The decision to cut the Australian Super Rugby sides from five to four floored me. Based on all previous rhetoric about maintaining a national footprint, I didn’t think the ARU would do it.
I was furious. I took to social media and ranted to anyone who would listen. I threatened to walk away from the game.
As someone said, that is a perfectly understandable response based on emotion. However these decisions can’t be made on emotion. Now that its sunk in, I have been able to view it more rationally.
While journalists and rugby supporters from other countries have commented about the widening gap between Australian rugby and the Kiwi teams, I have refused to listen.
I have been championing the need to make rugby a national game. I have travelled interstate to many Rebel, Brumby and Force games to lend my support, however its now become quite evident that we expanded too quickly without the correct pathways in place.
I have been refusing to acknowledge it because if I did I would be admitting we failed. In the cold light of day it’s evident we are stretched too thin and the results on the field are reflecting that.
A fellow rugby enthusiast on social media commented that cutting a team is the wrong action and consolidation is what is required. Wayne Smith in The Australian was thinking along similar lines when he said the Brumbies should move to Melbourne.
The idea of the Rebels and Brumbies merging is the right idea, but the Brumbies shouldn’t move to Melbourne.
I believe the answer is the formation of the Southern Brumbies. A team that represents the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. The team is based in Canberra but plays 50 per cent of its home games in Melbourne and 50 per cent in Canberra.
Where the team’s head office resides shouldn’t matter. All Australian rugby supporters barrack for the Wallabies and the Sevens squads even though they are essentially based in Sydney.
We support them because they represent us and they play their games in our capital cities.
The creation of this mega club should be view as an incredible opportunity for rugby in this country. Canberra needs access to a bigger market, while Melbourne needs to break through the cluttered sporting noise by joining the winners circle.
While building a successful future, this team can leverage the iconic Brumbies brand and bask in the glory of being Australia’s most successful Super Rugby side.
It can be successful because it would have access to a better roster, a broader player pool, more sponsors and more fans. Over eight million people reside in the Southern States.
This new union would have an independent board that includes representation from the ACTRU and VRU.
To ensure the club isn’t slowly engulfed by the larger market, the club’s constitution must stipulate that the team is always head quartered in Canberra and 50 per cent of the home games are played there.
Andrew Cox the current owner of the Melbourne Rebels would become a major shareholder in the new venture.
All players would be assigned premier clubs in both the ACT and the Melbourne. They would rarely play for these teams but it would ensure there was a connection and engagement into both cities.
The pathway to Super Rugby needs to be kept. The Brumby Runners and the Melbourne Rising would still compete in the NRC.
The Rising would comprise of players essentially from the Dewar Shield competition in Melbourne and would have to be supported by the ARU.
In South Australia and Tasmania the State rugby unions would promote the Southern Brumbies to show the connection and pathway to Super rugby.
The Force would do the same in Western Australia and the Northern Territory and rugby would achieve the national footprint.
The Rebels have said that a cut would not happen on their watch, but what happens if they along with their compatriots in Canberra could create a new Brumbies dynasty on their watch? A new power club with great market potential that would rival the strength of NSW and Queensland.