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THAT Penalty Goal and a Brotherly Bond Like No Other, Q&A with Brumbies scrum-half Ryan Lonergan

The siren went 90 seconds ago, it’s 24-24 between the Brumbies and Rebels at Canberra stadium.

The Brumbies are still marching down the field looking for a way to win the game. They find themselves on the halfway line about five metres in from touch and the referee blows a penalty.

Standing right next to the referee with a look of anguish on his face is Brumbies scrum-half Ryan Lonergan. This is the moment he has always dreamed of.

It’s now 3 minutes since the siren went and Lonergan steps up to take the penalty goal. We know what happens from here, the ball clears the crossbar by a matter of millimetres, Ryan Lonergan puts both arms in the air and is swamped by his Brumbies teammates including younger brother Lachlan or ‘Noss’ as he’s known.


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It’s a pretty special relationship, that of the Lonergan brothers. When Ryan Lonergan talks, he constantly says ‘we’ almost talking for him and his brother at the same time.

They’ve been inseparable since they were young, always mucking around on their family farm just outside Canberra.

Along with older brother Mitchell, the Lonergan family is tight.

Ryan and Noss’s bond is like no other though. Despite being 18 months apart in age, the boys have always played in the same rugby union team.

Now 23 and 21, the Lonergan brothers are living out their childhood dreams in stadiums around Australia. Not that long ago they were scoring tries and kicking goals on the miniature footy field they made at the farm.

Lonergan Farm


SB: The penalty goal’s probably the highlight so far, but I want you to go all the way back and tell me a bit about growing up?

RL: Me and my two brothers were very close. We’ve all grown up on a farm together out near Williamsdale. We actually grew up on one that is now our neighbour’s place. We moved to our home now when I was about 7 years old. We’ve got 640 acres there. We went to Trinity Christian School in Erindale and were supposed to go to St Eddies actually because it’s a bit of a family thing to go there. But mum really liked the school and we were playing for Vikings at the time and yeah just kind of took off from there. Me and Noss really enjoyed our footy, where our older brother was more of a social footy player.

SB: What about Rugby, when did you start playing?

RL: I think I was probably 8 or 9. Had a core group with the [Tuggeranong] Vikings all the way up until under 18’s. Really enjoyed my junior footy and really helped me [get] to where I am today.

SB: Any Stand out junior memories, grand finals?

RL: I think we [won] 5 grand finals in a row when we were really young and then just having a great group of mates that just sort of continued on in the age groups. That’s sort of a stand out for me. Obviously playing the ACT rep stuff, we won a grand final in that which was good.

SB: So when did the representative stuff start?

RL: I think I was under 13’s, maybe 14’s. I tried out the years before that but didn’t make it. I think it might have been under 13’s was my first one. And then continued up until under 20’s.

SB: You’ve got a pretty special relationship with your brother Lachlan. Has he always played with you even though he’s a year and a half younger?

RL: Yeah well at the start because my older brother was playing as well it just wasn’t sustainable for my parents to drop us all around at different venues, we just couldn’t do it. The option was to just bring Noss up to play in my age group and that was purely the reason. I think that’s why he came up and we’ve been playing together ever since.

SB: Where does the nickname Noss come from?

RL: Well it’s not because he’s fast, I’ll tell you that right now. When we were young, like really young, my parents used to call him Lachy Larnos and I couldn’t say that so I just called him Noss and it just stuck like that. Everyone just calls him Noss, even the commentators have been calling him Noss!


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SB: You’ve risen through the junior ranks, talk to me about your junior Wallabies tours?

RL: Yeah first time I played the junior Wallabies stuff was under 18’s, I played that with Noss as well. We went to Samoa for a week and went to New Zealand for 2 weeks. It was a good tour that, it was good fun, played some good footy and unfortunately didn’t beat New Zealand but we were close.

And then the [under] 20’s got to head over to France and that was probably the best tour I’ve been on, got to stay in France for a month and then me and some of the boys kicked on down in Spain for a couple days after so that was good fun.

SB: When you sign your first professional contract with the Brumbies, is that life changing or is it just a matter getting in there and getting to work?

