I’m well-known as a rugby fan and over the past few months I have been asked innumerable times by a wide variety of folk how many Rugby World Cup matches I am going to, who is going to win the William Webb Ellis trophy … and so on.
The answer is that I have deliberately bought no tickets and am attending just the Romania versus Canada clash taking place at Leicester City’s football ground on 6th October – and that only because a brother-in-law I respect a good deal has invited me to go with him in a party of four. I have always hated the match day experience at Twickenham Stadium and for a decade and more I have avoided going there. Nothing – well bar the unique year that the Harlequins won the Premiership title – could possibly induce me to go back.
One advantage of my stance is that I have not felt the anger and frustration of those fans I know who are outraged by the ticket prices.
I also know one debenture holder at Twickenham, justifiably proud of his record in having attended every home England match since the 1967 Five Nations championship, who has declined to buy a single ticket for the Rugby World Cup, partly in pique at the fact that the World Rugby organisation ‘takes over’ the RFU’s HQ for the duration of a RWC … and therefore the RFU (and its stakeholders including debenture seat holders) have no say in who sits where if at all and has written to the RFU chairman to explain his stand of principle.
He’s going to be watching his chosen RWC matches on television, just like everyone else including your author.
I have a further confession to make.
As a Quins fanatic, I don’t actually care what the remainder of the Aviva Premiership teams are doing. I do buy The Rugby Paper every Sunday and, if there’s literally nothing on TV worth watching, I might tune in to a Premiership match or two from time to time … but I’m not that interested in watching rugby per se, or seeking to look out for rugby talent coming through, irrespective of where it is based.
That said, as you might expect, I’m damned interested in what is happening at Quins including the progress of our academy players – just not in anyone else’s. Well, unless they get transferred to Quins, in which case they become ‘mine’.
As regards the RWC, my attitude is similar. As an Englishman I’m mightily interested in what is going on with the England team every day. But not much in the other nations taking part. Okay, I might perhaps be persuaded to watch the bigger challenges facing say the All Blacks, Australia and South Africa, but apart from those I’m not that bothered. You certainly won’t find me glued to the television night and day during the competition.
I’m a fan, not a generalised rugby supporter who would go a country mile just to watch any old game. I’ve got to have an ‘investment’ in the clash, otherwise rugby – and indeed sport generally – just doesn’t ‘do’ it for me.
Sorry about that, chaps. Good luck with the tournament, I wish it well, but frankly I’m not going to get that excited about it. Well, unless Stuart Lancaster wakes up, smells the coffee and puts Danny Care in his starting team … along with other Quins Mike Brown and captain Chris Robshaw.