If speculation is anything to go by, the Brumbies have been on the verge of extinction at least a couple of times in their 25-year history.
There has been the constant talk of a potential merger with the Melbourne Rebels. Thankfully that was put to bed by Rugby Australia last year.
Prior to the Western Force being omitted from the start of the 2018 season, there was speculation that the Brumbies were under the gun because of the greater corporate value of having a Perth team.
Thankfully, common sense prevailed.
In the wake of the sale of the Griffith training base, it was revealed how close the club had gone to insolvency. This followed losses of $346,198 in 2012, followed by another loss of $141,085 in 2013.
In some quarters, there remains disbelief that the sale failed to adequately financially safeguard the Brumbies for many years to come.
The club’s self-implosion a few years ago, which resulted in a drawn-out legal process, further instilled the impression that the Brumbies future remained on shaky grounds.
But again, the Brumbies proved the sceptics wrong and continued to be incredibly successful on the field.
This brings us to the present day, ahead of the first home game of the 2021 season, after a COVID-19 ravaged 2020.
As if the financial loss of $468,484 in 2020 wasn’t enough, the Brumbies were hit with another blow before the start of this season when Rugby Australia announced they were slashing funding to clubs by 30 per cent.
JobKeeper has been a savour in many respects for clubs such as the Brumbies, but the upcoming discontinuation of the scheme should rightly be a concern.
It will be yet another test for the Brumbies as an organisation, which has prided itself on being one of the leanest operations in Super Rugby. And despite operating on the smell of an oily rag, the Brumbies are the most successful Super Rugby franchise in Australia with three titles, including the 2020 Super Rugby AU Championship.
If nothing else, it highlights the strength of the rugby program.
Brumbies coaches over the years, from Rod Macqueen to Dan McKellar, have successfully insulated the playing group from external pressures, such as the club’s financial position.
If it has infiltrated the playing group, it has been used as a motivator.
The Brumbies in their infant years operated successfully on the us-versus-them philosophy, especially when it came to the Waratahs. It served the club well until it became counter-productive, but the sense that there was a point to be proven remained.
Last season the Brumbies had to overcome an additional obstacle with bushfires and smoke impacting their preparations. The club went on to win the Super Rugby AU title.
Again this season, the Brumbies could be forced to call upon that inner resolve, which few sporting teams have the ability to harness. It will require an all-in-club approach, and given their ability to overcome significant obstacles in the past, there is no reason why they can’t do it again.