Waratah week brings out the irrational hatred in all of us

Clyde Rathbone Columnist

By Clyde Rathbone, Clyde Rathbone is a Roar Expert

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    While it may be true that everyone loves a hero, there is little doubt that villains are usually much more interesting. And every great villain needs a bizarrely ambitious diabolical scheme.

    And who is to say your regular Bond villain type couldn’t also be a dyed-in-the-wool rugby fan? Such a character might decide to unleash his warped genius right here in Canberra.

    Here’s how the plan works: Before the Brumbies and the Waratahs are due to commence battle our villain purchases both teams for an absurdly large figure. The ARU, financially crippled and in desperate need of a cash injection cannot refuse the offer – and so for the first time ever two Super Rugby teams become entirely owned by one person.

    Then, minutes before the teams run out our Bond-villainesque protagonist orders them to swap jerseys. The Brumbies players will now become Waratahs and the ‘Tahs will don the Brumbies’ strip.

    As the players run out to a packed Canberra Stadium (this is my fantasy and the stadium is bursting like it’s 2004 dammit!) there is silence. Inside the minds of committed rugby men a war of cognitive dissonance begins to rage. Entire human systems shut down as rugby men throughout the stadium begin frothing, collapsing and convulsing. All the while our villain’s megalomaniacal laughter echoes through the stadium speakers.

    This is all just a recurring dream I tend to have during ‘Tah week, my Jungian analyst told me it was born from my “dark side”… so I shot him.

    But while I know nothing about analysing dreams I do know a little about Waratah week. And though I’ve been guilty of poking fun at the antics that rugby fanaticism often draws from grown men, if ever there is a time to embrace our inner rugby man and ready for some primal craziness, it’s during ‘Tah week.

    All the ingredients are in order. We’ve got Wallabies squaring up against Wallabies – with the prize fight being Pocock vs Hooper. We’ve got a top of the conference battle and a season-defining match up for grabs, and we’ve got world class coaches with tremendous vested interest in the outcome.

    Add to this combustable cauldron the fact that the Brumbies were soundly beaten by the Waratahs a couple of months ago, and that this is the first time the ‘Tahs will play in Canberra as defending champions. Deepening the drama are the homophobic slurs that blighted the last match. Cue the drums of war, this is going to be epic!

    As one of my former teammates said this week: “I have been surprised at the irrational hatred that has come over me in the last couple of days. Probably the first time I wish I was playing since I have retired.”

    I couldn’t possibly agree more strongly.

    Clyde Rathbone
    Clyde Rathbone

    Former Wallaby & Brumby Clyde Rathbone retired from rugby in 2014. Clyde is a writer, speaker and technology startup founder. A Roar columnist since 2012, you can follow Clyde via his Twitter page.

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    The Crowd Says (89)

    • May 1st 2015 @ 4:02am
      Michael said | May 1st 2015 @ 4:02am | ! Report

      Good luck to both teams! May the best team and man win!

      • May 1st 2015 @ 6:13pm
        Wozza said | May 1st 2015 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

        The Tahs will πŸ˜‰

    • May 1st 2015 @ 4:20am
      maxxlord said | May 1st 2015 @ 4:20am | ! Report

      Great article. One does wonder what all the fuss is about. I think the real clash in this game is at 10. If Lealiafano stays in that flyhalf slot for two or three more games he is going to cause a huge selection problem. Have always wondered why the brumbies don’t swap him and Toomua around.

      • Roar Guru

        May 1st 2015 @ 9:43pm
        RobC said | May 1st 2015 @ 9:43pm | ! Report

        Me too! He’s gotta fix his place kicks though

    • May 1st 2015 @ 5:06am
      Billy Bob said | May 1st 2015 @ 5:06am | ! Report

      CLL was making a claim for wallaby 10 a few seasons ago before a serious injury that has quietness his development since.
      At the time he was my favourite for 10. Yes the battle at 10 will be interesting. And 13. And 1. And 4.
      And 7.

      • May 1st 2015 @ 9:03am
        Funk said | May 1st 2015 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        and 2 and 6 and 11

    • May 1st 2015 @ 6:36am
      Redsfan1 said | May 1st 2015 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      So much has been made if this “grudge match” in rugby social media but I ‘llbet that less then 15,000 turn up in Canberra to bother watching it. One has to start asking questions on the future viability of the Brumbies when their crowds are incredibly low and a vacuum for dwindling ARU finances.

      • May 1st 2015 @ 9:22am
        Zero Gain said | May 1st 2015 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        What is wrong with 15,000 in a city with a population of about 380,000? That is about one out of every 20 people who would be able to attend.

        • May 1st 2015 @ 12:25pm
          Markus said | May 1st 2015 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          Given the Rebels game only got half that number, I’m sure the Brumbies would be cheering about 15000.

      • May 1st 2015 @ 9:22am
        p55mac said | May 1st 2015 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        As a Canberra alumni, the small crowds are a very worrying concern. Especially considering the Brumbies haven’t been on the upswing for 3 or so years.

        IMO it’s the cumulative result of several things, that are somewhat circular
        – The weather is average
        – More people have Foxtel
        – It’s expensive
        – No crowd atmosphere.

        Making people think “It’s cold, I can just watch it at home, It’s expensive! And I already pay for foxtel! And there is no one there anyway (including me)”

        *Edit: Zero Gain – nothing wrong with 15k I guess, but they used to get 20k+ for the bigger games. And this will be the biggest crowd of the season, unless they get a big game home final. The last home final they had was 11 or 13 thousand if I remember correctly.

