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Andrew Fagan is leaving the Brumbies top job with no regrets


It cost him a friendship but Andrew Fagan is happy with his work at the helm of the club, Chris Dutton writes.

Chief Executive Andrew Fagan.

Chief Executive Andrew Fagan. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Departing ACT Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan will meet with NRL head of football Todd Greenberg next week as he explores opportunities in rugby league, rugby union and Olympic sports.

Fagan finishes his 12-year tenure at the Brumbies on Friday, quitting the last year of his contract to pursue a new challenge in Sydney.

In his departing interview as chief executive, Fagan said:

Former Brumbies coach Andy Friend.

Former Brumbies coach Andy Friend. Photo: Andrew Sheargold

■ Sacking coach Andy Friend early in the 2011 season was the right decision, but the toughest of his career.

■ The death of player Shawn Mackay in 2009 would haunt him forever.

■ Coach Jake White's stint was an ''undeniable success'', despite the South African quitting with two years left of his contract.

Brumbies players gather to applaud former team mate Shawn Mackay in 2009.

Brumbies players gather to applaud former team mate Shawn Mackay in 2009.

■ The club would be defunct and broke had it not been for its on-field success from 2000 to 2004.

■ The Brumbies' move to the University of Canberra and sale of their Griffith headquarters would help set the club up for the next 40 years.

The future

Former Brumbies coach Jake White.

Former Brumbies coach Jake White. Photo: Melissa Adams

Fagan has spent more than a decade with the Brumbies, starting as general manager before taking over as chief executive in 2005.

It's understood Fagan has been contacted about potential jobs in the NRL and union as well as opportunities with Olympic sports.

He was a strong candidate to take charge of NRL club the Canterbury Bulldogs this year, before they appointed Raelene Castle.

''I'm exploring a number of opportunities, some that I haven't been able to pursue properly because I've been at the Brumbies and some that have been presented in recent weeks,'' Fagan said.

''I've worked in professional sport for 22 years. It's what I do and I want to continue doing that.''

Fagan will meet with good friend and former Bulldogs boss Greenberg in Sydney next week, although Fagan said they hadn't spoken about future employment.

''Hopefully I can take six to eight weeks off first and then commence something in the new year. There are some exciting opportunities that I'm looking forward to.''

Andy Friend

The Brumbies hit their lowest point in 2011 when they sacked coach Andy Friend after just two games of the season.

It triggered the worst campaign in the club's history and Fagan, who recommended to the board that Friend be sacked, copped the brunt of criticism.

It was one of the most controversial rugby decisions of Fagan's tenure. Fagan and Friend haven't spoken since.

''It was just the right decision,'' Fagan said. ''It ultimately ended that friendship.

''It was hard because the organisation was doing it tough and it was hard because of the personal vitriol.

''That was a confronting time. I sit back now proudly looking at the period saying we weren't where we needed to be and we had to make some hard calls.

''They were good decisions that ultimately led to us having a leading rugby program again.''

Despite attracting controversy and enemies, Fagan said he would leave Canberra with no regrets.

''All controversy and attacks make you harden up. I've got no regrets for the tough decisions I've made. I've made unpopular decisions but they've always been in the best interests of the Brumbies.''

Shawn McKay

Mackay's death is one of the saddest moments in Brumbies history.

He was hit by a car in Durban on a night out with the Brumbies on their tour of South Africa in 2009.

Mackay was put in an induced coma while his teammates flew back to Australia, but by the time they landed in Sydney, Mackay had had a cardiac arrest and died.

It rocked the Brumbies community and Fagan was the point of contact for Mackay's family.

He gets emotional remembering the phone calls he made to tell parents, John and Leonie, that Mackay had been in an accident.

''It was difficult. To get that phone call, to have to call his parents. You don't want to lose someone on your watch,'' Fagan said.

''That will sort of haunt me forever and I'm sure others in the organisation are the same. It just shouldn't happen.''

Financial stability

The Brumbies have operated at a financial loss for the past two years, but are forecasting a profit this year with details to be revealed at their AGM next week.

Fagan said the organisation would not exist had it not been for the success from 2000 to 2004, during which the club won two championships and played six home finals.

''To be frank, the performances of those teams in that successful era kept the organisation afloat,'' Fagan said. ''It's really, really challenging. It's not just Canberra. The grants that come from the ARU to the states has probably reduced by about $2.5 million a year, less when you include inflation.''

Fagan and the Brumbies have been working for the past six years to get approval for a $30 million, 130-apartment building at their traditional Griffith base. It created controversy for Fagan, but was finally approved this year.

The Brumbies will move to the University of Canberra in March.

''Selling Griffith is without doubt the largest strategic project in the organisation's history,'' Fagan said.

''It came with controversy and I made some enemies along the way, but it provided the organisation with a balance sheet we've never had.

''It cleared out debt and we invested in new facilities that will give us a new home for at least 40 years.

''People will realise in the future how important the partnership with the University of Canberra is.''

Jake White

South African coach White shocked the Brumbies when he abandoned the last two years of his contract, just two months after guiding the club to the Super Rugby final.

Fagan recruited White to rebuild the Brumbies after the disaster of the 2011 season.

White signed a four-year contract to transform the club back into a powerhouse. In his first season the Brumbies fell one win short of the play-offs.

In his second season, the Brumbies beat the British and Irish Lions, ended a nine-year finals drought and lost the Super Rugby final.

White's tenure was plagued by constant speculation he would leave to return to international coaching. ''Jake was a change agent, he was the perfect man for the job and his tenure was undeniably good,'' Fagan said.

''We needed someone who could restructure the entire program, a strong character who knew they'd face challenges. We needed someone with street cred who would demand the respect of the playing group and community.''

