I was looking at some rugby stuff on the internet which made a change from the usual porn surfing, when I came across this headline –
Aviva Premiership should consider crowd segregation
My initial reaction was ‘no way’ – one of the great joys of watching ‘live’ rugby is the opportunity to laugh and take the piss out of the opposition supporters – which goes both ways of course.
I have had great fun at internationals in places like France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales (well mostly), Australia and New Zealand standing or sitting next to blokes (and Doris’) who were cheering for the other team.
However if you read the article, I think Austin does have a point – blocks of away supporters can increase the atmosphere. Again I have experience of that on the two Lions tours we went on.
At the first test in 2001 Martin Johnson went back into the changing room after the coin toss and told the team “boys, we’re playing at home”.
Lions fans in replica red shirts flooded the Gabba at Brisbane last Saturday to turn the first Test into a home match for the Lions, who took the Wallabies apart with four glorious tries.
“It was like a home match. They were fantastic,” said Lions captain Martin Johnson.
Of course it helped that more than 20,000 supporters had turned up.
On balance I am against segregation (in any form) and think that the way it works in the Premiership is fine. On Lions tours the blocks of tickets for the tour groups make it possible to seat supporters together – which is why the atmosphere is always outstanding – it will be no different this summer in New Zealand.