To win rugby games, some swear by playing error-free footy. Others by having a strong set piece. I have heard Rod Kafer talk of the importance of getting over the advantage line.
For three long minutes at 9pm on a busy Saturday night, Ben Alexander’s popular pub in Canberra didn’t make a sale.
The Brumbies Super Rugby prop has promised a free beer to each patron for every try he and co-owner Scott Fardy score this season, and the TMO was deliberating on his second for the night.
Bar staff stood by idly as those who had already had their beers poured dodged eye contact or pretended to ruffle through their wallets for cash.
When the try was finally awarded, strangers cheered, hugged and high-fived one another, and the line-up to the bar doubled instantly.
And while the beer taps were once again pouring freely, it would take another 15 minutes before The Dock in Kingston would make another sale.
All during their busiest time of the week.
“Shooter, our business partner, has told me to ease off a bit,” Alexander jokes.
“But I hope people are there to support the Brumbies and not the free beer.”
Remarkably, it was Alexander’s third try in two games – making him the third-highest tryscorer in the competition after five rounds.
And while Alexander says he doesn’t know how much the clever marketing ploy has cost the bar, estimations are between $2000 and $3000.
In fact, after opening his try-scoring account against the Western Force two weeks ago, Alexander spent the entire next night collecting glasses during the Waratahs v Reds match.
“Shooter just said to come in and do some extra shifts to pay it off,” Alexander laughs.
But Alexander – the most capped Wallabies prop in history – is at pains to insist he never goes hunting for try line. Especially to boost business.
So don’t mention to him the try scoring spree that made him Super Rugby’s fourth highest try scorer in 2010.
Or his try on debut off the bench against Queensland in 2008.
After all, props aren’t meant to score tries.
“I hadn’t scored for four years,” the 30-year-old says.
“That’s not what I judge form on. Jumping over a ruck doesn’t count as to whether I’ve played well or not.”
This Sunday, Alexander’s focus will be on winning the all-Wallabies front row battle against the NSW Waratahs at Allianz Stadium.
It’s a high-stakes clash for Alexander and front-row colleagues Stephen Moore and Scott Sio.
A win will not only give the Brumbies a big lead in the Australian conference, but put the trio in a good position for Rugby World Cup selection under Waratahs and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.
“It will be a big battle. But we’re just worried about winning,” Alexander says.
“No one is going out to prove a point to Cheika. What Cheika thinks will take care of itself.”