Rugby Union


ACT Brumbies and GWS Giants clash over Anzac Day scheduling

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The sporting turfwar in Canberra has erupted again, ACT Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards saying the Super Rugby club has had the "rug pulled out from underneath" it by the local government's support for an AFL game in Canberra on Anzac Day next year.

The frustrated Brumbies boss threatened Super Rugby may even look to go head-to-head against the AFL and the Greater Western Sydney Giants, playing their Anzac match at the same twilight timeslot on Saturday, April 25.

The Giants have announced they will play an Anzac Day match at Manuka Oval next year, and the AFL club is campaigning for a heavyweight Melbourne club such as Hawthorn or Geelong.

But Edwards claims the Brumbies have been pushed from their preferred Anzac Day timeslot to accommodate the out-of-town AFL team, criticising a lack of consultation from the ACT Government.

The Brumbies want to establish an annual Anzac Day fixture against a New Zealand opponent, having launched the initiative in Canberra this year when more than 16,000 fans attended their match against the Waikato Chiefs.

The Brumbies are set to play the Otago Highlanders in Canberra on Anzac weekend when the Super Rugby draw is finalised in the next month, but the Brumbies requested a Friday night match after advice that a Saturday game would conflict with a 100th anniversary commemoration of Gallipoli at the War Memorial that evening. The commemoration has since moved to Sunday, enabling the AFL match to be scheduled.


"If we would have known there was an opportunity for us to play on the Saturday we would have pushed for that, we moved back to the Friday out of respect for what the War Memorial are trying to do," Edwards said.

"We thought it's 100 years of Gallipoli, the last thing we should be doing is competing against the War Memorial ... Then all of a sudden, up pops an AFL game on Anzac Day, it's bizarre.

"We're trying to create something in Canberra and you get the rug pulled out from underneath you really. We would have played on Anzac Day and we still may. For the government to have another game on Anzac Day in Canberra without even coming to us amazes us."

Edwards said he would consult with Super Rugby ruling body SANZAR on Monday and did not rule out a scheduling clash.

"It's ideal not to have the two games up against each other, but we're the ones who showed the initiative. We're the ones trying to create something for Canberra, we're the local club. Then to fly a [AFL] club in for a game, it's frustrating."

The 10-year-deal for the Giants to play three premiership games in Canberra has caused angst among the territory's sporting clubs. The Canberra Raiders have been vocal opponents.

"They're trying hard to reach into Canberra, but what does GWS stand for ... it's Greater Western Sydney," Edwards said. "They're trying to capture Canberra as their second port of call, that's fine, but we've also got a role to play in this city. We've got a lot of people who live here, work here, spend money in this city and it would be nice to be on an equal playing field."

Deputy chief minister Andrew Barr denied a lack of consultation and said the government's preference was always to avoid fixture clashes.

"My very clear understanding was Brumbies Friday, AFL Saturday and there's a range of other events on Sunday. That's how we've gone into it, what more can you do."

The Giants attracted 10,211 fans to their match against the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Manuka Oval on Saturday, their second-best premiership crowd of nine AFL premiership game in Canberra.

Giants chief executive Dave Matthews urged for collaboration.  

"We should always be working hard to make sure we don't clash with each other," he said. "Canberra deserves its presence in rugby union, rugby league and AFL, the less we conflict with each other from a scheduling point of view the better. I think it's going to be a fantastic weekend.

"We've been working for some time on trying to get a game on Anzac Day, trying to fit into the AFL schedule. It's not something new and it's not a decision that contemplates what the other codes are doing except I think it's a nice outcome not to go head-to-head."