2019 Super Rugby Report Card: How did the Brumbies shape up?

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

RUGBY.com.au will be running the rule over each of the four Australian teams' 2019 Super Rugby seasons.

Last in the mix, the Brumbies.

The Brumbies had a slow start to the year but finished on top of the Australian conference, in a semi-final and with a club record seven-match winning streak. While their semi-final performance was one they might rather forget, they had plenty of high points along the way to a relatively successful year.

Position

Semi-finalists - 10 wins, 6 losses, 48 points

High point

38-13 win vs Sharks, Canberra


The Brumbies' quarter-final win over the Sharks was close to their most complete performance of the season. An early-season win over the Chiefs was impressive but this playoff win was just as emphatic. A Pete Samu first-half double set the tone for a big win and kept the Brumbies' season alive for one more week.

Low point

39-7 loss vs Jaguares, Buenos Aires

The Brumbies left their worst performance of 2019 for the last game they would play this season. In front of a hostile Argentinian crowd, the Brumbies were comprehensively beaten in their worst finals defeat in history. It was a disappointing note for them to finish on.

Turning point

36-14 loss vs Reds, Brisbane


A shellacking at the hands of the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in round six looked like it could be rock bottom for the Brumbies, who had just two wins to that point in the season. Ultimately, though, it proved to be the trigger the Brumbies needed to spark their second-half winning run, all the way to the final four.

What they did well

Lineout

An impressive lineout laid the foundations for the Brumbies all year long. While its connection to the rolling maul has been well-documented, their lineout set up multi-phase attack as well. 

Problem area

Composure

The Brumbies' semi-final performance illustrated this better than most. While the ACT side showed they had versatility in them this season, under pressure they looked shaky. Their final four clash was the biggest spotlight the Brumbies had faced this season and they looked vulnerable on the biggest stage. 

Try of the season

Tevita Kuridrani vs Crusaders, Christchurch


They didn't get the win in Christchurch but the Brumbies showed a bit of X-Factor with Toni Pulu and Tevita Kuridrani teaming up for a score against the Crusaders.

Player demanding a ticket to Japan

Rory Arnold

You could probably argue for the entire Brumbies forward pack, and much of the backline too, in this one but Arnold's performances will probably be more transformative than most. Arnold has been on the fringes of the Wallabies squad since his 2016 debut but his consistency this season will make it near impossible not to pick him as a starting Test lock. 

Rookie of the year

Jahrome Brown

Jahrome Brown was a standout for the Brumbies in 2019. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyJahrome Brown first came into the Brumbies fold after Ben Hyne injured his knee and a short-term injury replacement quickly turned into a two-year contract. The Waikato product stepped up to Super Rugby level and showed huge potential. 

Best recruit

James Slipper

The Brumbies offered James Slipper a lifeline after the Reds exiled the 84-Test Wallaby in the wake of a drug-related suspension. The 29-year-old has more than repaid their faith, with one of his best seasons in recent memory. Slipper had battled injuries in recent years, before his suspension, but this season he played every match and pushed fellow Wallaby Scott Sio all the way. With a host of players moving on in 2020, 

What Netflix program they actually turned out to be: 

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The Brumbies injected some much-needed optimism into Australian rugby in this season's Super Rugby competition and though they were hit with some setbacks and didn't quite get to conquer their goal, they proved a side that everyone could get behind.

Burning Questions answered

RUGBY.com.au laid out some burning questions for each team at the start of the year. How do the answers look now?

Can the Brumbies pick up where they left off last season?

They didn't exactly pick up where they left off but they followed a similar pattern. A slow start punctuated by inconsistency, strong performances in South Africa, and a strong finish to the year. The 2019 version of the Brumbies timed things better than the 2018, qualifying for the playoffs, and stringing together stronger outings.

Will Rob Valetini end his run of bad luck?

The Brumbies are in control at the break. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyValetini had some setbacks but he ended his 2019 season as strongly as he has any season before it. The 20-year-old's call up to the Rugby Championship squad capped off that strong season and gives him a chance to continue his form into a potential Test debut.

Has Chance Peni rectified his tackling technique?

Peni had limited opportunities in Super Rugby this season, playing mainly club rugby, and is leaving the Brumbies after the Super Rugby season. The speedster didn't find himself in hot water with the judiciary again but that he wasn't able

Will an overseas stint re-energise Henry Speight?

Speight was back to some of his best rugby in 2019, looking super dangerous in attack and defence for the Brumbies. The Test winger scored five tries this season and was one of the most consistent players for the ACT outfit.

Will Pocock be protected?

This ended up begin a moot point, with Pocock only playing three matches in 2019. The Brumbies have been vocal about the need to police neck rolls at the breakdown but Pocock didn't have a chance to be protected, battling with a calf issue for much of the season.

Final grade: A-

The Brumbies fell short of their ultimate goal but a semi-final finish and a host of impressive individual seasons was a strong result for the Canberrans.