RL: I can’t really remember it to be honest, it was obviously pretty big at the time because I was still at school. I didn’t really expect it because I did my first pre-season at the end of year 11 and then I didn’t really know what was going to happen I thought I was in there training as a bit of a guinea pig and then they offered me a contract. It’s just a dream come true really, especially straight out of school. I don’t really know what it’s like to work because I’ve just been doing it my whole life. Like you said it’s life changing to be able to do what I love for a job.

SB: So you’re in amongst the Brumbies, what’s it like mixing with some big names and being coached by Stephen Larkham?

RL: Yeah I was nervous at the time, there’s big names and Steve Larkham is one of my heroes growing up. But you learn pretty quick that they’re just normal people, they’re great footy players but they’re great blokes. Brumbies is really good, having a good culture with a family environment. It’s daunting at the start but then you realise they’re just normal people and it’s just like having a conversation like we are now. It’s really comforting knowing that they can sort of fit everyone in.

SB: 2017 was your first year, talk me through your Brumbies debut?

RL: Yeah so, Bernie (Stephen Larkham) decided to give me a crack. I think it was the last game of the regular season a few boys were getting rested and then I got to head over to Hamilton (New Zealand). Thomas Cubelli started and then I came off the bench against the Chiefs, we unfortunately didn’t win that game but it’s an experience I’ll never forget. Especially to be able to do it away and get a feel for what it’s like touring with the squad. It was really special having my family over there. Noss actually got to debut at the same stadium [3 years later] and the family was over there again so it was like déjà vu.


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SB: Seasons 2018 and 2019, you were starved of opportunities a bit?

RL: I don’t think I played in 2018. Not sure how many I played in 2019, I think I played a couple here and there. Obviously, I was away with the [Wallabie’s under] 20’s that year so that impacted things. But probably didn’t get as much opportunity as I wanted to. I think that was partly my fault. I think I was just happy with learning, I was kind of just taking a back seat and probably wasn’t putting my foot forward to get a game or whatever but yeah 2020 came around and I sort of decided that it’s time for me to start playing more games and really started to push my case. Ever since then I’ve been getting more and more [game] time.

SB: You touched on 2020, your brother debuts and you were playing in that game as well?

RL: Yeah I was, I was on the bench. We got a good win that game, it was probably one of the best wins I’ve been apart of playing over in New Zealand. It’s the first win I’ve actually had in New Zealand. So yeah it was a night to remember that one, Noss debuts and I got my only win in New Zealand.


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It would be one of the last games before Covid-19 dismantled international travel and with it the Super Rugby season. Like other sports, Super Rugby resumed but was split between an Australian and New Zealand competition. The Lonergan brothers and the Brumbies would go onto win the Australian part of the competition in 2020.

2021 has been a coming of age type season for the boys. Ryan and Noss have continued to get more and more game time and are starting to make a real impact at the top level.


SB: Let’s go back to the game against the Rebels last month, it’s 24-24 and the siren has already gone. When the ref blows the penalty you’re standing right next to him. What are you thinking at that very moment?

RL: Straight away I’m thinking that’s a big kick. And then genuinely had a think about it. They say you should always back yourself and stuff.

SB: Have you practiced kicking from that sort of distance?

RL: Not really because I almost change my technique a little bit because I have to kick it a little bit harder. So I don’t really like practicing from that far out. That’s why I had to think about it a bit and then just in the context of the game we didn’t really have anything to lose by me taking the shot I mean I backed myself to hit it but it was quite high risk. So yeah I thought about it, decided to take it and it came off.

SB: I don’t know if this is true, did you boys have some goalposts on the farm growing up?

RL: We used to, I actually built some shitty little goal posts, they weren’t very tall. And we had a bit of a footy field set up out the back. Me and Nos used to play a lot. I now kick at a tree because it’s a bit more realistic than the tiny little goalposts but I used to kick out there quite a lot and had a lot of fun kicking towards those goalposts.

SB: I know Noss was on the field, he had a pretty big game that night. What was it like when he runs over to you and starts celebrating, did he have anything to say?

RL: I think he actually went up to Noah [Lolesio] when we got the penalty and said who would be a goal kicker! And he said after “thank god you got that because I don’t think I had golden point in me.” He’d already played 70 minutes and couldn’t do an extra 10 or whatever it would have been but nah he was happy.


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