Brumbies launch charity initiative to draw fans back to GIO Stadium

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Brumbies have challenged their fans to turn out in droves when they face the Sunwolves at GIO Stadium on Sunday week, with $15,000 to be donated to three charities if 15,000 people attend.

The unique move is a response to the paltry 5283 person turnout at ACT's last home start, a 27-24 loss to the Rebels.

It was the second worst crowd in the club's history and while CEO Michael Thomson said the club took some responsibility for dwindling crowd numbers, the initiative will provide the club a chance to give back.

"We're proud of where we come from and we aim to put back into this community wherever we can," Thomson said.

"We also know that crowd numbers have not been where we would have hoped them to have been, culminating in a small turnout for our game two weeks ago.

"There were a number of reasons why this occurred - including team performance - for which we take full responsibility.Just over 5000 people turned up at GIO Stadium to watch the Brumbies take on Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images"The first fall of snow on Friday and Saturday didn't help, (neither do) the issues around Super Rugby, it's structure and the issues of Canberra Stadium."

The Sunday afternoon game is forecast to fall on a sunny, 14C day, far from the 3C temperature the mercury hit on the night ACT hosted Melbourne.

That should leave no excuses for rugby fans in the Canberra region to not turn up, with Lifeline Canberra, OzHarvest and Give Me Five For Kids to receive $5000 should 15,000 people push through the turnstiles.

"We thought it provided a great platform to raise awareness and some much needed funds for three of the charities that make a real difference in our region," Thomson said.

"We're looking to encourage 15,000 people to come to our Sunday afternoon game against the Sunwolves and we will donate $15,000 - $5000 each - to these three worthy charities.Better weather on Sunday week should draw more fans back to GIO Stadium. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"We're calling on all rugby fans, all sports fans and all people proud of Canberra and our region to get out to the game on June 3 and show their support for these three, great charities."

Injured Brumbies hooker Josh Mann-Rea said the target was achievable despite dwindling crowds having turned out to date in Canberra this season.

"I know what it's like in winter down here, as well, you're not just fighting a bad performance - you're fighting winter and the cold winds," Mann-Rea said.

"I know my girls get pretty cold watching dad play in the middle of winter but it does make a big difference, getting the support out there.

"It's not just about us, we are trying to support the whole area and try and support charities that are really big in this area.

"I've played in games here where we have cracked 20,000 so I think it is achievable, for sure."