Low crowd turnout for rugby season
IT is a strange situation for rugby union as the code enjoyed more quality games and yet spectators stayed away in droves.
The Brahmans program was particularly disappointing as the terraces remained almost empty despite the quality of football on display at Rugby Park.
For the 2009 season the Brahmans faced the best clubs in the Brisbane area and yet, despite recording some good results on home turf, were unable to drag fans along to Rugby Park to offer their support.
Admittedly the Brahmans program in 2009 was a long one with players committing to the sport for nearly the full 12 months, but watching a match on a Saturday evening should have encouraged more people to the park than it actually did.
In the end Jack Lloyd jnr, who took over the head coaching role prior to the opening match of the program when the Brahmans parted ways with Kurt Lehndorf, did well, but drawing towards the end of the program the Brahmans squad was severely tested for depth.
It will be no easier in 2010 with the players back in training before Christmas and starting their trial matches before the end of January.
Nobody would suggest the arrangement is ideal, but unfortunately, to fit in the representative program it must come at the beginning, end or on specified weeks during club fixtures.
Over the past few years Jono Bradbury has been one player to embrace the Brahmans concept and gone from strength to strength as a player.
While always a good lineout player, Bradbury has improved his overall game immeasurably to become an inspirational captain for the Brahmans and also a standout for the Queensland Country team.
On the local scene the club championship was a little disappointing with teams vastly changed from week to week and therefore the quality of football a big variable.
Colts were the exception.
Throughout the year the Frank Busby team was able to impress and deservedly finished its program as the champion side for the 2009 season.
On its day, Colts looked very good across the park with Mitchell Smith exceptional, not just with his kicking game, but also his ability to join the backline effectively at pace.
While traditionally Colts are always expected to be at least a match for any team in the competition in the forwards, the 2009 team was usually a very cohesive unit capable of playing an expansive game or grinding out a result if required.
Flyhalf Peter McLaughlin had a memorable season, while Daniel Withers never let his coach down and Charlie Fetoai provided some highlights when he ran the ball at an opposition defensive line.
Throughout the season there were changes as teams took a turn in having a good spell of form.
The most dominant, after Colts, was Brothers.
Always a hard team to beat, Brothers was widely tipped as the side to meet Colts in the final.
That prediction looked to be close to the money as Colts struggled to a 10-9 win in the major semi-final when the two teams met.
In the other semi, Frenchville, the team that had promised so much at the start of the campaign, disappeared without so much as a whimper when thrashed by University.
The result should not have been a huge surprise as Frenchville had shown all the signs of imminent implosion throughout the second half of the program with players doubling up to play both Reserve and A-grade.
Even so, the 31-3 scoreline was an indication of the difference between 15 players who were prepared to work to a plan and a group of talented individuals who all seemed to have their own agenda.
While a one-sided affair, the match provided a highlight of the season when rugby enthusiast extraordinaire Keith “Irish” Taylor intercepted a pass and made his way forward.
Those at the game would remember Taylor taking the ball on half-way and making 15-20 metres before releasing it as the cover-defence closed.
Taylor’s recollection had him out-sprinting everybody for distances varying from the length of the park to the more fanciful version of accepting the ball outside the Allenstown hotel before being brought down a metre from the line.
Anyway, it was University that progressed to meet Brothers and cause the surprise of the year by winning the encounter 11-8. This was a major shock for the Jack Lloyd-coached Brothers which always looked strong in the forwards, but struggled to make its backline cohesive regularly.
Brothers had the best player in the 2009 competition in Anthony Pearce and if the club is able to add a couple of quick ball-runners to its squad, it should be a big threat in 2010.
There were no shocks in the final with Colts a reasonably comfortable winner over the students.
Major disappointment of the competition was Gladstone as its Reserve grade folded before the end of the season.
If rugby could look at the season and give just one tick of approval, it would have to be given to the Reserve grade, where Blackwater and Capricorn Coast won their way through to the grand final and put on a solid display which Blackwater won with the Coast players wishing the match had lasted another 10 minutes.