ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has launched a passionate plea for fans to give his team the backing it deserves, urging lost supporters to let go of old grudges to help break a 22-year-old record.
The Brumbies romped to their 10th consecutive home win on Friday night, beating the Melbourne Rebels 39-26 in a display a brilliant attacking rugby.
But just 7098 fans were in the stands, which was less than the round one attendance when a state of emergency was declared in the ACT.
McKellar is trying to change the perception of rugby in Canberra and erase the angry memories of past boardroom divides, the legal battle of 2016 and fan resentment.
"It's time to move on," McKellar said. "There's so much positivity, and even though there's 7000 there you can feel the buzz.
"You can feel a stronger connection. Right now it's just about moving forward, we need the region's support."
The Brumbies endured a tough decade between 2010-19, watching crowds decline and battling off-field dramas year after year.
The off-field sideshows detracted from the rugby, but McKellar wants a new era on the field to be mirrored by renewed support.
McKellar's coaching staff and 20 players stood in the rain at Braidwood on Saturday to help raise money for the bushfire-affected region.
They will back up again at a fan day at the University of Canberra on Sunday before starting preparations for a clash against the Otago Highlanders, which will double as the Super W season-opener.
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The players have been told to do community work to earn points for inter-squad mini-teams challenges, and McKellar will visit every premier division club this year for coaching sessions.
It's a clear attempt to mend the broken bridges, which were burned by previous administrators and boardroom wars.
But the Brumbies are not alone in their battle to get fans through the gates. Attendance and broadcast numbers are down across all franchises.
The hope, McKellar says, is being able to win games by playing a style to make fans proud. The Brumbies have won their first two games for the first time since 2016 and are chasing the longest home winning streak in the club's history after the 1996-98 teams won 13 in a row in Canberra.
"Let's crawl before we walk, let's aim for 10,000 [fans] this week," McKellar said.
"I feel there's a genuine connection with the community now. We had 20 guys go out to Braidwood in their own time, let's move on from past periods that weren't shining lights.
"There's good times ahead. It's going to be dry, so get out here and enjoy the momentum we're building, and watching some exciting young talent who are the future of this club and Australian rugby."
The Brumbies turned on attacking masterclass to blow the Rebels away in the first half of their round-two clash.
Flick passes, grubbers, linebreaks and offloads led to four tries and a 24-0 lead before the Rebels knew what hit them.
It was an impressive performance from the team of a new era, although McKellar knows there will be ups and downs this season as young players adjust to professional rugby.
The Brumbies decided against trying to lure big names to replace departed stars this year, banking on players they've nurtured in the Canberra club rugby system.
Flyhalf Noah Lolesio has already repaid them, showing sublime skills and composure in the first two games of his career.
Off the field, Brumbies officials have tried to overhaul the game-day experience after hosting fan forums last year.
Brumbies chief executive Phil Thomson has previously warned about the perils of persistent low attendance figures.
Average crowds have been at their lowest point in the past two years, but it was hoped the 25th anniversary season of Super Rugby would remind supporters of the sport's glory years.
The Brumbies will shift a game to Manuka Oval in May in a nod to the club's heritage and has invited inaugural players from 1996 into the inner sanctum to merge the past and future.
- Meet the players at the University of Canberra between 10am-12pm on Sunday.
SUPER RUGBY ROUND THREE
Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Otago Highlanders at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.