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African connection cooks up plot to put Brumbies on top

Brumbies players Ruan Smith, Ian Prior, Etienne Oosthuizen, Stephan Van Der Watt and Mark Swanepoel enjoy a barbecue on ...

Brumbies players Ruan Smith, Ian Prior, Etienne Oosthuizen, Stephan Van Der Watt and Mark Swanepoel enjoy a barbecue on Saturday. Photo: Colleen Petch

IT'S HARDLY a traditional braai and there's no springbok on the menu, but a small balcony in Lyneham is where the ''African National Congress'' meets to lay the foundation for ACT Brumbies success.

And if halfback Ian Prior gets his way, biltong - an African version of beef jerky - will become a regular on the Brumbies' menu as the club attempts to end its finals drought.

The Brumbies boast an African connection unmatched by any team in Australia or New Zealand.

With coach Jake White leading the charge, he's recruited seven players with African heritage. Teammates have dubbed them the ''African National Congress''.

Once a week they meet for a braai - a barbecue - at the home of Ruan Smith and Etienne Oosthuizen.

For them, it's a home away from home where they can speak Afrikaans and settle into life in Canberra.

Prior has his own biltong machine and is testing some samples to see if athletic performance director Dean Benton will allow it in the Brumbies' kitchen.

It might seem strange. But Smith insists it is fast-tracking the bond within the team and easing any homesickness.

''It definitely makes you feel like you're at home,'' Smith said.

''Maybe we'll get Jake around sometime as well … this is definitely helping settle into Canberra.

''We don't mind if they call us the South African Brumbies … there's heaps of different cultures in the team so it can't hurt having a South African flavour.''

Smith, Oosthuizen, Clyde Rathbone, Stephan Van Der Walt and Mark Swanepoel all have South African heritage while Prior and David Pocock grew up in Zimbabwe.

When White took over last season he implemented a game style which drew comparisons to South Africa's Super Rugby teams.

Some have even dubbed the team the ''Biltong Brumbies''.

But that doesn't faze the latest batch of recruits. While they have African heritage, all qualify to play for Australia and do not fill the Brumbies' foreign player spots.

''There's the 'Community' of Islander players and they called us the 'African National Congress' and then there's the Aussies in the team,'' Smith said.

''It's a little rivalry in the way … we haven't taken each other on at the moment but when the season starts up it will be much more competitive.''

The biggest problem they face is staying fit after a braai and some biltong.

Prior is in his second year with the Brumbies.

He grew up in Zimbabwe and moved to Brisbane before joining the Brumbies.

''I think the only way Ruan knows how to cook is on the barbecue,'' Prior said.

''The numbers of Africans have really skyrocketed this year. Our clique isn't as strong as the 'Community'. But we get on well, have a lot in common and can chat about anything.

''My dad made me a biltong machine and when I get Dean's approval, hopefully we can get all the boys on it, but I'll test it on myself first. I don't want to make anyone sick.''

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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