The ACT Brumbies have sought permission from the GWS Giants to use Manuka Oval during the AFL season for what the club hopes will be a 25th year celebration.
The Canberra Times can reveal the Brumbies have submitted a proposal to the ACT government to play a heritage match at Manuka to mark 25 years of Super Rugby in the capital.
It is hoped the government will agree to shift their game against the Cape Town Stormers on May 9 across town in an attempt to create a more intimate atmosphere for a traditionally low-drawing opponent.
But the Brumbies' first call was to the Giants, who have first rights to use Manuka Oval for six months of the year as part of their 10-year, $23 million deal with the government.
The Giants play three premiership games per season at Manuka Oval and part of their contract involves having first rights of refusal for the venue from February 1 to August 31 of every year of the deal.
As per section four of the agreement, the government "acknowledges that the AFL has the first right over all other events at Manuka Oval to fixture the matches at Manuka Oval".
The Giants have agreed to the Brumbies' request, pending the government's decision and costs.
"The government has received a request from the Brumbies to play a possible Super Rugby match at Manuka Oval," a government spokeswoman said.
"Commercial agreements currently in place will need to be considered should a Brumbies match be moved to Manuka Oval. The government is currently considering the proposal."
The Brumbies are hoping crowds will improve next year after a disappointing numbers trickled through the gates this season, despite the club charge to the semi-finals.
The idea to play a South African opponent at Manuka is recognition of the past and comes 25 years after Joe Roff scored four tries in a 44-31 win against the Natal Sharks in 1996.
The Giants will play three matches at Manuka Oval in 2020, but have scrapped plans for a pre-season match because of the government's commitment to five women's Twenty20 World Cup games at the end of January.
The Giants will play games at Manuka Oval on April 3, April 26 and August 1 next year, clearing the way for a schedule clash.
But the Brumbies must now seek approval from the government, and while it is thought they will rubber stamp the move, the costs of the move still loom as a stumbling block.
It's understood the Brumbies could have to pay extra to play at Manuka because they will need a temporary big screen, extra toilets and more food and beverage vendors.
Super Rugby games against South African opponents are traditionally hard to sell to fans in Australia and the Brumbies believe they will attract a bigger crowd if there is a novelty and historic factor.
"The AFL does not have exclusive rights to Manuka Oval in any given year," a government spokeswoman said.
"The contractual arrangements indicate that the AFL has a 'priority access' period in place during the AFL premiership season which allows them first right of refusal.
"There are no penalty fees if other sports use Manuka Oval during the AFL season."
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The government says the women's Twenty20 World Cup will have "exclusive rights" to use Manuka Oval from February 5 until March 9.
The Giants have also started negotiations with the government to extend their 10-year performance agreement to play in Canberra.
The Brumbies and the Canberra Raiders are closely watching those developments as both teams prepare to start their performance and venue hiring agreements for 2020 and beyond.