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Brumbu Jack

Brumby Jack, merely a show pony, says Tah Man

Waratahs mascot Tah Man has weighed into the controversy over Brumby Jack’s presence at the Super Rugby semi-final, declaring Allianz Stadium a showpony-free zone this weekend.

As the Brumbies and Waratahs tried desperately to defuse the furore surrounding Brumby Jack’s sideline “ban”, the high-strung NSW mascot could not help fanning the fire. “I love animals and horses but I’m not a fan of showponies,” Tah Man told Fairfax Media.

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Tah Man

Tah Man will have the Allianz Stadium sidelines to himself

The Waratahs – Brumbies Super Rugby Semi-Final showdown has been robbed of one of its marquee match-ups, with reports that Brumby Jack has been “banned” from Saturday night’s encounter.

The iconic Brumbies mascot has, according to the Canberra Times, been denied a request to strut his stuff on the field and will instead have to be content with a seat alongside Brumbies supporters in the Allianz Stadium stands.

 

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Laurie Fisher

Laurie Fisher will move to the Aviva Premiership to coach Gloucester this season

For all the talk of players leaving Australian shores, the costliest exit may be Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher, who is bound for Gloucester next year. The Brumbies’ lineout, drive, scrum and defence against the relatively new Chiefs tactic of setting up mauls in general play were the difference in an outstanding qualifying final of tiny margins on Saturday. Not only that, but Fisher worked lineout miracles with emergency hooker Ruaidhri Murphy in the few short weeks since he understandably struggled against the Waratahs. Murphy was like Phil Taylor with his arrows when he came on for the closing stages, even hitting Ben Mowen at the tail of one set-piece. Brilliant work

We don’t always get to hear much about our top-level coaches these days, certainly not much beyond the usual ‘this bloke is rubbish’/’this bloke’s a genius’ debate, but often there are stories and insight to be provided that goes well beyond the standard clichés.

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CrusadersCell C SharksThe Waratahs and Crusaders will be heavily favoured to advance to a Sydney final, but the two Vodacom Super Rugby play-off qualifiers played this weekend did breathe some much needed life into a competition that is sometimes accused of being too predictable.

As expected, the home teams did advance to next week’s round of semifinals, but it was a close run thing in both Canberra and Durban. More than that, the quality of rugby produced, and the entertainment value, was just what the doctor would have ordered if the goal of a medical consultation was to find out what could increase interest for the remaining two weeks.

Of the two winning teams, the Brumbies and the Sharks, it is the former who should go into the semifinals feeling most upbeat. They relaxed when they thought they had the game won and the Chiefs showed their championship qualities one last time before eventually conceding their run of success had come to an end by launching a brave, gutsy and classy fightback.

Once condemned to playing catch-up, the Chiefs produced some of their best rugby in a while, and may well have won had they shown just a bit of temperance in their commitment to attack, for it was their tendency to concede penalties in their own half by trying to play too much rugby there that cost them the game.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight, who was deemed “not good enough” for the Chiefs, is proving all wrong

Brumbies excitement machine Henry Speight didn’t just leave the Chiefs lamenting a qualifying finals loss.

He left their coach Dave Rennie ruing the one “that got away” after his side’s dream of a Super Rugby three-peat came to a crashing end at Canberra Stadium.

And the Chiefs only have themselves to blame.

That’s because Speight not only played for Hamilton Boys High School, but went on to represent the Waikato provincial team – the Chiefs’ feeder club.

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Ben Mowen

Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen in action

BrumbiesACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has lauded the club’s courageous Super Rugby finals win against the Waikato Chiefs as the best performance of the past three years.

But Mowen, the most-capped skipper in Brumbies history, insists the ACT side can improve on its epic eight-try win which ended the Chiefs’ two-year reign as Super Rugby champions.

The Brumbies held on for a cliffhanger 32-30 triumph at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, setting up a likely week-two finals clash against arch rivals the NSW Waratahs next weekend.

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Rod Macqueen

For the Brumbies to win, they need to play “Macqueenball”

They say in sports you have to lose a grand final before you win one. That is the prospect, anyway, facing the ACT Brumbies as they go into a successive Super Rugby finals campaign on Saturday night.

The team they play, the Chiefs, defeated them in the 2013 grand final at Hamilton. It took the All Blacks 24 years to understand that finals rugby is an entirely different ball game from pool-round rugby. After the All Blacks lost in the quarter-finals to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the coaching staff did some deep thinking into how to play finals rugby.

