Rugby Union

Brumbies sponsor Aquis sticking by 'genuine' partnership despite off-field drama

ACT Brumbies major sponsor Aquis says it will stick by the club despite a legal battle between the club's leaders and an ongoing court process that could take months.

Brumbies chief executive Michael Jones will return to his role on Wednesday morning after being granted an injunction to resume duties following the board's decision to stand him down on Monday night.

The Brumbies will consider moving games to Sydney or Queanbeyan if they fail to negotiate a new Canberra Stadium deal.
The Brumbies will consider moving games to Sydney or Queanbeyan if they fail to negotiate a new Canberra Stadium deal. Photo: Melissa Adams

An Aquis spokesperson described Jones as a "reformist" while ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government had "faith in the Brumbies" as ambassadors for Canberra.

It's understood Jones has had contact from several of the club's sponsors over the past 48 hours, backing him in taking a tough stance against critics of his work.

 Aquis joined the Brumbies last year on a record sponsorship deal worth more than $8 million over six years.

"We're aware that it's been a difficult few weeks for the organisation but we've got a partnership with the Brumbies and it's a genuine partnership," an Aquis spokesperson said.

"They are obviously having a very successful year and we're 100 per cent behind them. All organisations go through good times and some difficult times.

"Any management changes don't have an impact on our support and we are committed as their major partner."

ARU boss Bill Pulver was in Canberra earlier this week at the request of Brumbies chairman Robert Kennedy. Pulver and Kennedy also met ACT government officials.

"The ACT government has had a long-term partnership with the ACT Brumbies and that goes beyond individuals in particular roles within their organisation," Barr said.

"We have faith in the Brumbies organisation, faith in the Brumbies as ambassadors for the city of Canberra and importantly we see a strong future partnership."

Barr said the government hoped to use direct international flights to increase cooperation and competition between Canberra and Wellington, including for a possible future Anzac Day clash.

Asked about his relationship with Michael Jones, Barr said he wouldn't comment on individuals.

"My commitment, the commitment of my government and I would expect the commitment of future ACT governments, is to the institutions that are the Brumbies and the ACT. This is beyond individuals," he explained.

"I'm not commenting on private meetings, but what I will indicate is that the ACT government is supportive of the Brumbies organisation. The decision of who the CEO of the organisation is obviously a matter for the Brumbies board and not one that I will comment on."

Barr said he'd received assurances about the club's financial sustainability.

The Brumbies lost $1.68 million last year and the club's finances have dwindled in recent years. One of Jones' edicts when he arrived at the Brumbies was to shake things up and get the club back into profit.

He had been projecting a $2 million turnaround this year to get the Brumbies a profit.

The Brumbies' precarious financial state was one of the reasons the club had baulked at sacking Jones and settling on a severance package for the final two years of his contract.

The ARU could step in to offer financial support for Jones' contract. The ARU moved to allay fears that the Brumbies would go bust, adamant there was no need for officials to step in to take control.

The Brumbies will play the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning (AEDT) as they attempt to finish their South African tour on a high.

The time difference and being in a different country has helped shield the playing group from the drama and the players are determined not to let it affect their performance.