The Brumbies remain key to the Wallabies' World Cup chances
Aussie rugby fans have plenty of reason for optimism heading into the Rugby World Cup in Japan. As we head into the 2019 Super Rugby semi-finals this weekend, the Brumbies have proven that you don’t need kryptonite to beat the Kiwis this season.
Aussie Rugby sides have struggled to perform against their cousins from across the Tasman; Australian Super Rugby sides failed to notch a win in 2017 and then claimed only four wins against Kiwi opposition in 2018.
The tide has turned in 2019, thanks to the stellar form of Australia’s most successful Super Rugby franchise.
The Brumbies have won their last seven games on the bounce, showing a level of dominance not seen since they lifted the Super Rugby title in 2004.
Funnily enough, the Wallabies enjoyed one of their best periods of play on the back of four Super Rugby Finals appearances by the Brumbies from 2000-2004, lifting the title twice in 2001 and 2004.
The men in gold lifted the World Cup in 1999 and then followed that up with another finals appearance in Sydney four years later, only for a Johnny Wilkinson field goal to deny them a fairy tale ending. In between two Rugby World Cup Finals, the Wallabies enjoyed their best period of play against New Zealand, holding onto the Bledisloe Cup from 1999 to 2003 and claiming back to back Tri-Nations titles in 2000 and 2001.
The ACT side have fired up in attack this season, scoring 42 first-half tries, 15 more than any other team in the competition.
Fullback Tom Banks has scored seven tries in his last eight matches and hooker Folau Fainga'a, scoring 11 tries to sit in equal second place on the try-scoring ladder. Interestingly, the Brumbies had former Sydney Roosters player Andrew Walker (8) in 2001 and Mark Gerrard (10) and Stirling Mortlock (10) lead the try-scoring charts in their title winning years.
The Brumbies’ domestic success hasn’t translated through to the national level, given that Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has had a preference of sticking with the Waratahs players who delivered him a title in 2014. The less said about the 2019 coach killing Waratahs the better.
The addition of former dual international Michael O’Connor and Rugby Australia director of coaching Scott Johnson means that Cheika may not have things all his own way at the selection table, with a new fullback a priority for the Wallabies.
While the glory days of John Eales dominating the All Blacks are unlikely to be seen again, taking a leaf out of the Brumbies' 2019 playbook could transform the Wallabies into a serious World Cup threat in Japan.