Viva the digital revolution

Instead of ask us fans to be more polite on Twitter, Tank Lanning, writing in his Sport24 column, suggests showing us a strategy to address the real issues in the game.

Tank Lanning

The physical revolt is in full swing via dwindling stadium attendance and TV audience numbers, and now we are seeing an intense and feisty digital revolt from rugby fans that are frankly, gatvol.

Based on the sudden departure of Bok skipper Adriaan Strauss, and the reactions to jibes on Twitter from Damien de Allende and Morne Steyn, it’s fair to say that it has been noticed.

I have seen a few calls for fans to bite their tongues a bit when having a go at players on social media, but I reckon it’s time these guys took a concreate pill and hardened the hell up!

Booing players has been around for ages. As has spitting on players as they leave the pitch – thankfully mostly in soccer. Comments on articles and columns arrived with the internet, as did personal Blogs allowing anyone to be a publisher.

They hurt. Believe you me, I know – from personal experience as both a player and a columnist.

Social Media has just made it even easier for people to vent, and to now get really personal by tagging players in posts. It’s now almost impossible to ignore.

I feel for the players as they are mostly a bi-product of what organisations and administrators put out there in terms of tournaments, selection criteria and structures.

But they have chosen a path and should know what comes with it – and I am afraid it’s not only fame and fortune. They also don’t have to be on Twitter or Facebook.

So let’s not make like the SABC and not show the riots.

Instead, let’s look at the reasons people are choosing to riot.

On Tuesday damage worth R10 million was caused during a protest in KwaZulu-Natal. It included setting fire to a Social Security office and a water tanker. To my mind it is the sickest form of protest given that people are destroying the very things they need.

But it is an extreme way of getting heard.

I’ll take a few strongly worded Tweets over a burnt down stadium!

The point, though, is that rugby fans want to be heard.

So let’s not try and treat the symptom by asking fans to be polite on Twitter, let’s rather look at the reasons they are so damn hacked off. And more importantly, address them.

You don’t treat cancer by giving sufferers of this cruel disease a Panado for the pain in their arm, you attack the source with one of the most brutal “Cures” in all of medicine. Chemotherapy not only kills the cancer cells but also the healthy ones. So brutal is the treatment that a new study shows up to 50 percent of cancer patients are killed by the drugs — not the disease, itself!

Comparing cancer to what we have going on in SA rugby right now belittles what millions of people suffering from this brutal disease go through every day, but make no mistake, we have some seriously rotten cells that are threatening to destroy the sport we love.

These I have detailed in previous columns and do not want to rekindle my depression by going through them yet again …

Rugby needs it’s form of chemotherapy, and that might mean losing a few healthy cells as we purge ourselves of the disease ridden ones.

But don’t ask us fans to take a Panado and stop Tweeting vociferously about the game, instead show us that you are being brave enough to introduce some form of strategy to address the real issues.

Do that, and I think you will see a much more receptive, and respectful, fan base.

Until then, viva the digital revolution.


  1. Agreed fully Tank. Rugby management in SA (especially unions and national) are not adapting to the changes. Supporters may perhaps not be experts, but they know the game better than they are being given credit for. Those managing our rugby need to listen to their ‘customers’.

    Supporters are expected to pay handsomely for tickets – so we can’t always expect our team to win, but we can expect a good performance. A terrible show at the Artscape will get terrible reviews. In the same vain rugby is also not immune to criticism.

    The matchday experience also needs a rethink. Tickets are pricey… and competes for your bucks against many other events. So to go and see the Boks for two hours play poorly, without being able to braai anywhere around Newlands is not good enough. Why has the Newlands masterminds not yet roped in corporates and provided paid for parking with braai facilities away from the residences? Make it easier for families to attend and make an outing out of it. Have seen this done once this year when Toyota booked Sans Souci parking for a Cheetahs Super Rugby game at Newlands. Wasn’t well advertised, but it worked a treat. You could park for free if you wore Cheetahs gear or drove a Toyota – and the area was kept neat and clean with designated braai fires and a team of braaiers taking care of your meat! I even won some merchandise and the Cheetahs coaching team + Harold Verster popped in. (Disclaimer: I am a through and through WP supporter but enjoyed the facilities due to Hilux power).

    On an additional level – the one of coaching – I also share the sentiment you raised here. We need coaches, and trying to attract them… but very little energy and professionalism when it comes to recruiting and coaching at lower levels. Been longer than a month now since I enquired (and bounced around between couple of people) about next available opening for Boksmart session. Not a single word yet. But if improving skills at school boy rugby is one of the remedies to a better Bok team, then recruiting and galvanising the next generation of coaches requires a lot more attention.

    Parting thought.. I am finally giving up on my Newlands season tickets. Been holding on, but for me the cost is now outweighing the luxury of having this piece of family tradition and heritage. Times are indeed changing.

    1. Lekker comment Giggs. Dig that Toyota match day concept. The have been by far the most innovative when it comes to match day. Flippen sad re the season tickets, but that is reality and the only way unions and administrators will learn …

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