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Descending standards

There’s a growing problem in rugby – and possibly others sports too – regarding crowd behaviour.

As someone who gave up going to Twickenham Stadium on principle in 2008 because of the soulless feel of the place and the poor match day experience, I have few regrets.

I’d actually go further than that – I’m glad to have bailed out.

These days, it seems to me, many spectators who now attend games at what rugby people love to refer to as ‘HQ’ are not true rugby fans.

Many of them are there on corporate packages and, having paid through the nose for their tickets, (justified or not) feel entitled to treat their outing as an experience in which actually sitting in the stand watching the game is no more than an optional extra. Others, perhaps refugees from other sports, have been attracted to the sport for reasons often alien to traditional rugby culture and exhibit extreme jingoistic tendencies and boorish attitudes – including systematic lack of respect to match officials and failing to remain silent when players are attempting kicks at goal.

Quite apart from the fact that many older fans prefer the comforts and enjoyments of watching sports events ‘live’ on television to the complications and stresses of attending elite matches and tournaments in the flesh anyway, these ‘newer’ spectators are spoiling the entire rugby match experience itself.

It’s a problem that accompanies any sport with a growing worldwide audience. Greater popularity brings greater commercial rewards but also the inevitable ‘downside’ aspect of naked humanity en masse which, too often, involve attitudes far removed from the traditions that made rugby football the great game it is. Or was.

The above is a low way of getting around to stating that I agree with a great deal of the points and comments made by Robert Kitson in his recent article available on the website of The Guardian – see here – THE GUARDIAN

About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts