Hard truths: When I woke up and realised I was a casual fan

Andrew Kennard Roar Pro

By Andrew Kennard, Andrew Kennard is a Roar Pro

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66 Have your say

    I love weekends, they give us time to ponder things.

    This Sunday was no different, as I was struck by a strange thought as I realised I had missed all the rugby this weekend.

    How odd, I thought, I love rugby… Upon examination there were several likely culprits, a wedding to attend, the other small sporting event taking place right now (that France Argentina game was amazing by the by) and of course the general malaise that afflicts us all from time to time where for some reason we decide to not watch TV for a day or two.

    Israel Folau celebrates

    Super Rugby (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    However, for all these reasonable preclusions, I am forced to admit that the real reason I didn’t watch is probably that I have become that loathsome creature known only as the casual fan.

    Wow, that hurt to write. My understanding of these things is that the first step to recovery begins with realising that you have a problem. So at least I have that going for me, which is nice.

    But at least it offers a certain freeing of the mind, so I intend to use this hopefully short time of deviance from the one true path that is forever rugby, to look with new eyes and see rugby, the game they play in heaven, the good and the bad, for what it is.

    So taking a look at the game I now casually support I can determine a couple of things.

    Firstly, assuming that The Roar is indeed the premier sporting website I can see that people are firmly in FIFA World Cup mode.

    And rightly so, the biggest sporting event on the planet is bound to dominate the columns for at least the next two weeks. As it gears up into the knockout stages and things get even more, hehe, fever pitch, this will only continue.

    As a long time fan of the beautiful game and festivals in general, I love it! It’s great. This is not a slight on rugby in any way shape or form, it is an external influence on the game, but in all honesty, it is part of the reason I didn’t watch the rugby.

    Make of that what you will, but the excitement coming from the end of a cracking international series against Ireland, combined with increasing excitement for the knockout stages of the World Cup, the inevitable come down to Super Rugby just didn’t do it for me, so as to speak.

    Socceroos Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan react after losing a World Cup game

    Socceroos Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan. (SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Perhaps if I had seen any sort of hype for any of the games it might have been different.

    Secondly, the Optus debacle and the subsequent SBS pick up has confirmed my long held suspicion that rugby is shooting itself in the foot with its distribution model.

    With the Premier League being on Optus, the rugby being on Foxtel, the cricket on Seven, I feel forced into making these shitty decisions regarding watching sport.

    Looking at the above three as examples (and there are many, many more variables to complicate things) you have a reasonably priced Optus package, being delivered on not reliable internet infrastructure (the lagging at times is infuriating).

    An expensive Foxtel is delivered nearly always on time. Then there’s Seven – a free, but with constant gambling advertisements, service that has the highest fidelity regarding transmission.

    All up, the current sporting platform wars are just too much for me to commit to being anything more than a casual fan.

    Maybe that sounds a weak or lazy excuse but if I’m noticing this, and I was a rusted on Reds member from the bad old days with 92-3 shellacking at Loftus which I watched, even after knowing the score beforehand. Maybe it’s time for this to be addressed…

    And finally, other people. Aren’t they just the worst? People organising events like weddings and parties and whatnot, while there is rugby to be watched are just plain selfish, I mean, what about me?

    So my first observations are about not even watching the game, so this probably isn’t going all that well. It seems like this will be a multi part expose, but those are some of the initial stumbling blocks I have so far encountered.

    I have come here looking to regain my fandom, help me Roar readers, you’re my only hope.

    Getting hassled by a parent or partner about spending too much time playing video games? Now, you can tell them the story of how some ordinary gamers scored $225k for just seven weeks of work.

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    The Crowd Says (66)

    • July 3rd 2018 @ 4:01am
      Sherry said | July 3rd 2018 @ 4:01am | ! Report

      Good to read something so well written, Andrew. I’m not a fan of the round ball game except for the World Cup. I’m astonished all over again at the talent of the players – light years ahead of the skill level displayed by most SR pros. The broadcast I get from ESPN here on the West Coast picks up English commentators who demonstrate how a game should be handled – just the one expert per game who finds time while analyzing the action to tell us inside notes about the players, and something about the history of the teams on the field. What a contrast with the way the Oz rugby trio crunches out the same cliches every week. If I can get the BBC or the ESPN feed for the RWC, I’ll get back to being a permanent rugby fan.

      • Roar Pro

        July 3rd 2018 @ 8:49am
        Bakkies said | July 3rd 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        ITV have the UK RWC rights.

