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Where have the Canberra crowds gone?


Chris Dutton and Lee Gaskin

There were plenty of empty seats at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

There were plenty of empty seats at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

ACT Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher believes Super Rugby needs to expand its fan base beyond the "hardcore supporters" with the club's lowest crowd in 15 years set to cost the outfit up to $30,000.

Just 7129 fans watched the Brumbies beat the Auckland Blues 26-9 on Friday night, as dismal weather contributed to the lowest attendance at a Canberra Stadium Super Rugby contest since a tiny 4000 in 1999.

It was the sixth-lowest crowd at Canberra Stadium for Brumbies and Canberra Raiders games in 15 years.

The disappointing turnout will send warnings to the Raiders and AFL's Greater Western Sydney, who go head-to-head with cross-town, cross-code fixtures in Canberra on Saturday.

The Raiders will play their second home game against the Newcastle Knights at 3pm at Canberra Stadium while the Giants will play the first of their AFL matches in the capital against the Western Bulldogs at 4.40pm at Manuka Oval.

The schedule clash could affect crowds at both venues and, when they competed in April last year, the Giants attracted almost 1500 more fans than the Raiders.

The Brumbies had hoped for at least 10,000 supporters, but two days of rain, which forced the ACT government to close all sport venues over the weekend, limited walk-up sales as fans opted to stay at home or watch from the pub.

All codes, including the NRL and AFL, have been down on crowd numbers this year.

The Brumbies are hoping an Anzac Day grand final rematch against the Waikato Chiefs will boost crowd figures and help them recoup the financial losses of the game against the Blues.

"We've got a hardcore group and then there's a group that comes on entertainment and spectacle," Fisher said.

"I guess what we have to do is increase the hardcore rugby supporters so if rain, hail or shine, you get 12,000 instead of 7000.

"We have to work to get that group of people together. One of the challenges of rugby is whether it's more entertainment or to say, 'here's a team representing your region that's showing good character and working hard'.

"In Europe, it's about supporting a team. You're not a fan, you're a rusted-on supporter who's part of the team."

The Raiders have played just one home game this season, attracting 9636 against the Gold Coast Titans, which was more than a 1000 increase on the corresponding fixture two years ago.

They have played four of their first five games on the road, but will return to Canberra to play against the Newcastle Knights this week and are eager to make amends for their disappointing showing in a 24-12 loss to the Titans.

"Hopefully we can make up for our last efforts at home, it was probably our worst performance of the year,'' Terry Campese said.

"We want to get back and make the home crowd proud again.''

The Brumbies rely on walk-up ticket sales to boost crowd numbers with every 1000 fans representing about $10,000.

The Brumbies battled against the Canberra Show and Skyfire for their two big-selling home games against the Reds and Waratahs, attracting 13,670 and 17,016 respectively.

One of the biggest challenges in Super Rugby is selling tickets to games against international teams who don't have supporters in Australia.

More than 11,000 fans watched the Brumbies beat the Cape Town Stormers.

"Watching it on TV is now so good it gives people an excuse to stay home or watch it in the pub," Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards said.

"We met with one of the hotels and they showed us a video. There were 57 people there wearing a Brumbies jumper during the game. That means people are still proud and want to support their team, but it's easier for them not to go to the ground.

"That's something we have to work on and all sports do. We've put a band on and are trying to increase game-day entertainment. It can be done, they've done it in the Twenty20 cricket."


  • One - supporter bays so you don't have to put up with morons from out of town who spend the night bagging everything. Two - re-issue the concessions to a company that will sell food and drink (especially beer) at reasonable prices. At least you can get a decent coffee now at GIO Stadium. I had one once that I would only wish on my worst enemy. Three - some decent half time entertainment. What the Raiders deliver is cheap and amateurish. I can't even remember what the Brumbies did at halftime in the game against the Reds. Four - warm up the crowd before kick-off. Someone who can deliver more than the usual "are there any X fans in the house?" routine. I can build up more anticipation for a game when I'm at home than when I've been to some games.

    Home Not Alone
    Date and time
    April 06, 2014, 11:24PM
    • Gees mate, you call yourself a 'supporter' and you want half time entertainment. That's the time set aside for discussion with your mates about what just went right (or wrong). The last thing any of the codes is dancing bears at half time.

      wear the fox hat
      Date and time
      April 07, 2014, 6:24AM
    • The food costs at the footy are reasonable. They sell $10 kebabs which are excellent. Ive bort them at the last 3 Raiders games and they were top notch. Kebabs near to my work in Barton cost $9.

