It’s Tuesday! It’s the Top 5! Do I really need to tell you how this works? No? Good Enjoy.
The Good The Bad and The Ugly
Good – An Aussie team making the semi finals! At the end of last season that seemed like an impossible task, but here we are. And you never know, if all the cards fall the right way Sydney could be hosting another final.
Bad Another Good – It was good to see limited use of the TMO in the first week of the finals. Given the recent spate of referrals, interruptions and cards, it was good to see the TMO stay out of it!
Ugly – With the dust hardly having time to settle on the Mafi/Timani “incident” (and I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of that one) the Rebels are again in the spotlight. This time it is Pone Fa’amausili and extended contracted player Hunter Paisami who are giving the club headaches. They have both been suspended indefinitely after accusations that they were involved in an altercation with a man in the early hours of Sunday morning. The pair have been accused of punching the man in the head from behind, the man’s sister made the accusation over social media saying that her brother had lost consciousness and needed to be revived.
Play it and they will come … won’t they?
It’s finals time, and that means all those supporters that like to come out of the woodwork once their team is winning again were out in force, right? Or maybe not. Talk on social media during at least two of the four finals was more about how poor the crowds were than about the game.
Now some crowd numbers can be pretty hard to track down. Internet searches, reaching out to those in the know and the power of social media can only help so much. So I don’t have exact number for the Hurricanes v Chiefs game. But the crowd did look larger than the regular season crowds the Canes were getting. It still looked small in the Cake Tin though, well under capacity.
Next was the Crusaders v Sharks match. With the Saders looking like favourites to take out the title this year, you’d have thought their fans would be out in droves. But one estimate I got was a crowd of around 7,000. The Crusaders usually get pretty good crowds, and AMI Stadium only holds around 18,000, but the stand at one end of the field looked completely empty.
On to Sydney, and we have a crowd figure of 12,067. In a stadium with a capacity of 45,500. I’m hearing all sorts of reasons being thrown up for why the crowd was so small, apparently there were other events on and it was cold (although being from Canberra, having been to games when it has been 0 degrees and waking up to -7.9 degrees on Monday you can take that excuse and shove it – and I mean that in the nicest way possible). Crowd numbers weren’t released for 5 of the Waratahs home games so it’s hard to know how this compares, especially as I have a suspicion that it was the smaller crowd numbers that weren’t released, but for a home final for the first time since 2015, I would have expected a larger crowd.
Finishing up in Johannesburg and 21,065 fans showed up to watch the Lions take on the Jaguares. That is better than their 15,625 average over the season. There were still comments on Twitter that the crowd was tiny, and it may have looked it in a stadium that holds over 63,000. A disadvantage of having a big stadium, even with decent crowds it looks empty.
Is this yet another sign that no-one really cares about Super Rugby anymore? Or are there other reasons for smaller crowds, such as the cost? Are people going to games based on who the opposition is? We know certain teams are just not a draw card, while other teams hold more interest. Which then begs the question, are we going to games to support our team or watch the opposition?
Crowds have been steadily falling in Australia at Super Rugby games for a few years now. This article has some interesting graphs showing the rise and fall of Super Rugby crowds.
Rugby World Cup Sevens
Over the weekend the World Cup Sevens were held in San Francisco. At a baseball stadium. Yep, AT&T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants, was transformed into a Rugby Wonderland for the weekend, and the crowds definitely came in droves. There were packed stands, and they were treated to some great rugby.
New Zealand did the double, taking out both the men’s and women’s titles.
The women completely shattered hopes that the French could follow in the footsteps of their soccer team and take out another World Cup, taking out the final 29-0. The Kiwi’s put on a superb display of attacking rugby, leaving the French with no way of halting the points drain. The French team had earlier knocked the Aussie girls out of the competition, with a last ditch 19-12 win.
Our Aussie women took out the bronze medal, defeating the USA 24-14 in their playoff.
Just like the women, it was the French who threw a spanner in the works for the Aussie men, defeating us in the pool stages 22-17 and ending our chances of winning the title. The men made it through to the Challenge Final, but lost 24-14 to Ireland.
In the Championship Final, it was the Kiwis who scored five tries to two to defeat England, 33-12. They were lucky to make it past the quarter finals though, after receiving three yellow cards in the first half of the match against France. But they came back from 0-7 down to win 12-7 in a mighty effort.
Still at the Sevens
What is it with rugby players at the moment? Mafi, Timani, allegedly Pone Fa’amausili and Hunter Paisami … and now this. A police investigation has been launched after an incident at the World Cup Sevens where Welsh player Tom Williams, was injured and unable to take further part on the tournament.
The cause of his injuries? He was allegedly assaulted by Samoan player Gordon Langkilde in the tunnel following the match between the two nations, which Wales won 24-19 in extra time.
Williams’ teammate Luke Treharne spoke about the incident, saying “There was an incident. I am not sure how much I can say but a couple of our boys were pretty seriously injured at the end of it, and the police are involved. It was shock. When everything comes out you will see all the details of it – it is pretty shocking stuff. The boys used it as a bit of motivation today. We were all there, all the boys were there so we all knew about it straight away. There was absolutely nothing at all, nothing really sparked it – it was unprovoked. It was nasty stuff to see. Even after that [extra-time win] the boys shook hands, we thought that was the end of it but there was nothing, no niggle in the game.”
Californian police are investigation the incident.
So by my count that’s 3 (alleged) serious cases of violence in around a week. Aren’t these the kind of things we usually read about relating to a different code? I really hope that Rugby isn’t going the way of League ….