The ACT Brumbies in Canberra form a critical part of Rugby Australia's long-term vision as the country's cash-strapped Super Rugby clubs prepare to walk a financial tightrope.
The Brumbies recorded a $468,484 loss for 2020 as sporting clubs around the globe battled through the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief executive Phil Thomson has labelled it "without doubt, the most challenging season in the Brumbies' history", with the club robbed of the chance to play in front of more than 1500 fans for the bulk of a revamped competition.
Now Australia's five Super Rugby clubs are set for a 30 per cent drop in funding from the governing body as Rugby Australia looks to slash expenses.
But Rugby Australia boss Rob Clarke is committed to keeping five clubs afloat after the Western Force returned to the fold this year.
Murmurs about the Brumbies merging with the Melbourne Rebels again reared their head throughout the year, but Clarke wants it known Rugby Australia see the Brumbies in Canberra as a crucial cog in the machine.
"I don't see the Brumbies moving anywhere, they're a proud team representing this territory and have had great success," Clarke said.
"They're the most successful Super Rugby team we've had. They've got excellent infrastructure here at the University of Canberra and I think they'll continue to remain here representing this territory.
"It's critically important we are a national game. To have Western Force back involved has been a great step forward, and they will be extremely strong next year.
"They're building a great squad, and they will hold their own up very well, and represent us against the Kiwi teams particularly well."
The Brumbies will launch their charge for consecutive Super Rugby AU titles when they face the Force in Perth on February 19 to kick off a 10-round competition.
Australia and New Zealand's Super Rugby sides will play in domestic tournaments before coming together for the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament.
The Brumbies will kick off their campaign a week after the Super Rugby AU final, travelling to Christchurch to take on the Canterbury Crusaders on May 15.
The 10-team competition's top two sides will then meet in a final to crown a champion on June 19.
"We've been talking about it for quite a long time so it's nice to actually bring it to reality," Clarke said.
"It gives our fans and teams certainty now, we have the beginning of what I think will be a great competition for next year and beyond."