Bring back ACT

The Brumbies removed ''ACT'' from their name in 2005 in an attempt to expand their brand beyond Canberra and into southern NSW and Victoria.

They are the only Australian club without a reference to its base in its name. But Fagan admitted it could be time to reintroduce the ACT Brumbies.

''I've expressed my view to the board that the ACT should remain on the table, but maybe be done in consideration with the new structure of the competition in 2016,'' Fagan said.

''It was about trying to expand into that south-east corner of Australia. There's no right and wrong, but decisions aren't forever.

''Given the changes that have happened in the competition, I think (bringing back ACT) should be on the agenda moving forward as a possible return.''

Brumbies jerseys still bear the capital's coat of arms and ''Canberra'', but the move to drop ''ACT'' left loyal supporters disgruntled.

There was speculation the Brumbies were considering a move to Melbourne, but Fagan denied that was discussed.

''There is no doubt this is Canberra's team. We were never going to relocate the team,'' Fagan said.

''[Removing the ACT] did cause some angst but that was rubbish, there was never a single conversation about the Brumbies playing anywhere but Canberra.''


  • Wasn't that when the powers to be wanted to move them to Melbourne.

    Date and time
    December 13, 2013, 11:51AM
    • Perhaps CBR should used instead of ACT? Brumbies CBR has a ring to it.

      Date and time
      December 13, 2013, 12:15PM
      • Nitro Gangster.

        Did you not read the article? That was never going to happen. It was just rumblings made up by disgruntled fans.

        ''There is no doubt this is Canberra's team. We were never going to relocate the team,'' Fagan said.

        Date and time
        December 13, 2013, 12:19PM
        • "Fagan finishes his 12-year tenure on Friday, declaring the club's deal with the University of Canberra and selling its Griffith headquarters had it up for almost 40 years, but at the same time revealed the Brumbies would be broke without the success of the golden era from 2000-04"

          I've read this sentence several times now and still have no idea what it means. SOme sentence structure please.

          Date and time
          December 13, 2013, 12:24PM
          • It was an utterly stupid decision to remove ACT from the name in the first place. I well remember the Brumbies switchboard & website melting down the day it was announced. Either ACT or Canberra (NOT CBR) should be re-instated immediately. It wasn't that they were looking to move south at the time, but they were seeking sponsorship in Melbourne & felt that the "ACT" wouldn't help. In my book though, if you base yourself somewhere & represent that area you should be proud to bear the name. Do you hear, GWS?
            Agree on the sentence structure, it makes no sense whatsoever.

            Date and time
            December 13, 2013, 3:26PM
            • They're getting major financial backing from the ACT Government -- in effect Canberra taxpaying residents -- such as a virtual peppercorn lease on Canberra Stadium. Of course they should have ACT as part of the official name. If someone had tried something like this in South Africa, we'd still be reading about the riots.

              Proudly in Canberra
              Date and time
              December 14, 2013, 1:44PM
          Comments are now closed

          Super Rugby 2015

          Round 1
          Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
          CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
          BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
          Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
          LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
          BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
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          SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
          BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
          WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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          Round 2
          Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
          CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
          REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
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          BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
          HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
          RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
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          STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
          SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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          Round 3
          Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
          HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
          FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
          Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
          CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
          CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
          REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
          Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
          BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
          LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
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          Round 4
          Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
          CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
          BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
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          BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
          RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
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          CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
          STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
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          Round 5
          Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
          HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
          FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
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          CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
          HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
          RED vs BRU 29 Stats
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          STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
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          Round 6
          Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
          HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
          REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
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          CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
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          BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
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          Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
          HUR 36 vs REB 12 Stats
          RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
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          CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
          HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
          WAR 7 vs BLU 6 LIVE Stats
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          SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
          BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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          Round 8
          Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
          HUR vs STO 18:35WS
          REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
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          CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
          BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
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          SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
          LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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          Round 9
          Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
          BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
          Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
          CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
          WAR vs STO 20:40AS
          FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
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          LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
          BUL vs RED 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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          Round 10
          Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
          CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
          Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
          HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
          HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
          BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
          FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
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          SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
          CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
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          Round 11
          Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
          CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
          BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
          Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
          CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
          WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
          Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
          LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
          STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
          RED vs HUR 17:05SS
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          Round 12
          Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
          HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
          BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
          Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
          BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
          HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
          REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
          Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
          CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
          BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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          Round 13
          Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
          CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
          REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
          Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
          HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
          FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
          Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
          LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
          STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
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          Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
          BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
          RED vs REB 20:40SS
          Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
          HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
          WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
          Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
          LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
          CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
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          Round 15
          Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
          CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
          RED vs SHA 20:40SS
          Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
          BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
          WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
          FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
          Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
          CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
          STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
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          Round 16
          Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
          CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
          BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
          Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
          SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
          HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
          FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
          Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
          STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
          LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
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          Round 17
          Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
          HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
          FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
          Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
          REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
          BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
          RED vs CHF 20:40SS
          Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
          CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
          STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
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          Round 18
          Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
          BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
          REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
          Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
          BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
          CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
          WAR vs RED 20:40AS
          Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
          BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
          SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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          Round 19
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          7 vs 7 10:00
          Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
          7 vs 7 10:00
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          Round 20
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          7 vs 7 10:00
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          7 vs 7 10:00
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          Round 21
          Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
          7 vs 7 10:00
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          Super Rugby 2015
          Overall standings
          Team P W L D +/- Pts
          Hurricanes 6 6 0 0 85 27
          Brumbies 6 4 2 0 73 20
          Stormers 6 4 2 0 15 16
          Chiefs 7 5 2 0 46 24
          Sharks 6 3 3 0 5 15
          Waratahs 5 3 2 0 24 14
          Highlanders 6 4 2 0 22 20
          Bulls 5 3 2 0 12 14
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