Friday, May 14, 2010

Changing the character of the game

I am a Saracens season ticket holder. We have an important match against Northampton on Sunday - if we win, we will be in the Guinness Premiership Final at Twickenham at the end of the month. I hope Saracens do well.

Last weekend, Saracens played Leicester away, and won. The win was a bit of a surprise to many. I wasn't at the match, but imagine that the Leicester supporters were not happy that their team had lost.

There were a couple of incidents at the match. The RFU have charged the Saracens Director of Rugby with ‘pushing a lady supporter from Leicester RFC’ and with ‘conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union and/or the Game’. Brendan Venter, the Director of Rugby, is clearly a man of some passion who has been responsible in a distinct uplift in results since arriving at the club.

In my experience, Mr Venter is however a miserable git - I sat about five seats away from him at one away match and it was like sitting near a man with his own personal thunder cloud. It was not a pleasurable experience - there was certainly no bon-homie.

Sarcens have but out a statement relating to the RFU charges, which may be read in full here. It reads well and is nicely polished and full of corporate spin.

One paragraph stands out:
“Brendan was put in an impossible situation at Leicester. Imagine Arsenal playing at Stamford Bridge, and Arsene Wenger being made to watch the game from a seat in the midst of passionate Chelsea season-ticket holders. It would not happen in football, yet that is exactly what happened on Saturday."
Yes, that's the problem. Rugby isn't football. Supporters from opposing sides sit with each other. We can drink beer in our seats and yet remain reasonable human beings.

Clearly as a Director of Rugby Mr Venter has to bring out the best in his players, usually involving some aggression and adrenaline. Mr Venter, leave it on the pitch. We do not want the game of Rugby Union going the way of professional football, where the behaviour of some supporters means that those from opposing teams are segregated. It would totally change the character of the game.

I would hope that rugby clubs would deal with opposing team officials with the utmost courtesy when seating their guests - but it is always down to the individual to behave appropriately. If someone can't stand the heat, then they should get out of the kitchen. It's a lot quieter in the car park.

Sorry. Had to get that off my chest. I am now running late.

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