Too few will watch Tahs go to Waugh with Brumbies

David Lord Columnist

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    Captain Phil Waugh must play the 80 minutes against the Brumbies tomorrow night if the Waratahs are to win the Super Rugby crunch clash at ANZ Stadium.

    Success will cement a finals berth for the men-in-blue; a loss oblivion. The Brumbies will be playing for pride alone to end their season of disasters, sporting an Australian Super record of 12 losses.

    But the Waratahs have had their fair share of disasters, lowlighted by being loudly booed off the SFS after the shock 3-23 loss to the then lowly Cheetahs.

    With Waugh on the injured list, Dean Mumm led the side that forgettable night, as he did in four of the Waratahs’ six losses this season – the Blues 17-31, Sharks 21-26, and Bulls 17-23 – games that could, and should, have been won.

    Making it imperative that warrior Waugh goes the distance. With the Brumbies desperately keen to poop the Waratahs’ party, there’s no love lost between the two sides.

    And with Kurtley Beale heading for the Rebels, Al Baxter into retirement, and Luke Burgess to France, playing their last game for the Waratahs – as will Matt Giteau (Toulon), Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), Patrick Phibbs (possibly Waratahs), and Mitchell Chapman to Japan be making their swansong for the Brumbies – it has all the makings of a spirited clash if rival coaches Chris Hickey (Waratahs) and the Brumbies’ Tony Rea unleash their attackers.

    And if South African referee Craig Joubert doesn’t try to be number one on the paddock, but lets the play flow with plenty of advantage.

    That’s a lot of “ifs”, compounded by the delusional decision to play this vital game at the expansive ANZ Stadium, where maybe 15,000 will look like a flea on an elephant, especially after the tick under 82,000 at Origin 2 last Wednesday night made it a sea of blue.

    Tomorrow night looms as a sea of empty seats.

    When will rugby officials get the message that ANZ is for Bledisloe Cup or Tri-Nations? The average Super Rugby fans rate ANZ a Z-interest venue. They are far more at home at the SFS, with it’s easier access and more intimate viewing.

    And think of the players trying to perform in a “three men and a dog” stadium. Hardly stimulating, or inspirational.

    With the negatives out of the way, hopefully Beale, Waugh, Lachie Turner, and Tom Carter can turn on the fireworks for the Waratahs, and Giteau, Ashley-Cooper, Mark Gerrard, and Pat McCabe likewise for the Brumbies.

    That will salvage something out of the wreckage.

    The clash deserves it.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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