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Opinion: Performance key to seeing Super crowds

Monday 25 Feb 2013 3:44 p.m.

Fans enjoy the Hurricanes against the Blues at Westpace Stadium (Photosport file)

Fans enjoy the Hurricanes against the Blues at Westpace Stadium (Photosport file)

It’s hardly surprising so few people turned up to watch the Hurricanes take on the Blues at the Cake Tin last Saturday - after all, who were they meant to go and watch? 

There was no star power in either side though there are a few players with potential. 

Hurricanes wing Julian Savea, Blues opposite Frank Halai, centre Rene Ranger and the dancing feet of second-five Francis Saili could get the turnstiles spinning in a bit of time. But few could be blamed for not reaching into their pockets last Saturday to watch them play live especially when most have already paid to watch them on television.

The Hurricanes best days were in the early 2000’s when they had a Rolls-Royce backline that included Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga. 

They stuttered too often because they were served by a Morris Minor engine forward pack but people still came to the games, with crowds in those years averaging close to 30,000 a game.

‘Expect the unexpected’ was the nifty marketing slogan and the Hurricanes delivered on that call for exciting inconsistency with some superb attacking rugby. It’s worth noting that was now a decade ago.

The Blues have a hefty challenge on their hands getting enough people to Eden Park to be called ‘a crowd’ but should be helped this week by the fact they’re playing the Crusaders and fans should be encouraged by what they saw (on TV) in Wellington.

This is a young Blues team and they will lose and learn along the way but they are least trying to play entertaining, attack, coherent rugby - something they failed miserably to do last year. The Crusaders will pull a few punters too because watching Dan Carter play is always worth a few bob.

But the problem for all rugby administrators is that most fans have already paid to watch their rugby through their Sky subscription and there is no guarantee that they will get value for money if they pay again to be at the ground. 

Add in factors like getting there and home, the cost of food, the weather (though that was no excuse in Wellington), no pre-game entertainment and the chance you and your children could be seated next to a foul mouthed hoon, and the sofa and remote control are enticing.

But nothing can replace the electric atmosphere of a good sporting event as those who watched the Chiefs beat the Highlanders in Dunedin learnt again. 

That was a cracking game - a template for all teams to copy if they want to play in front of even half decent crowds. 

People want to be entertained. They don’t want collapsed scrums, inane kicking, poor passing and catching, and over zealous refereeing. 

They want tries, big hits, sweeping attack and corner flag tackles. They want to be enticed and thrilled by players whose posters are on the walls of kids around the country.

Just over 10,000 were (officially and rather generously) at the Hurricanes-Blues match last Saturday. 

The crowd was so poor because those two teams haven’t produced enticing rugby for a long time. There were some signs though that they are at last capable of doing so. Build on that and the people may start turning up to their games.

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