        • Roar Guru

          May 1st 2015 @ 11:23am
          PeterK said | May 1st 2015 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          Exactly even for home finals the numbers are low. In the golden period they easily got 20k+ for a lot of games, now even for finals it is almost half that.

          I understood before because they did not make the finals for 10 years. Then they played very boring jakeball.

          However last season and this season they have played rugby that is both entertaining and winning yet the crowds remain absent.

          I believe this is a general malaise with rugby in australia. The waratahs despite playing ball in hand with very little kicking , and winning rugby the crowds have not revived back to where they were, despite increasing a small amount.

        • May 1st 2015 @ 2:19pm
          Seb V said | May 1st 2015 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

          You hit the nail on the head. Low attendance is because of the following:
          1. Weather – too bloody cold and miserably
          2. Location of Stadium – unconventional.
          3. Crowd atmosphere – People would tolerate the cold if the crowd was loud and atmosphere electric but its very quiet.

          If that indoor stadium is built in the CBD I wouldn’t miss a game.

          • Roar Guru

            May 1st 2015 @ 3:33pm
            Chop said | May 1st 2015 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

            1 It’s not too bad, even at this time of the year
            2 It’s 10 minutes from the centre of town
            3 The reason there’s no atmosphere is because people like you aren’t there to help create it.

            I like the idea of an indoor stadium but seriously that’s an easy excuse to make that doesn’t really add up. There is awesome public transport from the CBD to the game (again it’s only 10mins)

            You can get a burger and ticket deal on those groups sites for $20, that’s not to expensive if you really want to support your team.

            • May 1st 2015 @ 3:47pm
              Bakkies said | May 1st 2015 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

              Exactly the buses are free and you can park if you want to drive in. Where would people if there are that many going in to a match in the City?

              • May 1st 2015 @ 4:24pm
                James said | May 1st 2015 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

                Zeb V

                You sure you aren’t talking about ANZ Stadium.
                4. Flat beer
                5. Overpriced food

              • May 1st 2015 @ 7:17pm
                Colin said | May 1st 2015 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

                I still go to the game, but would much prefer to be drinking a decent stout than the chemical rubbish they serve at the stadium and date to call beer.

            • May 1st 2015 @ 5:32pm
              Squirrel said | May 1st 2015 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

              $70 for the force , $35 for stand up

      • May 1st 2015 @ 9:59am
        Paul said | May 1st 2015 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        I bet if it was 6 degree’s outside, windy and wet in Brisbane the Reds would struggle to get that many

        • May 1st 2015 @ 10:58am
          Bakkies said | May 1st 2015 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          The Brumbies have secured viability and aren’t surviving off ARU bailouts. As for the crowds the weather and stadium isa cop out. They’ve stayed away since Nucifora got the chop.

          • May 1st 2015 @ 4:59pm
            p55mac said | May 1st 2015 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

            My personal theory on the decline in Canberra crowds is that it coincides with the increase of households with Foxtel.

            Foxtel subscribers in 2004 where under 1 million
            Foxtel subscribers in 2014 where 2.6 million

            People are less likely to go to games because they have easy access at home. The cold, expense or crowd are not the single reason they don’t come, but it is cumulative.

            The question is how do we get people back to the games? You could try a blackout type scheme like the US, where they don’t televise the game locally unless a certain percentage of tickets are sold. I don’t think this would work because of the competitive sports market and negative policy solutions tend to be, well negative.

            Sure a fancy stadium would help, I recently went to a Colts game in Indianapolis at the Lucas Oil Stadium during a snow storm, and I was sweating it was so warm! And the stadium seating was fantastic, with great views and atmosphere all round. But frankly nothing like that is not going to happen in the next 10 years.

            So it comes down to the crowd and experience… The Brumbies are doing a pretty good job winning and entertaining, they could always do better of course. So we need more people at the games with more passion. Once you create momentum with members, it grows quickly – just look at the reds.

            Much easier said then done. But it starts with community rugby, schools, clubs etc.

            • May 1st 2015 @ 6:20pm
              Wozza said | May 1st 2015 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

              “The question is how do we get people back to the games?”
              Saturdsy/Sunday afternoon games maybe

              • May 2nd 2015 @ 8:06am
                Bakkies said | May 2nd 2015 @ 8:06am | ! Report

                Tried that didn’t work and now back to night games.

        • May 1st 2015 @ 3:16pm
          Ken said | May 1st 2015 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

          It`s never 6 degrees in brizzy at 7.30PM in may bro.. You might get 10 once in a blue moon in july aug but never 6 in May….

      • May 1st 2015 @ 6:36pm
        You're kidding! said | May 1st 2015 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

        Well if Qld can play well enough, maybe they could get 10,000 fans. Let’s not get too worried about the brumbies and their fans- at least they are playing some decent rugby

    • Roar Guru

      May 1st 2015 @ 7:08am
      Nick Turnbull said | May 1st 2015 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Greetings Clyde,

      Rugby aside; I’m intreagued as to your choice of firearm to shoot said Jungian analyst? And where did you shoot him? And how many times? πŸ™‚

    • May 1st 2015 @ 7:33am
      Lostintokyo said | May 1st 2015 @ 7:33am | ! Report

      As always, well written Clyde. Should be an epic match and probably season defining for the Aussie Conference. Hope both coaches give their players the freedom to make this a great game. Big games sometimes have the coaches adopt a “let’s not lose it” rather than a “let’s win it” game plan. Cheika and Larkham have a good track record in this regard so it should be bigger than Ben Hurr. I think I just quoted Alan Jones?

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