      Now people dont attend Raiders games because this team gets almost no FTA TV games from Ch9, ergo there is no buzz nor publicity around the team. You feel you are part of a greater audience if the game is shown live on TV. In the 2012 finals series the Raiders virtually sold out vs Cronulla - 24,000 fans.

      Date and time
      April 07, 2014, 8:30AM
    • @ wear the fox hot - you've missed the point. The question is about how to attract "new" supporters to the game. "Home not alone" has made some decent suggestions. As someone who lived in the UK for a large number of years after Uni, I can say Australian fans are (generally) THE worst. I went to football (that's soccer here) , rugby, cricket matches pretty much every single week....and every week, in every code, the supporters were a million times better. The author is spot on when they say Europeans (and the US seems to be the same) have die-hard supporters....they're just a little bit blase and blah here. Didn't used to be like that. I remember growing up (and supporting the Eels....Sterlo!!!) and the stadium was packed and loud....funny....the population were fitter and slimmer back then too....maybe our love affair with sport died out at about the same time our waist lines started expanding?!!??

      Date and time
      April 07, 2014, 9:20AM
    • Of course tickets and parking are expensive, the ground isn’t used enough. The playing surface should never have been made smaller to exclude AFL or cricket.

      Any new stadium should be big enough for all the popular sports in Australia, not just limited to a few.

      Of course this will be rejected by the NRL trying to stop AFL moving into its turf, and also Soccer which as a new-born summer sport is hoping to knock off Cricket. Accordingly the people of Canberra get second best in the silly fight between the codes.

      Any new stadium should be for all citizens of Canberra and have re-configurable seating to make sure it is used as much as possible to keep prices down.

      Date and time
      April 07, 2014, 10:35AM
  • I suggest that the Brumbies don't hire security guards whose sole purpose seems to be to ensure that people with General Admission tickets don't sit in VACANT seats in other areas. What is the point of this? Especially when it is raining. Just nasty. A great way to discourage people from attending games.

    Date and time
    April 07, 2014, 3:59AM
    • The one brand of beer available is overpriced and very ordinary! But different to the pub!

      Date and time
      April 07, 2014, 4:20AM
      • My daughter and I were members from 2004 until 2011 when we finally decided that we would no longer get season passes. Canberra Stadium food prices etc was part of the reason plus the ground announcer that treated us all like small children telling us when to cheer became very irritating. I completed a lengthy surgery that year on why we weren't renewing our membership but would continue to support the Brumbies and go to games.
        I've never received any more correspondence from the Brumbies since then. No emails, no more weekly updates, nothing to us as past members with advice when the new memberships are on sale. It's as if we no longer exist.
        I'm sure we are not the only ones that this happened to. And plenty people left after the disappointing 2011 season.

        Date and time
        April 07, 2014, 5:24AM
        • Look at the prices charged to start with! Your hit with $7 parking fee before you get out of your car, then for a family of 4 2A 2C $113.00 plus a $5.50 booking fee to Ticketek and your up for $125.50 to get in the door! GIO Stadium & Others look at prices and then you may get a decent crowd support! When people are faced with those costs plus the weather, no wonder people choose to stay away!

          Date and time
          April 07, 2014, 6:35AM
          • Yep. Unavoidable Ticketek booking fee is a disgrace.

            Date and time
            April 07, 2014, 7:30AM

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        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
        Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
        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
        Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
        HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
        RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
        Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
        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
        Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
        RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
        Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
        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
        Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
        HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
        RED vs BRU 29 Stats
        Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
        STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
        CHT 10 vs SHA 27 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
        Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
        Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
        BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
        SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
        WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
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        Round 7
        Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
        HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
        RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
        Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
        CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
        HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
        WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
        Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
        SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
        BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
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        Round 8
        Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
        HUR vs STO 18:35WS
        REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
        Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
        CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
        BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
        Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
        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
        Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
        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
        Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
        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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        Round 14
        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
        Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
        7 vs 7 10:00
        Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
        7 vs 7 10:00
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        Round 20
        Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
        7 vs 7 10:00
        Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
        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
        Sharks 7 4 3 0 11 19
        Chiefs 7 5 2 0 46 24
        Bulls 6 4 2 0 24 18
        Waratahs 6 4 2 0 36 18
        Highlanders 6 4 2 0 22 20
        Stormers 6 4 2 0 15 16
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