You wouldn’t think there be something sad about a 70,000 passionate Welsh crowd. But yet when the final whistle blows on that international game and the supporters make their way to the nearest pub, they are never to be seen again….well not until the next home game.
Yet there are games every weekend! Regional games, club rugby games, tag rugby games. But not even half of this crowd are seen supporting the grass root level. £80 for one international ticket, I pay £80 for a season ticket! A full season’s worth of rugby! Granted I don’t get to see the top named good looking players, but that’s not why I go!
Take my club Aberavon for example, top of the table as it stands as we head into the critical stages of the season. Since the start they have produced such entertaining games leaving us on the edge of our seats for the full 80 minutes, scored some spectacular tries and played outstanding running rugby. Admittedly they have had one or two games that haven’t been up to much, but all teams have their off days!
And who knows, I could be watching the future Wales captain, the next top try scorer! Justin Tipuric once donned the Aberavon strip a few years back and now look at him! A key player in Wales’s starting 15, a craftsman at turnovers, and it all began at the clubs!
And next weekend Tipuric himself returns to Aberavon for a charity night! That’s the beautiful thing about rugby at grass root level! You could be sitting watching the game, and sat near a British and Irish Lion, they are only human after all and they too enjoy watching the game. If it entertains a player of such a high calibre then surely it can entertain us mere mortals.
Less than four months on since England hosted the World Cup, what steps did the RFU or the WRU take to make sure interest in rugby was kept alive. Admittedly England didn’t make it out of the pool stages and the rest of the home nations were knocked out during the quarter finals, but the tournament surely inspired people to pick up a ball and venture out to watch more rugby.
Yet here we are regions and clubs struggling, no team left in Europe, but as long as Wales are doing well we’ll just cover up the underlying issue and sweep the grass roots under the rug for nobody else to see.