What they discovered is that they needed to have total clarity on how to play each specific final. And they had to have contingency plans for coping with unforeseeable events. The best contingency plan is to score enough points before trouble arrives, as it did for the Brumbies in the last 20 minutes of their final against the Chiefs.

Where the Brumbies need clarity in their qualifying final is knowing whether to play “Jakeball” or “Macqueenball”.

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Super RugbyIt is the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Play-Off games in this Round, as all teams below Log position 6 has now been dispatched and the Top 2 teams have a nice rest weekend, with both games on Saturday.

This is the final crunch to sort the men from the boys, to sort the teams going forward into the Semi-Finals.

The Waratahs and Crusaders sit comfortably at the Top of the table and the Brumbies, Chiefs, Cell C Sharks and Highlanders compete in this Round.

It is winners take all in these Play-Off games, the losers joing the other 9 Teams who have already been dispatched to also-ran’s.

Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.

Let the games continue….

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BrumbiesThe Super Rugby Qualifying Rounds kick off in Canberra on Saturday morning SA time when the ACT Brumbies hosts the current champions, the Chiefs.  The Brumbies ended 4th on the combined Super Rugby log and the Chiefs 5th.

Robbie Coleman returns to the Brumbies starting side on Saturday when his team takes on the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Qualifier at GIO Stadium. Coleman’s elevation to the starting side shifts Clyde Rathbone out of the matchday 23, with rookie prop Allan Alaalatoa’s inclusion on the bench the only other change to last week’s squad.

With seven tries to his name in 2014, Coleman leads the Brumbies try-scoring tally alongside his fellow-back-three member, Jesse Mogg. It’s been a big season for the Brumbies outside backs, with Henry Speight, Joe Tomane, Pat McCabe, Mogg and Coleman combining for a total of 22 five-pointers.

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Jessie Mogg

Jessie Mogg has regained his starting role for the Brumbies after being dropped earlier this season

Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg is using his Super Rugby axing to reignite his passion, admitting he took his position in the team for granted after being the first-choice No.15 for more than two years.

Mogg was benched for the Brumbies’ clash against the Melbourne Rebels in June, with coach Stephen Larkham opting to promote Wallabies warrior Pat McCabe to the starting XV.

But Mogg has regained his fullback jersey after McCabe was injured while on Wallabies duty, and the Wests speedster says being dropped was the wake-up call he needed to help the Brumbies’ charge to the championship.

“It was about me turning things around and working a little bit harder,” he said. “I’ve come back and played solid over the last two weeks, I’ll look to build on that into the finals series.”

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Henry Speight and Joe Tomane

For ACT Brumbies wingers Henry Speight and Joe Tomane, there is a lot to be said for the do, not the least of which is personal comfort

Jake White used to hate the afro hairstyle, insisting that at least one of the ”fro bros” keep things short and tidy.

But for ACT Brumbies wingers Henry Speight and Joe Tomane, there is a lot to be said for the do, not the least of which is personal comfort.

“It’s give and take; you lose a bit of speed with the fro, but you get a lot of comfort,” Speight said.

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BrumbiesChiefsThe Brumbies are determined to avoid getting into a ‘brutal arm-wrestle’ with the two-time defending champion Chiefs.

The two sides meet in Canberra on Saturday in the first match of the 2014 Super Rugby play-offs, a preliminary qualifier.

Having found some late-season form – with victories over the Blues (11-8 this past weekend) and Hurricanes (24-16 the week before) – the Chiefs muscled their way from ninth to fifth on the table in the past fortnight.

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

Sanzar has announced that South Africa’s Craig Joubert and Steve Walsh from Australia will referee the two Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifiers this weekend.

Joubert will be the man in the middle in Canberra, where the Brumbies host the Chiefs, while Walsh will be in action in Durban in the second Qualifier between the Cell C Sharks and the Highlanders.

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imageThe Brumbies will have a chance to avenge their defeat in the Super Rugby Final last year when they face defending champions Chiefs next week.

Under the stewardship of current Sharks coach Jake White, the Brumbies went down in Hamilton to fall short of claiming their third Super Rugby title last year.

Now under the guidance of former Wallabies flyhalf and Brumbies legend Stephen Larkham, the Canberra side comes into the match with a fair maount of confidence given their convincing win over the Force in the last round.

