General From the Herald - Rugby Crowds Down, Warriors Crowds Up!

LordGnome_old

Guest
Overloaded rugby fans rebel
Email this storyPrint this story 5:00AM Saturday April 21, 2007
By Steve Deane


Nick Williams sets off on a charge for the Blues at Eden Park but the empty terraces tell the story. Photo / Herald On Sunday
Rugby fans aren't just turning away from the television, they're also deserting the turnstiles.

Crowds at the country's five Super 14 franchises games have fallen by an average of 11 per cent on last year. The champion Crusaders have been hardest hit, with crowds dropping by 23 per cent.

The stadium figures follow a trend reported in a Herald story this week that revealed Sky TV was set to shed close to a million viewers from its Friday night primetime rugby slot over the season.

Feedback to that story flooded into the paper's website, with more than 100 respondents an hour joining the debate over a three-day period.

A range of reasons were given for the big turn-off. The most common included: rugby overload; the early start to the season; the enforced absence of 22 star All Blacks; the rules, particularly the new scrum law.

"Rugby has no soul anymore, it was sold to the corporates a few years ago," lamented a respondent named Ivan.

Could the country really be falling out of love with the national game?


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AdvertisementNo, say industry insiders.

The downturn was expected in a World Cup year, Blues marketing manager Grant McKenzie said.

"You have to go back and analyse crowd figures since the start of the competition. They do fluctuate and, in World Cup years, they do tend to be lower. Matters other than rugby are more top of the mind."

As for the state of the game - the apparent dissatisfaction with its structure and rules - that too was cyclical, Mr McKenzie said.

"It's the lineouts one year, the scrums another. It comes and goes."

Maybe so. But there are other signs all might not be well on planet rugby.

Last year a home Bledisloe Cup match against Australia failed to sell out at Christchurch's Jade Stadium. The Irish also failed to sell out Eden Park, and another premier event, a Super 14 semifinal - again at Jade - attracted a paltry 25,071 spectators.

But it's not all doom and gloom. The Waikato-based Chiefs have bucked the trend, building on last season's crowd and also increasing season memberships despite failing to notch a win in their first five matches.

"Every year when the competition starts there are negative people out there and people compare us to other sports," Chiefs marketing manager Pat Melsop said.

"I'm not saying some of those [complaints] don't need to be addressed - the game's not perfect and we're not perfect - but this happens every year."

Comparing crowd numbers is an inexact science. However, statistically the variables should balance out over time. And spectator numbers are down across the board.

Initially an NZRFU spokesman said the union was "keen to get on the front foot" and confront the issue. But late yesterday chief executive Steve Tew responded to the Herald's request for an interview with a written statement: "We are not commenting on the Rebel Sport Super 14 attendance figures or the trends behind those figures until the season has reached its conclusion."

League appears to be benefiting from the dissatisfaction with rugby. Crowds at the Warriors this year are up by more than 50 per cent.
 

Skinny_Ravs82

Guest
It's all pretty full on at the moment thou, the cricket world cup, the league, yachting...spoilt for choice. People also tend to be bangwagon types (not all but some).
 

westie stylz_old

Guest
Shame the Warriors are still getting crowds that are much lower than in their heyday and at the lower end of the NRL spectrum.

They have a good team and so should be getting a few thousand more each week. Hopefully when they get to the point that people are sure that they will make the top 8 that they will get average crowds of 15,000+ Even suburban Sydney teams are getting that. Melbourne and the Warriors get the two worst crowds in the comp in my opinion when compared to the population base and the quality of the team. Other teams either get more along or are awful teams (ie. Souths in previous years). Our corwds this year have been better than last year but so they should be. But they are still pretty mediocre corwds at best.

I need to get rid of my $3000 debt so I can come along boohoo....
 

Skinny_Ravs82

Guest
Yeah Storm and Warriors are in sorta similar situations. No matter how many people turn up to watch the Storm it certainly pales in comparison to the AFL crowds
 

mosh_old

Guest
I think it is a big misconception that the Rugby fans are now coming to the Warriors game. I think it is incidental that the RUGBY fans are staying away and the WARRIORS fans are coming back.
It is like my uncle who cannot drive and do the fingers at the same time at people that tick him off on the motorway, it is incidental that he would do the finger and maybe shout an expletive out the window and slide into the other lane unintentionally, but does not mean he meant to do it.
 

Joe 90_old

Guest
Shame the Warriors are still getting crowds that are much lower than in their heyday and at the lower end of the NRL spectrum.

They have a good team and so should be getting a few thousand more each week. Hopefully when they get to the point that people are sure that they will make the top 8 that they will get average crowds of 15,000+ Even suburban Sydney teams are getting that. Melbourne and the Warriors get the two worst crowds in the comp in my opinion when compared to the population base and the quality of the team. Other teams either get more along or are awful teams (ie. Souths in previous years). Our corwds this year have been better than last year but so they should be. But they are still pretty mediocre corwds at best.

