Time for Waratahs to represent NSW, not Sydney’s east
Since the inaugural Super rugby tournament in 1996, the team that calls Moore Park their home ground have laid false claim to representing NSW. They even have the temerity to use the state’s flower as their logo.
New South Wales Waratahs. It’s a fallacy. To even call themselves the Sydney Waratahs would ring false but for the two or so games a year they play at Homebush (the first of which, against the Reds, would not have even sold out the SFS this year).
There is a quick, logical way for the Waratahs to turn around their tumbling home ground average and, with it, possibly start winning again – actually play for the state of NSW.
This would be dead easy, as evidenced by Tuesday evening’s Wallabies versus Scotland game played at Hunter Stadium, Newcastle.
Wallabies captain David Pocock sent an open letter to the Newcastle Herald on the Wednesday, praising the Newcastle crowd for their support of a losing side.
“‘To see over 20,000 people brave extreme conditions most of us had never experienced before, let alone also played a game in, was incredible, and is something the players will speak about for a long time to come,” he wrote.
Indeed the weather conditions were extreme, probably – as Pocock said – extreme to the point most had never seen. Unless you were from Newcastle.
The conditions on display were something similar to a storm which hit the town almost five years to the day earlier. A storm which saw a bulk coal carrier washed up on Nobbys beach and 10 people die.
Nevertheless over 20,000 people turned up in this abhorrent weather to support Australian rugby. Just think how many would have turned up if the weather hadn’t been reminiscent of a death-storm.
It was a testament to the people of the Hunter and not only their love for the game of rugby union but, as Pocock wrote, “also for their country.”
The people of Newcastle also have a strong passion for their state. And most of them aren’t aware that the Waratahs aren’t really representatives of NSW.
Were the Tahs to move two games a season north, they could, weather permitting, guarantee 60,000 bums on seats for those games.
For an organisation which has averaged just a smidge over 20,000 people per game for the 2012 season, these extra 20,000 people over two matches would be both money in the bank and priceless support for a team which has been booed off the field on more than one occasion this season.
But why stop there? Isn’t it time the NSW Waratahs started actually representing the entire state?
How about they start playing the odd game in Wollongong, Sutherland or Gosford? Hell get some balls and play a game out at Penrith instead of just sitting back and letting rugby league and AFL fight over Sydney’s west.
For far too long the Waratahs have made the claim to being NSW’s rugby union team, all the while bemoaning the falling crowds and the difficult market they have to exist in – what with there being nine NRL and now two AFL teams to compete with in Sydney.
When people think of the Newcastle Knights or the Brisbane Broncos the term that instantly comes to mind is ‘one team towns’.
Well the Waratahs are a one team state. They have the potential – and brand – to harness over seven million supporters.
Instead they play all their games bar two out of Sydney’s eastern suburbs, regarded as the most fickle area for sport supporters in the country.
It’s time to take their name seriously and begin representing all of NSW.
Because, as Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union president Phil Payne promised, “If the Waratahs don’t want to come we will go to the Brumbies and other provinces.”
After almost 20 years of being neglected by ‘their’ state, it could only be considered fair enough.
Follow Joe on Twitter: @joebfrost
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