If media reports are to be believed, some 500,000 tickets for the 2015 Rugby World Cup matches will be dished out to RFU-affiliated clubs this month, with another 2.3 million tickets going on sale in September.
Whilst fully accepting that this may partly be a product of advanced age, I find that my willingness to attend sporting events in the flesh has decreased exponentially over the past fifteen years. In fact, now I think about it, my willingness to attend anything in the flesh has decreased exponentially over the past fifteen years!
There was a time when, as a rugby season ticket holder, the eight-month period between September and May each season was dominated by my match day plans. These included a pub lunch and a few drinks before the game, a visit to meet up with friends in a members bar once arriving at the ground, making purchases in the merchandising shop, bellowing our hearts out during the game and then retiring to the cavernous stand bar for more drinks, spotting or meeting the players having their post-match tea and cavorting around in front of the ‘live’ band that played at ear-splitting volume until midnight and beyond.
In short, life then for my husband and I revolved around supporting our team.
These days we merely drive as close as possible to the ground, have a single drink in the pub on the green, go straight to our seats and, immediately the game is over, trudge back to the car and drive home in time (if we want) to order a takeaway before either watching our tele-recording of the match or sitting, zombie-like, in front of ITV’s god-awful Britain’s Got Talent and falling asleep about 8.30pm.
As it happens, shortly we shall be going on a ‘rugby tour’ to Cardiff for the Heineken Cup Final on 24th May, but this is definitely a one-off.
About seven years or so ago, having bought tickets for the Heineken Cup Final at Murrayfield in the erroneous belief that our team would be playing in it, a group of us decided to attend anyway – and thereby discovered one of the great joys of said competition.
Most of those who go to a Heineken Cup Final have no connection with the teams taking part. They’re simply there for the party – and what a party it is!
Now in my sixties, I have reached the point where I no longer enjoy the hassles associated with large crowds at sporting events.
I don’t like crowds – or is it just other people? … end of message.
Why bother to waste a whole day, or even a whole weekend, going out into the wide, wonderful world and spending maybe £40 to £100 on top of the price of your ticket … when, as an alternative, courtesy of the satellite and/or cable subscription you’ve already paid for anyway, you can both get on with a myriad of other things during the day and then settle down in front of your high-definition television for a couple of hours, to not only see every aspect of the game in a detail that wouldn’t have been possible had you actually been present, but also all the build-up analysis, the interviews with the coaches and the slow-mo video playbacks of all the major incidents?
Plus, of course, watching at home, you can nip for a comfort break or to make a cup of tea at any time you wish without having to queue.
For me, however great the occasion – and this would apply even to a Rugby World Cup Final – Twickenham is a strangely soulless venue, hamstrung by the antics of the paying customers themselves.
The majority of them seem more interested in diversions such as food and drink, lavatory excursions and chatting inconsequentially about non-rugby-related matters.
What’s more, in pursuit of these interests, they seem pathologically programmed to wait until the match has started before immediately getting up and struggling past everyone in their row of seats … and/or then standing about on the stairs and walkways … thereby rendering what is happening upon the pitch – sometimes for minutes at a time – partially or wholly obscured from the tiny minority (which includes me) who have actually bought tickets in order to watch it.