Undefeated so far in the U18 Championships, the ACT Brumbies believe that they can cause quite the upset and deliver strong results against much bigger state opposition.
The Brumbies U18 Academy are taking on New South Wales Gen Blue in Sydney on September 15 which is quickly followed up by a trip up to Brisbane to take on the Queensland Reds a week later on September 22.
The short turn around isn’t a worry for Head Coach Hugh Alexander, as he believes that the match fitness that the boys have developed over the course of the season will work in their favour.
“We have had the local club and school semi-finals recently and then this weekend we have the Grand Finals and there a quite a few guys playing in that,” Alexander said.
“So, with the short turn around, i think it will actually benefit us because we already have that match fitness. Whereas up in Sydney, their season has finished, and the Shute Shield finished a couple of weeks ago. I think it will actually benefit us.
Junior rugby in the ACT has changed for quite the better recently and Alexander believes that it is mostly thanks to the National Schoolboy Championships title won in 2016 was the catalyst.
“Bigger states used to think that the ACT was an easy team to beat but that is not the case anymore,” he commented. “A lot of the clubs and schools have programs that the boys are in and then we have the Brumbies Academy for those guys who want to take it to that next level.”
The team only recently came back after a couple of months between matches. Despite not having a lot of time to work on combinations and have everything perfect, most of the boys play with/or against each other week in week out providing confidence within the squad.
“It hasn’t been easy but there has been great chat from the leaders of the team when we are together,” Alexander revealed. “The boys are looking forward to the challenge that lays ahead and we believe that we have a strong chance to take it to New South Wales and Queensland.
“It would be silly not to believe that we can take out this year’s title. There needs to be that belief from the blokes next to you when you run out on to that pitch. The National U18 Championship provides that stepping stone for those players who are about to leave school but may get lost in the Colts and Grade competitions.
“It lets young players develop their game further if they want to possibly make a career out of playing professional rugby by perhaps being scouted by a franchise before other leagues either poach them or they decide not to play the game any longer.
“For so long the juniors didn’t have a competition like this so they can develop their game. It provides that opportunity for the boys to see those stepping stones if they want to take it to that next level.”
Despite not having the biggest talent pool to choose from, recent results prove that the ACT has the best pound-for-pound players in junior program which in turn leads into the senior grade competitions.
Sunday 15 September: 2.00pm NSW Gen Blue v Brumbies in Sydney
Sunday 22 September: 12.30pm Reds v Brumbies in Brisbane
Words: Rob Davison