The famous Rugby team from Australia, The Brumbies, is setting up an academy at ASU—a development that should make the Valley a focal point for the sport in the United States. It’s been compared to the New York Yankees setting up a minor-league baseball team in the Phoenix area.
The key person in attracting the Brumbies has been ASU rugby coach Gary Lane. We talked to him about how this all came about.
The Entertainer!: Who are the Brumbies?
Lane: The Brumbies are a Super 16 Rugby Team. The Super 16 is a competition that spans three nations: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I’d really equate it to the NFL of rugby in the Southern Hemisphere. They are an organization that brings in the best players in their region. They play in a 16-team championship over about 20 weeks. There are four teams from South Africa, four from Australia and four from New Zealand.
Are the Brumbies players going to be here or is it a matter of the academy being run by the Brumbies?
It’s run by the Brumbies’ coaching staff. They were here recently. To run a combine of athletes to see what talent was interested in joining the academy. Brumbies’ players are always welcome. Whether they want to train here remains to be seen. Certainly, there is an open invitation for our players to train down there at their facilities. Here, it’s an 11-month academy. The players get one month off and then they’ll be back at it.
So anyone from the United States who wants to learn to be a better rugby player can come here?
That’s correct. They have to be qualified athletes. We don’t want to waste anybody’s time. The athlete who is interested will have to go through some testing. And there is a monthly fee for the academy. We are putting a substantial amount of resources in. And we want them to be better players.
What does this do for rugby at ASU?
It exposes us on a completely different level. It puts us on an international level. There will be players who come from high school and will want to join the academy. We’re really pushing the high school football players who aren’t going to D-! schools who are still good players.
We also want to promote the school. It’s not just about American players. It’s worldwide. Rugby is a global sport. We see this as a pathway to introduce good athletes to that sport. ASU will benefit by having out-of-state students and international students joining our rugby program, which is a top-class program in itself.
To learn more about The Brumbies, visit brumbies.com.au