I’m fairly relaxed this week as the Hawks have a bye and all I have to do is figure out what to pack in my bag for the Hawks v Swans blockbuster next week. So I’ve had the opportunity to get out and about and witness a fairly spectacular development in Australian sports.
The University of Canberra (UC) Sporting Commons was officially opened this week. It is home to the Brumbies – Australia’s most successful rugby union side. The Canberra Capitals, Australia’s most successful basketball team, also call the UC Sporting Commons home. The Caps have won the WNBL six times.
The Brumbies have played in six finals since the inception of super rugby, winning twice. They face New Zealand’s Chiefs in the first semi final this weekend at the Canberra Stadium.
While many rugby fans are disparaging of the success of the Brumbies, often understating that success, they might learn a thing or two from how this fabulous team goes about its business. With the introduction of the UC Sporting Commons, the edge that the Brumbies have will be further enhanced.
For the record, the other Australian teams have had the following finals success:
- NSW Waratahs: two finals appearances with no wins. The ‘Tahs are the favourite for 2014.
- Queensland Reds: one final appearance with one win. The Reds finished 2014 well down the ladder and are therefore out of contention.
- Western Force: nil appearances.
- Melbourne Rebels: nil appearances.
The new sporting facility in Canberra has a climate chamber, a recovery area with hot and cold plunge pools and sauna as well as an international standard bocce court. I’m sure the bocce court will be handy when David Pocock finishes his career as a star forward for the Brumbies. The climate chamber was marvellous for guests at the official opening: the weather reached a chilling 9 degrees outside, while the chamber allowed the guests to defrost their toes at a toasty 33 degrees.
Importantly, though, the new facility brings the Brumbies support team under one roof within a fabulous academic environment. The careers advice and development team is a busy one, ensuring that the players keep an eye on their future – post glory days of playing for the Brumbies.
The Brumbies and Canberra Capitals can draw on the expertise of a number of UC faculties. The Faculty of Health has students in sport and exercise science, physiotherapy, and psychology. These students contribute significantly to assessing the performance and potential of elite athletes. The academics who support these courses are also incredibly important in providing advice and guidance to elite athletes. Concomitantly, the athletes provide terrific support to the students and academics in developing their own skills and expertise.
The Vice Chancellor of UC, Professor Stephen Parker, has led the development of the sporting commons with aplomb, giving the university a niche in a fairly competitive academic environment. The ACT Government, UC and the Brumbies funded the $16m. development, which UC says is a unique space for collaboration between academia and community and elite sports.
As guests toured the facility, which cleverly overlooks playing fields, they had a good look at the Brumbies preparing for the big appearance in the semi finals. They looked sharp, even in the freezing conditions. I am ever the optimist, but I suspect the anticipated freezing conditions for Saturday night will also suit the Chiefs.
On this weekend, with the Hawks bye, the Brumbies have my absolute attention and support. They met the Chiefs in the 2013 final, going down 22-27. I hope Australia’s best can reverse this outcome in 2014. Unfortunately, Clyde Rathbone is out with a hammie. He’s my favourite.
But don’t tell anyone why the Brumbies and the Caps have the edge over any other teams. As the teams settle into their new digs, I would be worried if I was the opposition!
Screen outside the climate chamber
Testing oxygen and blood activity in the brain
Brumbies training on a freezing cold Canberra day