burst onto the sporting landscape in the inaugural 1996 Super Rugby season, they brought much-need flair to the game. They were renegades and played with an attacking spirit. Within a few years, it yielded a Super Rugby title in 2001 and a packed house at Canberra Stadium.

Now, 21 years later, the Brumbies are on a quest to win back supporters who have walked away from the game. This is despite some great seasons, including 2013 when the Brumbies made the Super Rugby final but failed to attract decent crowds to their home games.

There was disillusionment with coach Jake White’s game plan, which was effective but unattractive to an audience nurtured on the running rugby of that first decade.

The Brumbies were winning but it failed to resonate, putting to bed the myth that Canberrans will turn out in force to support a successful team no matter what.

It had become obvious to the Brumbies that supporters trekking to Canberra wanted to be entertained. When this didn’t happen, they found something else to do with their discretionary spending and time.

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Last season the Brumbies, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, failed to attract a crowd of over 10,000.

It’s obvious this is not financially sustainable.

So as the Brumbies prepare to host the Western Force in the opening round of Super Rugby Pacific this weekend, the team will be on notice to entertain to win back the support of Canberra fans.

With Banks at fullback, Lolesio at fly-half, Wright on the wing, and White at halfback, there is no reason why the side shouldn’t be scoring tries through running rugby this season.

I know the rolling maul has resulted in plenty of tries for the Brumbies, but fans, with no disrespect to Lachie Lonergan and Folau Fainga’a, will be hoping a hooker isn’t the leading try scorer this season.

Brumbies fans

Back the Brumbies in 2022 at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Brumbies.

Rugby has at times created its own frustrations diminishing rugby as a spectacle. An example? Nothing frustrates fans looking to be entertained more than pedantic officiating, where the whistle seems to be a feature of the game.

Another frustration experienced by supporters heading to Canberra Stadium, a situation I witnessed a number of times, was the closure of the ticket booths at the ground because of COVID. With the box office closed, fans had to buy tickets online, yet there was no restriction on crowd capacity. This practice looks set to continue this season.

Despite these minor frustrations, there should be no limitations facing fans heading out to Canberra Stadium to watch the Brumbies this season.

There will be four blockbuster games, with the Brumbies facing the Waratahs, the Reds, the Crusaders and the Hurricanes. The first three games are at home, including several family-friendly afternoon fixtures.

It would appear the competition schedulers have listened to the concerns of supporters and the Brumbies themselves.

Everything possible has been put in place to get people back to Canberra Stadium for Brumbies games.

If it all comes together, the crowds will come.

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Capital Retro8:19 am 19 Feb 22

It’s often described as a players game. In recent times the referees have decided they want to own the game too.

The last thing considered is what do the spectators want.

It rivals the excitement of a soccer match with a 0-0 result.

As many games as possible at Bruce in the depths of winter should be scheduled for the afternoon, not the evening. That would increase the crowds somewhat.

Capital Retro1:11 pm 16 Feb 22

Funny how Folau got sacked but players who were on serious drugs are still there.

Funny how people find a roundabout way to support religious homophobes.

Capital Retro10:37 pm 16 Feb 22

Folau was raised with those beliefs. Other religions are more intolerant of homosexuality that his is. He didn’t have a choice.

People who takes drugs do have choices.

If he was quoting about slaughtering children & sexually enslaving women (directly from the Old Testament) I suppose that would be fine as well.

“He didn’t have a choice.”

Hahahahaha, religion is compulsory now is it CR? When I last checked, he was a grown man who could make his own choices.

What utter dribble. He always has a choice. Just like he had a choice not to post what he did on social media, but did anyway.

Capital Retro9:51 am 17 Feb 22

I said he was raised with those beliefs. Religion is not only compulsory in some countries but it is actually the only authority. Why don’t you read and try and understand what I said?

You are probably one of naïve people who believe that certain terrorists who were brought up being told that their only mission in life was to become a martyr by murdering infidels can be “deredicalised”.

Capital Retro11:30 am 17 Feb 22

That is still done in some countries and regions. No doubt you are actively involved in protesting against it.

To be fair, Folau didn’t claim or promote any sort of violence, he just claimed that homosexuality was a sin in his religion and that sinners would go to hell.

If you don’t believe in his religion, why would you care that he was saying you’d go to a place that you didn’t believe existed when you die?

Capital Retro3:06 pm 17 Feb 22

My mother used to tell me I would go to hell if I didn’t pray to God every night. That stayed with me a long time and I don’t ridicule people who may still do that.

As pointed out on another RiotACT thread recently, a Canberra Green MLA tells her daughters at night that they will die if they don’t follow the Green mantra.

You specifically said: “He didn’t have a choice.”

He didn’t make those comments on social media while living in a country where he had no choice about religion and as a teenager did he? No he made them as an Australian and as an adult where he has every choice he wants. Like he had a choice to sign a contract that would see such posts land him in trouble. It is zero excuse for the action that got him in trouble.

As for the rest – just completely irrelevant nonsense, but anything to pathetically try and disguise a personal swipe hey? Pathetic.

I have been sitting in Bay 56 since 2007 (I do go home between games!!!). The cash grab (upgrading the Silver to Gold with associated increase in price) in Bay 55 to force members to pay more for the same seat did not win many fans. The preening referees (I didn’t pay to see you ref, keep out of the game) has been a point of angst for many members who have sat near me. The Brumbies have been playing good rugby the past few seasons. The price and quality of the food/drinks as well as the queues has been poor advertisement for attending. I am getting to an age where the walk to the game (from CIT) and sitting in a freezing stadium has become an endurance test. I also attend Raiders games. My sister (a Raiders supporters God bless her) is the same vintage as me and has given up and selectively attends afternoon matches due to cold (yes, I know Canberra is cold…..). The stadium is a real let down. A Reds supporter a few years ago said the Canberra Stadium reminded him of some local football grounds in Queensland due to the age of the facilities. Hot topic, just watch all the submissions on this.

John Elliott – it is better than that other “sport”, soccer. Let’s play 90 minutes of a game in which players spend the whole time trying to convince the ref that they are injured and then it’s a 0-0 draw. At least in rugby they spend 80 minutes trying to convince the ref they are not injured and can stay on the field, the game is entertaining and a score to prove it…….

Capital Retro8:44 am 16 Feb 22

John Elliott, well said. The sacking of Folau was more to appease the main sponsor. That’s how money has ruined sport.

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