Ben Mowen will become the Brumbies’ most-capped skipper in what might also be his final game for the franchise given that he is heading to France to play for Montpellier.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyLike every fine season of Super Rugby, all is not revealed until the final weekend of the regular season, and the 2014 campaign, and 19th tournament overall of the Southern Hemisphere’s premier provincial competition, will be no different.

However congratulations must be offered to the Waratahs, who offered one piece of clarity over the weekend with their 44-16 win over the Highlanders.

With that, the Waratahs has for the first time qualified as the top-ranked team after the regular season, and become the ninth franchise in history to finish as ‘minor premiers’.

For coach Michael Cheika and his troops, this will be a significant fact even though he was quick to remind all who would listen that the Super Rugby Finals Series would be another step up for a team that looks the goods.

However, as Cheika correctly pointed out, there will be teams with more experience at this stage of the season and this is a crucial factor for potential champions.

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Matt Toomua

Matt Toomua

The Brumbies have called in the cavalry with six highly experienced players returning for Friday’s do or die match with the Force.

Pat McCabe, Matt Toomua, Tom McVerry, Josh Mann-Rea, Sam Carter and Joe Tomane have all been included in the match-day 23 providing the Brumbies with world class talent to chase a spot in the competition’s top six.

Nic White will line up for his 50th cap with the side while Ben Mowen equals George Gregan’s record 49 caps as captain.

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Fotu Auelua

Fotu Auelua

Brumbies cult hero Fotu Auelua has put pen to paper to stay with the club for another season, through to the end of 2015.

With 30 caps to his name, the 30-year-old loose-forward has developed into one of the club’s old heads and was a member of the Brumbies leadership group through pre-season 2014.

Arriving in Canberra from Japan in 2012, Auelua has become a fan favourite over the last three years thanks to his take-no-prisoners approach to getting his side over the advantage line.

Auelua said he was looking forward to another 12 months in the Australian capital.

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WaratahsBrumbiesWestern ForceRedsMelbourne RebelsThe Waratahs are top of the table, three points clear of the Sharks, with guaranteed Super Rugby Finals Series qualification which sees them placed as Australia’s best hope.

The Brumbies and the Force are not out of it yet.

A win to the two-time champions against the Western Australians in Canberra will give them 44-45 points, right on the threshold of what might be the lowest mark to reach the top six.

Meanwhile the Reds and Rebels play for pride.

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Stephen Larkham

Stephen Larkham

Stephen Larkham has committed to another three years as Brumbies Head Coach, taking him through to the end of the 2017 Super Rugby season.

The announcement comes as Laurie Fisher confirmed he will finish his tenure as Director of Rugby with the Brumbies at season’s end to pursue opportunities in Europe.

“It’s a huge moment in my career to be extending my position here. I’ve had a long history with the Brumbies with some success, but the idea of new challenges has made this really exciting for me and my family,” Larkham said.

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Joe Tomane

Joe Tomane

Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie believes Joe Tomane will soon be back in the selection frame for the national team.

The Wallaby and Brumbies wing, Tomane, signed a new two-year deal with the Australia Rugby Union that will take him through until at least the end of 2016.

His signature further bolsters the rich talent available to the Wallabies in the outside backs with Tomane determined to add to the nine caps he has earned since making his debut in 2012.

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BrumbiesThe Brumbies have named their team to play the Waratahs in Sydney with Robbie Coleman winning his 50th cap and prop Ruaidhri Murphy making his first start at hooker.

In the backs Robbie Coleman will celebrate his 50th game on the wing after making his debut against the Reds back in 2010 and has since gone on to cement a spot in the top squad in 2014.

Ruaidhri Murphy will make his first appearance as a hooker on Saturday when the Brumbies travel to Sydney to take on the Waratahs.

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Matt Toomua

Matt Toomua

The Brumbies hopes of reaching the 2014 Super Rugby finals have been dealt a blow as Wallabies star Matt Toomua has joined an joined a growing list of casualties.

The Canberra based Super Rugby franchise are now feeling the cost of a three week break for the June Internationals which has left several key players in doubt for this week’s match against the Waratahs on Saturday.

Toomua (adductor), Josh Mann-Rea (hamstring) and Joseph Tomane (cheekbone), will all have scans on Monday to determine whether they will be able to play against the Waratahs at ANZ Stadium.

Pat McCabe has a shoulder problem and is being considered as a 50-50 chance to play while Sam Carter is still wearing a moon boot and is in a race to reach fitness for the match against the Western Force on 11 July.

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