Yes. Now that Super Rugby AU is going to kick off this weekend, and we have more than just the New Zealanders to watch. I have decided to change the name of this column to “State of the Union”. It’s not original nor is it particularly clever. However, it is important. My beloved Brumbies will take the field this weekend and wipe the floor with the Melbourne Rebels.
Additionally, there’ll be four games to watch each weekend instead of two which makes me very happy.
However, since we’re now looking at the state of the union a bit more holistically. There is much to discuss this week.
Super Rugby AU Kicks Off This Week – Pay Deal Is Done
As mentioned above, Super Rugby AU is due to kick-off this week. As of Thursday morning, it has been reported that the players and Rugby Australia have agreed to a pay deal. Rugby Australia will get an injection of broadcast revenue. This is reportedly worth $8-9 Million. But it would appear for the game to survive it’s going to have to continue to sacrifice.
Rugby Australia initially proposed players continue at a 40% pay cut. However, according to sources at the Melbourne Rebels the players were so offended by the offer from Rugby Australia they threatened to strike. Which would mean replacement players! This has never happened in our game but just think about the PR. “Local player plucked from club football training, kicks winning field goal”. And, it would be the perfect opportunity for Rugby to re-create one of the most iconic scenes in sports movie history.
If you don’t think The Replacements is #1.. then you should at least agree that Shane Falco is the 🐐. pic.twitter.com/Spka6siJkp
— The Vegas Refund (@VegasRefund) August 27, 2019
It still gives me goosebumps!
In the last pay deal, players took between 40 and 75 per cent pay reductions to keep the game from crumbling. Not only did this include all Super Rugby players, but all professional Rugby players in Australia. So, even though revenue for the 7s program wasn’t as significantly affected as the 15-a-side game. The 7s athletes were also asked to take the same pay cut as the super rugby athletes. As yet, it hasn’t been reported whether the 7s athletes have been given the same concessions as the Super Rugby athletes moving forward.
I was able to speak to a couple of Brumbies staff members and a few players. The overwhelming sentiment is that at this point the (Brumbies) players don’t care about their pay. They just want to play. And I for one cannot wait!
The Drop Goal Streak Ends
Thanks a lot, New Zealand. Just when it was starting to get fun you had to go and do the sensible thing and play the percentages.
I have to say late in the Highlander vs Blues game at 24 – 27 I thought the streak was going to continue. But sadly there were no attempts successful for otherwise.
But, not to worry. With 4 games happening this weekend maybe we can reignite the drop goal fire!
Mack Hansen Gets First Start For Brumbies
Normally, a young man making his starting debut for the Brumbies isn’t huge news. However, this young man embodies something that the Brumbies turned away from for a period and have now come full circle.
Mack is Canberra born and bread. He played his junior footy with the Uni-Norths Owls, went to Daramalan College, plays senior footy for the Gungahlin Eagles and, has spent the last few seasons working away quietly in the Brumbies academy.
Not to big-note myself, but during his time at Daramalan College I was lucky enough to coach him during his under 15s and 16s seasons. We fell in the grand final both years to the Tuggeranong Vikings (my senior club).
But even back then, as a fly-half, Mack was able to do things seldom seen on the football field. All the more impressive is that they weren’t feats of athleticism or strength. He had some absolutely brilliant strokes of genius and showcased a football IQ far beyond his years. He was, however, inconsistent and it took us a bit of time to get him to trust his kicking game. But reflecting on our time together, I think he was inconsistent because he was constantly having to slow down so the others could keep up.
I told my Dad (who is very rarely wrong about young players) I suspected he had the potential to be a special talent. After watching him, my Dad agreed. Here’s a taste of what he’s capable of.
😎🔥 Plus500 Brumbies youngster and local product Mack Hansen hot stepping his way through the defence in Griffin Legal John I Dent Cup action last weekend!
🎥 Rork Projects pic.twitter.com/JtHbFMx4aZ
— Plus500 Brumbies (@BrumbiesRugby) July 15, 2019
Hopefully this weekend you guys will get to see our suspicions confirmed.
The Super Rugby Aotearoa vs AU Comparisons are Unavoidable
Even with the time, it’s taken for players to adjust to the new breakdown and offside law interpretations (resulting in 61 penalties in round 1). Super Rugby Aotearoa has been incredibly entertaining. Granted it’s hard to know if that’s because we were starved of Rugby for so long, or, if they’ve genuinely been entertaining.
The games we’ve seen so far, have been very evenly matched. Even the Crusaders 39 – 25 win over the Hurricanes was deadlocked at 25 with 15 minutes to play. Additionally, we’ve been exposed to some very open and free-flowing rugby. Unfortunately, this might not be the case with Super Rugby Au…
Prior to the break, the Brumbies’ (who were sitting 2nd overall) closest game against an Australian opponent was a three-point win over the reds in round 1. Their last? a 33 point drubbing of the Waratahs. I know I’m biased, but I’m yet to hear a reasonable argument that any team other than the Brumbies is going to win this competition.
But here’s hoping that the games not featuring the Brumbies are still of high quality. If nothing else it’ll be great to have the Western Force and their shiny new recruits back playing Super Rugby!