Don’t tell the Waratahs their Brumbies rivalry has gone flat


“If the Waratahs are good enough to beat us, I’m more than happy to have a beer with anyone who wants to have a beer with me,” Nobbs said. “My phone was pinging a fair bit [last year in the dying stages]. The idea behind it was to try and get some people down from Sydney. They used to come down in busloads. It’s a pity that people in Sydney don’t want to support it. The game is still a significant one for us. We’re going for 12 straight, which is great.”

Try telling the Waratahs the rivalry is dead. Assistant coach Jason Gilmore bristled at the suggestion on Thursday.

“Probably to an administrator it is [but] if you look at the way the two teams have battled it out, it doesn’t look dead to me,” Gilmore said. “Whether it’s dead or not, I’ll let a bloke behind a desk describe it as that. I know from the footy team point of view, this is a big game.”

The Waratahs (10th on the Super Rugby ladder) and Brumbies (third) will come together on a night where most of the East Coast will turn its clocks back an hour to mark the end of daylight savings.

If only NSW could turn theirs back a decade. From 2010 to 2015, the Waratahs managed eight wins from 12 matches against the Brumbies, including a memorable 2014 Super Rugby semi-final victory in Sydney.

Since then, NSW have lost 14 of its last 15 games against the Brumbies. The past four have been decided by seven points or less, but icing games hasn’t been the Waratahs’ strongest suit recently.

When Super Rugby began in 1996, Brumbies players were often regarded as misfits and rejects who couldn’t get a go in Sydney. A pay disparity also fuelled the hatred that has lasted close to three decades.

Players will tell you they still circle the game on the calendar at the start of the Super Rugby, but the rivalry appears to have lost some of its edge. Their recent record makes the Waratahs firm underdogs, despite a strong starting XV.

Since 1996, the Waratahs have beaten the Brumbies just four times in Canberra; in 2005, 2011, 2015 and 2018. NSW will board their bus on Friday for the trip down the Hume Highway fighting to salvage their season after five losses from six matches.

NSW back-rower Lachlan Swinton is set to play in 50th Super Rugby match and, having debuted in 2019, has never beaten the Brumbies.

Lachlan Swinton will play his 50th Super Rugby match on Saturday night.

Lachlan Swinton will play his 50th Super Rugby match on Saturday night.Credit: Getty

“I guess it gets somewhat personal in a way,” Swinton said. “We’re going down there swinging. When we’ve been in these positions, we’ve shown up.”

Gilmore described recent results as “frustrating”.

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“They’re obviously the benchmark,” said Gilmore of the Brumbies. “It’s always intense.”

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham, a star player during the team’s infancy in the late 1990s and early 2000s, played a straight bat when asked about the rivalry between the sides.

“The build-up will be pretty big on game day for us. It’s been driven internally by the players,” Larkham said. “They’ve been really close in four or five games this season … and I’m sure their supporters will think this is the weekend [to come to Canberra].”

NSW Rugby boss Paul Doorn texted this masthead on Thursday afternoon: “I’m looking forward to Matt shouting me a beer.”



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