The Seasons Collide - Bushfire and Rugby

Posted by John Gates on

I'm sitting in my high rise apartment in Brisbane on a nice warm day - not too hot - air quality OK, looking over the Brisbane River at Hamilton Reach - not too much to worry about, except that tomorrow is my first day back at work, for the year, then I read the article about the Brumbies relocating their training base to Newcastle because of the parlous air quality in the nation's capital

["Brumbies relocate training base to Newcastle due to hazardous bushfire smoke in Canberra" - Iain Payten - https://www.rugby.com.au/news/2020/01/05/brumbies-air]

"...The Brumbies have relocated their training base to Newcastle for an indefinite period due to the “hazardous” air quality in Canberra because of the ongoing bushfire disaster..."

Some have described it as "Armaggedon" and twice as bad as New Delhi, and that is saying something ..for those who have ever been there. Rated as 'hazardous' as the conditions in Canberra, have produced readings between 150 and 175 on Sunday.

But the club says it’s still too early to determine whether the same dangers could see the Brumbies have to shift a trial against the Rebels in Albury on January 23, or even their first Super Rugby game in Canberra on January 31 against the Reds. One idea is to swap home games with the Reds, as Suncorp Stadium is not currently booked for that day - makes sense to me.

Being former Canberrans, with family still down there, we are quite concerned for their health and safety and we have other friends down at the South Coast, whose homes are in danger - we feel for each and every one of them and, at the same time take our hats off to the volunteers, the fire fighters, the military and particularly my old mob, The Navy.

Stay safe, people - cancel or swap games if you have to - at the end of the day, it's sport and, as much as we need to provide entertainment, we also need to look after the welfare of players and fans - because of the twin fact that we are in this horrendous bushfire season and that the Super Rugby season starts so early this year, coaches and administrators are in unchartered waters, so it looks like we are going to learn a whole new lot of protocols around air quality and player safety.

Here's a thought - administrators could also look at double headers - say, playing a Brumbies game before or after a Rebels game, in Melbourne, and splitting the gate, or shifting some games to regional stadiums, in safer areas. Exceptional circumstances sometimes call for exceptional solutions.

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