I noticed that the last Chiefs game was played at Mt Maunganui. They also play home games in Rotorua, with Hamilton being their principle home. Why? Because they are all in the Waikato province.
It got me thinking, why don’t the Waratahs, who are supposed to represent NSW, only play at Sydney Football Stadium (sorry, they sometimes venture all the way to Homebush for the odd game also)?
There are obvious reasons to play in Paddington, and probably the main one being it is a large capacity ground close to the largest fan-base. This obviously can attract the biggest revenues.
However, the crowds at the SFS haven’t exactly been bursting the gates at Waratahs games in recent times.
This is no surprise, with recent seasons showcasing nothing but stifling and uninspired rugby as well as losing far more games than have been won. Hopefully coach Michael Cheika can remedy both of these problems soon.
Meanwhile, perhaps this can provide the perfect opportunity for the Waratahs to think a little outside the box by thinking outside Sydney.
I noticed that this year one of the poorest crowds recorded for a Tahs game turned out, albeit partly due to ugly weather, barely scraped 11,000 fans.
Why not take one of the seasons home games to a place like the Central Coast, Coffs Harbour or even Dubbo?
These places may not be by themselves heartlands for rugby but surely a Super Rugby game could be marketed to draw fans from the surrounding areas.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I would guess some fans from Orange or Bathurst would venture to Dubbo or a Gosford game would attract some of the fans from the Hunter Valley and Newcastle.
These grounds have capacities over 11,000 so if the punters do turn up the ground would look packed, the atmosphere more exciting and the revenue would be comparable to a poor night at the SFS.
This revenue could possibly be made up by merchandise sales to a relatively new market.
Is the idea of venturing outside Sydney far-fetched?
Probably, especially considering that the NSW rugby aren’t currently known for their innovation or superior management, but it actually follows in line with the current top down strategy that the ARU seem to be adopting (not that I agree with it).
Wouldn’t it be great to see the Tahs actually spread their wings a little?
I would argue that NSW country rugby once held together the backbone of Australian rugby. Why not pay something back?