ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has slammed Super Rugby organisers for scheduling a January kick-off for the first time in history, describing the heat on Friday night as "dangerous".
The blue skies hid the real chaos before the Brumbes' first game of the season as a state of emergency was declared in the ACT for the first time since 2003.
The smoke rising above Black Mountain was a reminder of the imminent threat to suburbs in the south and the 39.5 degree temperature was a brutal welcome to the rugby year.
McKellar was well aware of it all before he had even left his Chapman home. Police officers and Army personnel were knocking on doors in his street telling people to prepare their fire plans.
If that wasn't unnerving enough, the Brumbies had to run on to the field in extreme conditions. And even though they held on to beat the Queensland Reds 27-24, McKellar was still seething.
Asked what he thought of the January 31 kick-off, McKellar said: "We talk about player welfare ... we've got big men running around. They're in good condition, but I'm hoping round one next year is not anywhere near January 31.
"You're limited with your preparation time and it's dangerous. It really is. I'm sure the people [who make decisions] will look at it."
Fans were drenched in as much sweat as the players after an absorbing match, which started with an Irae Simone try and finished with rookie Noah Lolesio slotting an ice-cool penalty for the win.
The 7436 crowd was small for an Australian derby, but it's hard to blame anyone who stayed away given the circumstances for Canberra and the surrounding regions.
"It puts it into reality. I pulled out of my garage door at 3.30 this afternoon to go to the office and there were two police officers and a couple of members of the Army Reserve starting door knocks around Chapman," McKellar said.
"It puts it in perspective ... that was something we spoke about before the game and hopefully we put a smile on a few people's faces tonight.
"We feel for all the people. It's not a pleasant time for Australia and the ACT."
On the field, the Brumbies started like men on a mission. Simone scored the first try after four minutes and the Brumbies bombed another a few minutes later.
The Reds took advantage of that mistake, muscling their way into the contest and then turning to a former Brumby to get them back in the game.
Henry Speight scored a try which would have been so familiar to Brumbies fans, slicing through the defence and becoming the first player in Super Rugby history to score a try against every team in the competition.
The Reds led 17-7 at half-time after Bryce Hegarty scored, but the Brumbies regrouped at the break and found their rhythm again.
First it was Tom Wright, who made up for his earlier mistake to tip toe down the sideline for a brilliant try following a Lolesio cut-out pass.
Folau Faingaa was next, scoring at the back of a rolling maul and then Tom Banks put the result seemingly beyond doubt with his blistering pace.
When first-gamer Lolesio converted a penalty, the Brumbies looked home. The Reds had other ideas, with Harry Wilson scoring at the death to set up a tense finish.
"We definitely felt [the heat], but I'm just proud of the way the boys dug deep and came out of that," said captain Allan Alaalatoa.
"The momentum shifted ... I was proud of how we came out in the second half and we can continue to build on that."
AT A GLANCE
ACT BRUMBIES 27 (Irae Simone, Tom Wright, Folau Faingaa, Tom Banks tries; Noah Lolesio 2 conversions, penalty) bt QUEENSLAND REDS 24 (Henry Speight, Bryce Hegarty, Harry Wilson tries; Bryce Hegarty 3 conversions, penalty) at Canberra Stadium on Friday night. Referee: AJ Jacobs. Crowd: 7436