TV trumps stadium thuggery

A death and a beating at Kings Park, the Cape Crusaders, a fight in the PE stands … it’s no wonder people seek the solace of the flat screen at home says Tank Lanning in his Virgin Active column.

So the Cheetahs come back from an extraordinarily successful, and record breaking, tour down under, having won three of their four games, to not only take on the Rebels in Bloemfontein, but actually go on to destroy them, all in front of a crowd smaller than the one that turned up for the annual grass growing extravaganza in Uitenhage!

Sure the Rabble (as they are better known here in SA) are no crowd pullers, having been man handled by the Sharks the week before and then had two players sent home for fighting on the team bus home from that game, and it was the Easter weekend so no doubt a lot of people would have taken the opportunity to “Get the hell out of Dodge”. But you would think that a city that boasts the most famous rugby school in the land would sport enough troops to at least outnumber the grey empty seats!

After five rounds of Super Rugby South Africa had hosted an average of 31 394 spectators per match, which is actually up 5% on 2012 when the average was 30 016. But this was before “Bloem-gate” and mostly because of the very excitable Kings fans who had Nelson Mandela Stadium at 76% capacity for the match against the Chiefs, which made it the largest home crowd that round across all three conferences.

In reality, as last week’s crowd in Bloem suggests, crowd attendances are either dropping or remaining static. Kings Park had only 23 894 spectators at their match against the Brumbies, which is 46% capacity.

This while Repucom’s latest data suggests that the average TV audience per game during home Super Rugby games up is up 11.7% on 2012 …

Throw in 2 beatings in successive weekends at the Kings Park post match braai, one of which resulted in the death of a young man, a huge fight caught on a phone camera in the stands in Port Elizabeth, the “Cape Crusader” saga at Newlands that saw the home team spat on and a woman beaten up in the stands, and the College Rovers coach being beaten up by Brakpan players and supporters in George, and one can see why people are seeking the solace of the flat screen at home.

Apart from some of the truly inept and irritating pre-match buildup, commentary and “Analysis” – most of which can be muted while you run to the fridge – the game watching experience at home is not only much cheaper, but much better. No admin of getting to the game, no queues to get in or go to the toilet, no one standing up in front of you as a try is scored, brilliant replays of all the important plays, home wireless so you can take in your preferred analysis via Twitter on your phone or tablet, a fully stocked coolerbox next to a fire burning down for the post match braai, and the choice of who you want to watch the game with …

The home game watching experience has evolved enormously in recent years as technology has been embraced. This while the stadium watching experience, especially here in SA at old stadia like Newlands and Kings Park, has remained stagnant. In fact, without the old curtain raiser, some might argue that it has gone backwards!

Throw in the booze fuelled testosterone (again, another issue that seems SA specific) that has manifested itself recently in a very ugly manner, and one can see why DStv feel safe in charging the monthly subs that they do …


  1. The worst part about watching live is the stadium announcer. The latest in thing is to get the crowd to shout “defence, defence” like we are American.

    Also the last game I watched they stopped showing contentious replays on the big screen, which I can understand, but it’s just another reason to stay at home.

  2. Another young man was beaten up in Brackenfell, playing on the field, by a spectator, he has to have scans and a lot of medical costs, now no-one seems to know who did it. (neck bone crack)

  3. Reading of these incedents is not going to be enticing too many tourists to go touring to South Africa for Rugby, Braaivleis, Sunnyskies and Chevrolet, that is certain…

    It would be great if these weekend warriors rather stayed at home letting parents feel safe in taking their young kids to watch the games instead of having to worry about if a fight was going to break out randomly near them when Mnr. Pawpaw and Mnr. Riekie Louw disagreed about issues.

    I recall my dad taking me to watch my first game of ruggers many years ago when EP played against WP in 1979. Man the excitement for my 5yr old brain was almost the best thing that had ever happened. EP lost that game at “The Boet” (Boet Erasmus Stadium) and WP went on to win the Currie Cup that year if I recall correctly… but that first live game was special.

    The idiots who fight really just need to be banned from games (I know I know, how do you control that?)

    Fact is this violence needs to be stamped out. Everyone needs to get a bit of the World Cup 95 spirit where rugby in South Africa was the greatest game and everyone behaved with a bit more dignity.

    Rugby is a fantastic sport and it goes to say that all parties from players to spectators need to be mindful of the sportsmanship required to enjoy the sport.

  4. Even as staunch Stormers supporter I hate Newlands. From the beer rules to people smoking in the stairwells to the parking to the booing to the Cape Crapsaders. I will only go if offered box tickets to a BIG game. I would go to almost all the games if at Cape Town Stadium.

Comments are closed.