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UC Brumbies win despite clash with Skyfire

University of Canberra Brumbies or Skyfire? That was the choice that many Canberrans faced on the weekend, when a fixture clash resulted in both events being held on the same night.

University of Canberra - rUCkus Crew
University of Canberra – rUCkus Crew

Skyfire is an annual event on the Canberra calendar with an average of 100,000 Canberrans flocking to the fireworks display ever year, and the Brumbies vs. Waratahs matches are built on a fierce rivalry dating back to the start of Super Rugby way back in 1996.

Canberra FM General Manager Eoghan O’Byrne was disappointment that an alternative couldn’t have been reached for both events.

“It is unfortunate that this clash has occurred. Both organisations have a fantastic working relationship and we [Canberra FM] were in constant communication regarding the dates,” he said.

Mr O’Byrne said that it was a difficult situation for the University Canberra Brumbies who have to negotiate their fixture around teams from both South Africa and New Zealand.

“Skyfire 2014 date was set last March and communicated to the Brumbies but with all respect to the Brumbies, they have three countries to deal with and I think on this occasion they had no option but to take the date given to them.”

This was the second consecutive home game in which the Brumbies had to deal with an outside event causing a drop in crowd figures. The Brumbies’ first game home game was scheduled on the same weekend as the Canberra Show.

That game was marred by membership ticketing problems which saw up to 500 potentially new members turned away, as staff worked to rectify the mishap.

Last year’s match between the Brumbies and Waratahs managed to attract 20,027 people. It’s likely that the first home game bungle, inclement weather, and the Skyfire clash contributed to the decline in crowd numbers this year to 17,016.

Kate from Ngunnawal signed up her family as Brumbies members in round one and said that nothing was going to stop them from going to the game this week.

“It’s a big game on the rugby calendar and they [the Brumbie] have big rivalry with them [the Waratahs],” she said. “It’s sad because my friend is down from Orange for Skyfire and I won’t be able to spend any time with her while she is here. But there was no way we were going to miss this match.”

Canberrans who did turn up to the Brumbies were treated to a thrilling game which came down to the wire when Brumbies’ Nic White kicked a goal in the dying seconds to seal the 28-23 victory over their bitter rivals.

GIO Canberra Stadium
GIO Canberra Stadium

This continued a sequence of home victories during matches between the two teams: in all matches between them, the away team has managed to win on just two occasions.

Those who chose the Skyfire option were treated to over 2000 aerial fireworks and 10,000 shooting comets and fly-by from an RAAF Hornet.

Amongst the entertainment was ex-Canberran Timomatic, the annual fireworks display took five months to plan and lasted just over 18 minutes.

Text and images by Brent Ford

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