Where Has the Atmosphere Gone in Rugby?
We are, at the time of writing, three matches into Round Four of the super 14 2009 competition. There has been some splendid rugby, some very tough rugby and some very poor rugby played by all teams so far much like any other competition in world rugby or for that matter world sport.
The simple facts are that not every game can be 34-33 with a try in the last seconds defining the winner and importantly the rugby fan knows this. Hell any sports fan knows this.
So why then are the crowds in this years super 14 so poor?
Is it the global financial crisis? Possibly. Is it a below par marketing campaign leading into the tournament? Possibly. Or is it the new rules? More likely.
All the stats point to more points, ball in play longer etc...etc...etc...There is also a hell of a lot more kicking.
The sheer volume of the crowds excitement at The Sydney Football Stadium in the Reds vs Waratahs match when Lachie Turner broke the trend of returning a kick with a kick by choosing a good angle and pinning his ears back was palpable.
Kicking has always been a vital part of the game of Rugby and long may it remain so, but not at the expense of moments like Turner's.
The law changes in Rugby are pushing the game towards a more friendly TV viewing product of that there is no doubt, but, having a full stadium is also part of the viewing experience.
Atmosphere translates into the lounge room, it translates into the commentators voices as they too feel the passion of the crowd and at the moment the super 14 is devoid of atmosphere.
TV and its money is important, but not so important that the fabric our game should be altered to the detriment of the excitement of the fan attending the game.
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