I need to get rid of my $3000 debt so I can come along boohoo....

Brother, waiting for the day they bring a game down to Rotovegas. Not just a pre season either. Man were starved of that sort of entertainment at the moment and as proven by the British Lions game last year which drew 30 000, i'm sure we could get 20 000. It would just be such a novelty here. C'mon Mr Watson and Scurrah there's a lot of support in the provinces, show a bit of vision.
 

Matrix_old

Guest
I used to watch rugby every weekend but tbh i haven't watched one game this year its like watching paint dry eg walking to scrums,resetting lineouts & scrums,kicking to touch,goal the amount of time the ball is actually in play is like 10 minutes & its sooo boring I'm not surpised crowds are down
 

Northern_Union

Guest
there seems to be more talking about league where i work than there has been in the last few years.

Union is still top of the heap in turns of staff room chatter but league is not far behind at present with a surprising number saying they don't bother watching union anymore but will watch a NRL match.
 

LordGnome_old

Guest
I don't think that rugby fans are coming to league, its more that they are bored with rugby - lets be honest, nobody under 50 watches the Super 14 on tv and the stands are empty (except in the corporate boxes, where nobody has to pay!)

The Warriors crowds should keep going up this year, as we have a good - if not spectacular - team, and started with a couple of wins (and on the same number of points as the other 15 teams!)
 

LordGnome_old

Guest
The other thing to bear in mind is that New Zealand is the only country in the developed world which doesn't publish the attendances at sporting events.

Is this because it would embarrassing to print that only 10,000 people turned up for a "Super" rugby game at Dunedin (or that only 750 watched Northland play Southland?)
 

Esoj_old

Guest
I watch both league and union and I am happy to do so. the new scrum laws in union have made it a bit of a joke and that could defintely be turning off people watching the game. also several teams have had massive injury problems so the overall quality of the competition has dropped. the top 22 all blacks were also missing for the first 6 weeks or so of the competition which imo anyway defintely would affect people watching or going to games. the cricket world cup has also been on and our team has been going quite well so I have no doubt some casual viewers will be watching that instead of the rugby.

the warriors did not have a massive off field incident like last year and are also wining games so of course the crowds would be up. I think it would be terrible if there wasn't an improvement. the crowds though are still fairly shocking especially with the team in reasonable form. newscastle were getting more than we are now when they were losing every game and were at the bottom of the table. union numbers maybe down but there hasn't exactly been a huge switch to league either. going from what 4-6 thousand crowds to around 10-12 isn't really that amazing. sure it is good but with a well performing team you would think more would show up to games. hopefully some more people start showing up and the boys keep wining especially at home
 

*Kimmy*_old

Guest
Super14 has been a yawn this year, I agree with Esoj about the new scrum-laws they are probably turning people off. I've still watched it though!! Even with my beloved Hurricanes not having the best of seasons. :(
 

*Kimmy*_old

Guest
I don't think that rugby fans are coming to league, its more that they are bored with rugby - lets be honest, nobody under 50 watches the Super 14 on tv and the stands are empty (except in the corporate boxes, where nobody has to pay!)
Your wrong there.
 

Kav_old

Guest
It has been an exciting start to the NRL season with plenty of close games.
Super 14 appears to have made the mistake of adding a couple of teams and thus watering down the quality of football (though I couldn't be sure as I haven't watched it). May be they also need to look at a couple of rule changes (abolishing lineouts with a tap or play the ball and reducing the number of players in each team to 13 might be a good starting point).

Kav
 

LordGnome_old

Guest
OK, I'll re-phrase that - I don't know anyone under 50 who watches non-international rugby union on tv (and I don't know a single person who pays to go and see rugby union with their own money.)
 

Northern_Union

Guest
OK, I'll re-phrase that - I don't know anyone under 50 who watches non-international rugby union on tv (and I don't know a single person who pays to go and see rugby union with their own money.)


Actually thats a good point, at my work the blokes that talk union are generally older...
 

LordGnome_old

Guest
Same here, they are in their 50s and they are loyal to the rugby on the television.

Its probably an Auckland thing, but there are so many corporate tickets for the Blues about that you can generally go to a game if you want and not have to pay.
 

LordGnome_old

Guest
Whilst I am on the subject, the last time I went to the Blues - on a freebie corporate ticket with work of course! - the crowd was predominatly middle-aged and over (the family stand wasn't even open!)
 

Skinny_Ravs82

Guest
For mind I still love watchung union and I'l never tire of it. However ever since the expansion of this comp for 2007 has soured it a little. The competition did great as just as the 12 teams and made it more fun, but with the xtra two teams it's dragged it on longer then it needs to. I know we get that around with the NRL but it hasn't exactly exended it, they've taken one round off and one bye week off.
 

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