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Opinion

Who thought that bushfire and rugby seasons would ever collide?

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Roar Guru
6th January, 2020
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1348 Reads

I’m sitting in my high-rise apartment in Brisbane on a nice warm day – not too hot, normal air quality – looking over the Brisbane River at Hamilton Reach.

There’s not too much to worry about, except that tomorrow is my first day back at work for the year, but then I read the article about the Brumbies relocating their training base to Newcastle because of the parlous air quality in the nation’s capital.

Some have described it as Armaggedon and twice as bad as New Delhi, and that is saying something for those who have ever been there. Rated as hazardous, the conditions in Canberra have produced readings between 150 and 175 on Sunday.

Tom Banks and the Brumbies after their semi-final loss

(Alejandro Pagni/AFP/Getty Images)

But the club says it’s still too early to determine whether the same dangers could see the Brumbies have to shift a trial against the Rebels in Albury on January 23, or even their first Super Rugby game in Canberra on January 31 against the Reds. One idea is to swap home games with the Reds, as Suncorp Stadium is not currently booked for that day. That makes sense to me.

Being a former Canberran, with family still down there, I am quite concerned for their health and safety. I have other friends down on the South Coast whose homes are in danger. I feel for each and every one of them, and I take my hat off to the volunteers, the firefighters, the military and particularly my old mob, the Navy.

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Stay safe, people – cancel or swap games if you have to. At the end of the day, it’s sport – and as much as we need to provide entertainment, we also need to look after the welfare of players and fans.

Because of the twin fact that we are in this horrendous bushfire season and that the Super Rugby season starts so early this year, coaches and administrators are in uncharted waters, so it looks like we are going to learn a whole new lot of protocols around air quality and player safety.

Here’s a thought – administrators could also look at doubleheaders. They could, say, play a Brumbies game before or after a Rebels game in Melbourne and split the gate, or shift some games to regional stadiums in safer areas. Exceptional circumstances sometimes call for exceptional solutions.