FANS of Will Miller's ACT Brumbies will be wearing sunscreen instead of beanies when the club hosts the first three games of a re-jigged Super Rugby draw next year, with night-time kick-off times to be brought forward to be more fan friendly.
The Super Rugby fixture list was published on Tuesday, with the Brumbies hosting the Queensland Reds, Melbourne Rebels and Otago Highlanders in the first three weeks.
The Brumbies, who recently signed Berry product Miller to a two-year contract, will also have two afternoon matches at Canberra Stadium in 2020, although the club's request to have start times moved to 2pm were denied by broadcaster Fox Sports.
The early start and home games will ensure cold weather isn't a factor for fans who are deciding whether or not to attend games.
Super Rugby will start in January next year for the first time in the competition's history, with the Brumbies to play the Reds on January 31.
The marquee match of the year will be the clash against the NSW Waratahs on a Sunday at 4pm.
The key points of the Brumbies' draw are:
- The club investigating the option of shifting one game to Manuka Oval to celebrate the Brumbies' 25-year anniversary;
- Home games on January 31, February 7 and February 15 to start the year;
- Playing against the Waratahs and Argentina Jaguares on Sunday afternoons;
- Saturday and Friday night kick-off times have been moved from 7.45pm to 7.15pm;
- The regular-season finishing before the winter months hit Canberra, and;
- A last-round home game against the Japan Sunwolves on May 29.
The Brumbies have been working with the ACT government about the prospect of shifting their round 15 game to Manuka as part of a retro celebration.
Next year will be the 25th season of Super Rugby and the Brumbies played at Manuka Oval in 1996.
However, the costs of shifting the game loom as the biggest stumbling block for the change of venue for the game against the Cape Town Stormers on May 9.
The Brumbies will play the Reds, Rebels, Highlanders, Waratahs, Jaguares, Hurricanes and Sunwolves in Canberra next year.
They face a two-game trip to South Africa to play against the Durban Sharks and the Pretoria Bulls and will avoid the defending champion Canterbury Crusaders as part of the Super Rugby fixture quirk.
The Brumbies are hoping to re-engage with their fan base next year and will host a fan forum on Wednesday night to discuss potential ticket, membership and name changes.
The Brumbies will likely officially reintroduce the ACT to their name from 2021 after an overwhelming response from supporters and membership packages are expected to change.
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Fans have told the club they don't go to games because they are played too late in Canberra's colder months.
Shifting the 7.45pm kick-offs to 7.15pm will be a welcome change for supporters, while the Brumbies had hoped to convince Fox Sports to change their afternoon games from 4pm to 2pm.
Their pleas, however, fell on deaf ears at the broadcaster, who remain adamant 4pm will draw a bigger audience despite the impact it will have on crowds.
The Super Rugby regular season will finish in May after SANZAAR moved the competition forward to scrap the ugly four-week bye in June for the international window.
The international window has now shifted to July, but there will be more changes to Super Rugby next year when the Sunwolves are axed from the competition.
Until the Super Rugby season starts, Shoalhaven junior Miller will continue to play with the Canberra Vikings in the National Rugby Championship (NRC).
BRUMBIES 2020 DRAW
January 31: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.
February 7: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.
February 15: ACT Brumbies v Otago Highlanders at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.
February 22: Waikato Chiefs v ACT Brumbies at Hamilton, 5.05pm.
March 8: Japan Sunwolves v ACT Brumbies at Osaka, 3.15pm.
March 15: ACT Brumbies v NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium, 4.05pm.
March 21: Auckland Blues v ACT Brumbies at Eden Park, 5.35pm.
March 27: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies at Brisbane, 7.15pm.
April 4: ACT Brumbies v Wellington Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.
April 12: ACT Brumbies v Argentina Jaguares at Canberra Stadium, 4.05pm.
April 25: Durban Sharks v ACT Brumbies at Durban, 10.05pm.
May 3: Pretoria Bulls v ACT Brumbies at Pretoria, 1.45am.
May 9: ACT Brumbies v Cape Town Stormers at TBC, 7.15pm.
May 15: Melbourne Rebels v ACT Brumbies at Melbourne, 7.15pm.
May 23: NSW Waratahs v ACT Brumbies at Parramatta, 7.15pm.
May 29: ACT Brumbies v Japan Sunwolves at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.
June 6: Week one finals
June 13: Week two finals
June 20: Grand final