Critics of Waratah booers miss the point

Bay35Pablo Roar Rookie

By Bay35Pablo, Bay35Pablo is a Roar Rookie

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    I have about three articles percolating in my mind for The Roar at the moment (and have been for about six months due to a one-year-old daughter and my job taking up 99 per cent of my time), but they have been pushed aside to give voice to my flabbergasted reply to the ‘Tahs boo crisis.

    I sat in the crowd for the Cheetahs game, in the same season pass seats I have sat with the same bunch of blokes since 2003, and watched one of the worst performances the Tahs have ever put it (and I have seen a few).

    The Cheetahs were workmanlike, and that proved enough.

    At the end of it, the crowd, frustrated at their team dropping the ball repeatedly, showing an apparent inability to cope with the Cheetahs simply competing well at the breakdown and an apparent inability to adapt their game-plan to cope, proceeded to boo their team.

    It is something I haven’t done before, and I can’t remember the Tahs crowd doing it before, but the performance was that bad it seemed appropriate. Crowds express their appreciation for teams and games with applause.

    There is a response available when the feeling is the opposite.

    In the following week I have seen what I can only regard as an overreaction from certain segments of the rugby community to the booing. You’d think the fans had stormed the field and sacrificed a pig on the pitch while demanding the Tahs all commit hari kiri there and then.

    The general reply seemed to be “how dare they”.

    Firstly, Matt Burke in The Sydney Morning Herald said, “In the most humble way possible – until you have played at Super Rugby level you can’t comprehend what happens out on the field.”

    The flaming that followed in the comments for that article showed that, for the vast majority of readers (including me), they disagreed with Matt.

    Then Ruggamatrix’s podcast last week, in a discussion between hosts Djuro Sen, Mark Cashman (whom I have the utmost respect for) and the Rebels’ Adam Freier, engaged in a critique of the booing.

    While indicating everyone was entitled to their opinion, the booing had “crossed the line”.

    Now I wasn’t present when Dean Mumm, captain for that game, was apparently booed during an after game interview. Or when the players coming out to the (remnant) crowd were apparently booed.

    I had already gotten out of the ground as fast as possible to go drown my sorrows at a nearby pub. I can say that may have been pushing it a bit.

    However, the suggestion that the Tahs crowd somehow (there seemed to be a suggestion by Adam Freier Tahs crowds don’t usually show enough passion in good times to entitle booing in the bad times, like AFL crowds) weren’t entitled to show their displeasure by booing is just ridiculous.

    Further, this criticism seems to completely miss the point.

    That booing to me was pretty much the culmination of years of Tahs supporters being disappointed and let down. A South African team, a wet night – the crowd was pretty poor, so the fans there must be considered the rusted on fanatics.

    The fact that the crowd against the Cheetahs was as poor as 15 years ago (when in 2002 and 2003 games were sell outs, and even SAF teams got crowds in the mid 20,000s), and is close to matched by the crowd the Rebels can get for the Hurricanes, shows the Tahs (and arguably Australian rugby generally) have a deeper problem than just one game.

    Any regular reader of The Roar has seen the spleen venting that can go on against the Tahs on various issues, and much of it with some basis.

    This is not personal attacks on players, but criticism of deep seated problems in the administration of the game in this state, and also the way the team seems to be run and the philosophy it approaches the game with.

    The comments replying to Matt Burke’s article also touched on these.

    As such, I would argue that with the poor performance against the Cheetahs it finally all proved too much, and the crowd “snapped” (in as much as booing a poor performance is snapping, and going beyond the pale so far as to attract opprobrium from ex-Wallabies and the rugby media).

    With this in mind, one grinding win over the Brumbies is not likely to have salved the Tah supporters and make everything okay again.

    I support the Tahs and rugby with a passion, and I have ever since seeing my first Super 10 game against Western Province in 1995 and thinking, “I’ve been liking this since the 1991 World Cup, but this is the game for me!” I have supported the Tahs through the long dry years when we had supposedly the best team in Australia, and did nothing with it, and then through the good (but not title winning) times of making the semis and even finals.

    I have travelled to Canberra to be abused by Brumbies supporters when losing, and see the Tahs’ first precious win away there. I have sat in the driving rain to watch my team at the beloved SFS.

    I put up having to justify the time and expense of going to Tahs games to my wife, while having a young family.

    So when “my” team plays a dog of a game, and far below what they should have, and I feel a bit disappointed in that effort, I’ll express that disappointment in the time honoured and traditional way. I’ll boo.

    It’s not a personal attack on the players, or questioning their integrity or so forth. It’s me saying, “I’m not happy! Pull you’re fingers out boys and do better!”

    After 17 years of cheering the stuff that deserved to be cheered, I’ll bloody well boo when it deserves to be booed.

    Here’s hoping from now on it’s all cheers to the end of the season!

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    The Crowd Says (56)

    • April 1st 2011 @ 5:43am
      sheek said | April 1st 2011 @ 5:43am | ! Report

      Good stuff Bay,

      You’ve expressed your thoughts & feelings well. I’m with you 100%.

      I didn’t even bother to read Matt Burke’s article. His banner headline told me all I needed to know – he was the one who didn’t get it!

      I saw the booing as a positive. For too long I’ve considered rugby supporters to be the “fair weather” variety. So if rugby fans care enough to boo, then I would consider that a positive. They’re not going to accept crap anymore.

      If only rugby fans had displayed this same collective passion 10, or 20, or 50, or 100 years ago!!! The history of the game in this country might have been mapped differently.

      I also think too many Aussie rugby fans live in a bubble, continually deluding themselves everything with the game in this country is okay. Well, it’s not, there’s a lot of problems confronting the game.

