17 March 2023

Bringing the Brumbies to their fans

| Tim Gavel
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The ACT Brumbies in full song.

The ACT Brumbies sing the team song surrounded by fans following their win against the Reds. Photo: Brett McKay.

At Brumbies headquarters, they are still searching for the mysterious knock-on that cost the side a crucial try in the 23-17 victory over the Queensland Reds on Saturday night.

Having looked at the replays numerous times, it’s hard to work out why Noah Lolesio’s try was disallowed.

The decision provided yet another layer to a game filled with plenty of dramatic shifts as the Brumbies continued their unbeaten start to the season through three rounds.

As it evolved, perhaps the most eye-opening moment of the night came well after the full-time whistle.

And it wasn’t the after-match press conference where coaches dissected the game.

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With the crowd allowed onto the field, in a rare moment where the fans were put before the protection of the turf, the Brumbies sang the team song surrounded by their supporters.

This is usually a time-honoured ritual in all sports carried out behind the closed doors of the change room.

For the Brumbies to involve their fans in such a public way is, in many aspects, an easy gesture to make, but to put it into practice is another step entirely.

If the Brumbies had lost, obviously it wouldn’t have taken place. It was almost a perfect storm, with the victory over their arch-rivals coming on the night the crowd was allowed on the field.

It also coincided with the side playing with ACT firmly placed within their team’s name. Yes, they played as the ACT Brumbies for the first time since 2004.

The Brumbies sing the team song surrounded by fans at GIO Stadium

The Brumbies sing the team song surrounded by fans at GIO Stadium. Photo: Tim Gavel.

It all comes together as part of the plan to connect with a rugby community, which at times has felt disengaged for a variety of reasons, including the perceived corporatisation of the brand.

The innovations made by the Brumbies and GIO Stadium to get fans back to watching live football are worth noting – cheaper pies are just part of the equation.

The side is playing a scintillating brand of rugby, with a strong intent to play an attacking style reminiscent of the early days.

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There was also a move to abandon the Captain’s Run, which is no more than a get-together the day before a game. Instead, the players were dispersed to the community.

Once again, it’s easy to dispense the Run but harder to put into practice because it’s such an established tradition.

The Irish national rugby side provides a template for grassroots connections with their fans.

Admittedly it is easy to support a team currently ranked as number one in the world, but there is a substantial reason why the Irish side has the slogan, ‘The team of us’.

It was created to make the players more relatable and better known. It was understood that we all shout more loudly for people that we know.

Steve Larkham has obviously learnt this. His stint on the coaching staff at Munster taught him a lot.

Either way, this Brumbies side is working diligently on all aspects of the game, both on and off the field. And they deserve a bigger crowd than 8500.

ACT Brumbies take on Moana Pasifika tonight at GIO Stadium. Tickets from Ticketek.

Original Article published by Tim Gavel on Riotact.

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