Fairweather fans and TV’s Role in Rugby support

Posted: July 18, 2012 in England, Rugby, Rugby Union, Womens Rugby, youth rugby

Bare with me, this is an off the cuff blog, so it may ramble, but what it WILL do is RANT!

With the Olympics coming up, i felt the need to rant on a subject that riles me for roughly 8-12 weekends a year…. fairweather, know it all fans who only watch rugby when its on the BBC (6 nations) or ITV (Rugby World Cup).
How do these tie in? The Olympics and fairweather fans that is….


Anytime a sport is overkilled on TV, it instantly draws the crowds of know it all fans, who are experts during the TV run, and usually a month afterwards.

For example….
Go to any tennis court at the moment….. full of teens to mid 20’s, mainly males, new raquets, new balls, and absolutely no skill in the world. Whats just been on TV? Wimbledon. Now i know a few people who play tennis every summer and take it seriously, this isn’t aimed at them. Its not even a dig at people trying out a new sport, its just the example i use to how stop/start exposure to sports damages participation levels.

Yes, Aviva Premiership and Heineken rugby is on Sky and ESPN. I have neither. I watch the ITV4 highlights. Usually its easier to find Bin Ladens bunker than to find the highlights show in the listings, and its on a minor channel that many people don’t have! Plus when you cut out Craig Doyles waffling and the ad breaks, its about 35 minutes worth of highlights.
Match of the day is the football equivalent. Its on between 10-1030 every Saturday, MOTD2 is on at 10 every Sunday, plus morning repeats of MOTD on a Sunday morning, football focus at lunchtime on a Saturday, final score at 430 every Saturday, it even has a kids spin off and there is total football saturation on Radio 5, TalkSPORT and local radio all weekend every weekend. Actually, with TalkSPORT, the name is misleading as it 99% talks about football all bloody week. Brian Moore guest hosted last week and i barely heard rugby get a mention, and since when were former international cricketers Darren Gough and Ronnie Irani doyens of football punditry???

Imagine the fanbase that could be built in any sport with that kind of market dominance, especially with the impressionable and lucrative early teens to late 20’s market.
Rugby has the fanbase, bigger Premiership sides aren’t far off of lower end Premiership football attendance figures. Most big games are sold out these days and even lower league teams are getting decent crowds these days. come on ITV, give Rugby a decent shot. Put the highlights on ITV2 at a peak time, instead of the only way is f*****g Essex, then repeat it on ITV at a reasonable hour (instead of the usual 1am slot!)

That rant is actually off topic of the rant i was planning.

My rant was going to be about the people who watch half a dozen or so rugby matches a year ( normally the 6nations and an Autumn international or 2) and then make out they are some kind of expert by repeating word for word what Jeremy Guscott or Brian Moore says about a player and tries to pass it off as a fact.
EVERYONE knows someone like this. I unfortunately know loads.

There are many local clubs that would love to have these peoples money in the coffers at every home game, I mean granted, I’m from Coventry and I’m a Gloucester fan, so it may sound hypocritical, (family circumstances dictated that one….) but people should support the local sides. Coventry nearly went bust. I was gutted by this, i’ve been to the old Coundon Rd and the new Butts Park to watch them on many occasions over the years, and i used to play for them as a youth.
Not even just the big local sides, Barker Butts, Coventrians, Broadstreet, Nuneaton…. there are many clubs that would love the support, so instead of buying the England shirt (usually when sports direct have it cheap)and telling the world that ‘Chris Ashton is the best support runner in rugby’ (or whatever Guscott said to Inverdale on the last broadcast!) get off your arses and support rugby, from grassroots up!

  1. Vince says:

    Better still play or help organise, rugby should focus on participation. Presently the professional era is driving the game along the lines of football, superstar mercenaries move around looking for personal money not to be club members or club players. The whole ethic of the game is in danger and we will soon all simply watch Pacific Island thoroughbreds competiting in bish bash bosh instead of seeing national and club sides with completely different playing style and approach. Players should be encouraged to use their skills not given play books to robotically follow like American footballers, can you imagine David Campese, Serge Blanco or any of the other world greats obeying their coach in preference to trusting their ability and maybe taking a risk or two?

    • Yes, Vince…. that actually made my point far better than i made it!
      My wife and i are both involved with my stepsons team, Dudley Kingswinford, and bust our arses to get to all games, home and away, even when he’s not playing! My wife is the physio and i kind of lurk about and occasionally hold a tackle pad or set the flags out. no matter how little you do, its ALWAYS a big help to these teams!

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