      Starting with a massive lack of player participant numbers & following through to sufficient fans who will passionately express their support, or displeasure, of the way the game is played & administered.

      BTW Bay,

      In 1999, Mark Cashman offered his best 10 Wallabies (of the century) for the Millers Sporting Guide (horse racing & general sports almanack). Mark Ella wasn’t among those 10 names.

      Ever since then I’ve come to the conclusion either Cashman was deliriously drunk when he drew up his original list, or his judgement is severely flawed…..!!!

    • Roar Pro

      April 1st 2011 @ 8:24am
      ptovey01 said | April 1st 2011 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      I read the first paragraph of the Matt Burke’s article and thought you upity little —-! His comment were very condescending. I’ll boo if I want to boo. You don’t need to tell us that is a hard game. Most rugby supporters have either played the game or been involved enough to know that. We pay our money so these blokes can earn a living doing a job that most men of any age would love to have. You play badly we get up set.

      Its abit like going to a Steak Restaurant. You pay $40 for a steak and ask for medium rare and you get well done. Are you gonna take that. NO WAY. That that back and get me a new steak cooked the way I want it. Now the waiter gets me a new steak and comps me for the meal.

      Unfortunately the NSW Rugby Union and Matt burke does not understand that we are consumers and rugby (unlike a steak dinner) doesn’t lend itself to going back to the start of the game and doing it over. Given the reported state of finances in NSW Rugby they won’t be giving us refunds either.

      So to communicate with these blokes we have 3 real options to explain our displeasure and ensure they know that its not good enough:

      1. The delayed method – Not turning up to the game putting NSW rugby in more trouble;
      2. The indirect method – Whinging and biatching on the Roar and other social media about it and hope that they read which given the burke comments they are too on themselves anyway;
      3. The direct method – booing, It happens then and there. it is humiliating and very uncomfortable. But far and away makes someone never want to be in that position ever again.

      So boys have a bit of heart tonight and kill these Cheifs and you poncy leather padded elbow old school boy type pull your head in, and think about the last time you returned a steak.

      • April 1st 2011 @ 9:26am
        p.Tah said | April 1st 2011 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        “Its abit like going to a Steak Restaurant. You pay $40 for a steak and ask for medium rare and you get well done. Are you gonna take that. NO WAY.” – I’d love it if you then went into the kitchen and booed the chef!

        • Roar Pro

          April 1st 2011 @ 10:04am
          ptovey01 said | April 1st 2011 @ 10:04am | ! Report

          I’m gonna try that next time the Chef comes back and says that a medium cooked steak is Medium rare.

          To date that has only happened to me once where the Chef argued a point like that. In the end he asked us to leave immeadiatley. Which was good for us, cause we had eaten 4 $20 entree’s and 2 $60 bottles of red.

          Maybe the Tahs can give away 2 for 1 pies, hot dogs and beers as a peace offering for the fans for 10 years of under achieving.

    • April 1st 2011 @ 9:05am
      p.Tah said | April 1st 2011 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      Bay, I was out of town and didn’t attend the game but I probably would have booed, but like you I am also one who cheers loudly. I rarely have a voice left after the game. You’ve summed it up perfectly, it wasn’t the game in isolation that triggered the reaction, its the years of unfulfilled potential and hype that unravels after 1 or 2 abject performances each season (last year was the Highlanders game)

      If the Tahs come up short tonight because they are beaten by a better team despite putting in their best performance, so be it. Its the poor performances that disappointment me.

      If there a silver lining, its shows that Tahs fans have passion and we care. In addition it got rugby into the headlines.

    • Roar Guru

      April 1st 2011 @ 9:18am
      Bay35Pablo said | April 1st 2011 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      Apologies for some typos and poor flow in there boys. I banged that out in about 30 minutes while trying to do my paying job without them noticing I am moonlighting as a sports blogger.

    • April 1st 2011 @ 9:38am
      Mary-jane said | April 1st 2011 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      My reaction to the Matt Bourke comment

      “In the most humble way possible – until you have played at Super Rugby level you can’t comprehend what happens out on the field.”

      Matt until you have actually paid for a ticket, you do not have the right to comment.
      I was at the game and booing was an appropriate response to the Waratahs dribble.

      The fans pay for tickets, therefore the fans pay the players. I think the players have to remember this, and the assistant coaches in Matt’s case.

      Going to that game cost me for myself and 3 kids over $130 all up (including food, parking ect..) Definitely not value for money.

      Going to that game cost me for myself and 3 kids over $130 all up (including food, parking ect..) Definitely not value for money.

    • April 1st 2011 @ 9:38am
      The Bush said | April 1st 2011 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      Bay,

      I’m unsure if you can quote a quote but here it goes:

      “Firstly, Matt Burke in The Sydney Morning Herald said, “In the most humble way possible – until you have played at Super Rugby level you can’t comprehend what happens out on the field.””

      What an idiotic comment to make. If we can’t “comprehend” what’s happening out on the field, then why are we paying money to watch them do it? We’re paying money to watch them do it, because in the main, we understand exactly what’s happening on the field.

      Having watched the Reds suck for untold years, I can happily reassure Waratah’s supporters that booing is not only an acceptable thing to do, but if done long enough, will yield results!

      I pay club registration fees, play and watch my local club team, pay a membership to the Reds and have Foxtel so that I can watch every game they play. I’m an invested party and I’ll express my opinion in any way I feel.

      I agree with you, sometimes supporters just become fed up with the whole process and institution, and like it or love, the players are the only individuals we can vent our frustration out on. If the administrators don’t like it, I’ve got a suggestion for them. After every pathetic performance (not a loss, a bad performance), they should come out onto the field and accept the boos on behalf of the players. And that include’s pathetic off field performances by the Admin!

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