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The ACT Brumbies can play two-up in their Anzac day blockbuster at Canberra Stadium, but Super Rugby's ruling body has banned national anthems.
SANZAR has sapped some of the Anzac spirit out of the April 25 grand final rematch between the Brumbies and New Zealand's Waikato Chiefs, denying a request from the Brumbies for the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand to be played prior to kick-off.
The ACT Brumbies have been trying to heavily promote the commemorative match and are lobbying SANZAR to host an an Anzac game in Canberra on an annual basis, following the successful tradition established in rival footy codes the AFL and NRL.
Nic White and Scott Fardy wearing the Brumbies' Anzac jersey. Photo: Jay Cronan
The Last Post will be played and Corporal Mark Donaldson, one of four Victoria Cross recipients attending the Brumbies match, will read The Ode.
But SANZAR won't allow the anthems, given it contravenes rules in the tournament's operation manual.
A SANZAR spokesperson said anthems were reserved for international matches and rules restricted them from being played before any Super Rugby games, even finals.
The AFL and NRL have each established strong traditions on Anzac Day, with both codes having three games each on April 25,
The Anzac match between Essendon and Collingwood has sold out the MCG since 1995, while St George Illawarra Dragons and the Sydney Roosters began their NRL Anzac rivalry in 2002.
The NRL's Melbourne Storm will host an Anzac day game against the New Zealand Warriors and Storm chief executive Mark Evans said both country's anthems would be played prior to kick-off.
“That is absolutely bonkers, and I’m a Brit,” Evans said of SANZAR's ruling.
The Brumbies launched a commemorative Anzac Day jersey at the War Memorial on Thursday, which they will wear during the game.
Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards admitted the club had approached SANZAR for an exemption to play the anthems, but had accepted the ban.
Edwards said it would not diminish the Anzac experience. There will be a curtain-raiser between the Royal Military College and Australian Defence Force Academy, a military band and even two-up venues around the stadium.
"I don't think SANZAR controls two-up, that's a local regulation'' Edwards said.
"They refused it [the anthems], it's a blanket rule and they said if you do it once you've got to do it for every game," Edwards said.
"So we move on, it's no big deal for us. I think it will be pretty special with the Last Post and all that we've got planned."
The Brumbies are preparing a submission to have an annual Anzac Day weekend match against a New Zealand opponent.
Brumbies and Australian Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White hoped the anthems could become a feature in the future if the tradition continued.
"I'm sure they'd be able to change it if they made it an annual Anzac Day fixture,'' White said.
"I'm sure they wouldn't mind turning a blind-eye maybe for one day a year. Maybe if they knew how much it meant to everyone then maybe they might let it happen."
Canberra will also host a trans-Tasman netball match on Anzac day between the NSW Swifts and New Zealand's Southern Steel. The match will have commemorative features, but will also not involve anthems due to broadcasting restrictions.
National President of the Returned and Service League Rear Admiral Ken Doolan said the RSL supported Anzac matches across all sport and didn't feel the ban on anthems was disrespectful.
"We don’t as a national body seek to intervene in any of those things, what goes on at such things is really a case for local organisers. We don’t make a stand on that,” Doolan said.
“It’s worth noting that at the national ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra only three people are usually received on parade - the Governor General, the Prime Minister and the New Zealand High Commissioner. The New Zealand part of Anzac is specifically recognised by that act.”