        • July 4th 2018 @ 8:38am
          ozinsa said | July 4th 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

          Not sure I know the actual rights ownership breakdown but BBC and ITV have shared the games this far. This was the first England game not on BBC

          • July 4th 2018 @ 12:21pm
            Bakkies said | July 4th 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

            That’s for the Football and Six Nations.

      • July 3rd 2018 @ 12:01pm
        Phil said | July 3rd 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

        Can’t say I am a great football fan,Sherry,but like you I really appreciate the English commentators.I would not even have a clue about their names(or whether it’s the same commentator I have heard for all the games),but they are so accurate with all aspects of the game.And,as you say,no need for any extra comments person,they do it all.
        I am afraid I am also becoming a bit like Andrew.Not so long ago,I would forgo all sorts of activities so as not to miss the SR games,especially when my team was playing,but now I don’t really care if I miss games,except for the Wallabies tests.

      • July 3rd 2018 @ 1:40pm
        Damian Martin said | July 3rd 2018 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

        What are you talking about…
        To say that the skill level on display is light years ahead of SR pros is ludicrous.
        Completely different skills required…obviously.
        Rugby players would destroy and run rings around and straight through the fragile physiques and egos on display at the football WC.
        Imagine Neymar being subjected to a rugby tackle…the histrionics would be Oscar like not that they already aren’t as can be seen by his cringe inducing blatant cheating.
        The same can be said for football players running rings around rugby players in football skills.
        Comparison is absurd.
        You only need one commentator because football is a simple game.
        Rugby requires various commentators because it is a complicated game that has compartmentalized skills.
        This means meta analysis.
        I like to engage my brain when i watch sport.
        The only way i can compare the two codes is to liken football and rugby league for that matter to draughts and rugby union to chess.
        I don’t care how many people around the world choose football…it requires a completely different mentality to play it and when i see players writhing around on the ground in agony imploring the referee to give them a false advantage…it makes me sick and yes,from time to time you see a rugby player seeking advantage by exaggerating the effects of a tackle but the difference is fans and spectators don’t accept it and referees more than not see right through it….it is unacceptable and therefore very rare.
        I am a rugby union lover…i absolutely love analyzing lineouts,scrums,rucks,backline alignment and all the other mini contests that make up a rugby match.
        You’ll get back to being a permanent rugby fan?You do understand what permanent means don’t you?
        Therefore it’s too late for you.
        I suggest you keep watching the ‘simple’ game.
        This article was written for casuals by a casual.
        It should have been titled as such…

        • July 3rd 2018 @ 2:41pm
          Pocock is a cancer said | July 3rd 2018 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

          Not elitist at all here, nope.

          • July 5th 2018 @ 4:26pm
            Uncle Eric said | July 5th 2018 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

            Not sure what you mean by the ‘elitist’ comment PIAC. Perhaps you could enlighten us. But if you are commenting on Damian Martin’s piece I believe you’ve missed the point entirely.

    • July 3rd 2018 @ 4:02am
      Ex force fan said | July 3rd 2018 @ 4:02am | ! Report

      Good article Andrew and I share your “casual relationship” with Superugby. I remember when we used to “disappear to the toilets” one at a time during weddings to watch a couple of minutes of rugby and to get an update of the score for my dad and brothers in rugby mad South Africa – and then the infuriated look we got from mum. Our brides were warned to avoid major rugby games if they do not want to share their wedding day and limelight with rugby. Now I tape all the games on fox and then deleting them without watching any of them – week after week. I used to watch every single game live staying up till 3am on a Sunday morning for the games played in South Africa, this changed to picking two of three games when Super 18 began and now I could not get bothered. The same teams will make the finals year after year, as the competition is stale and predictable. I taped the Ireland-Wallaby, France-All Black and England-South Africa series and even then only watch one test per weekend. Now I am now catching up on the test matches I missed….and still do not think I miss anything important. I do not even the tape the highlights.

    • July 3rd 2018 @ 9:24am
      Another Casual Fan said | July 3rd 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      I went to a 50th recently with all my old school mates (all ex club rugby players) and sadly very few paid anything other than casual attention to the (3rd) irish test on the tv that had been arranged for us. The main rugby conversation I heard was, with a tone of sadness, discussion of why no one was particularly interested.
      The main reasons seemed to be the poor standard of Australian Super rugby teams were not worth paying expensive foxtel bills for (why else have foxtel?) completing a disconnection with Super Rugby as a product. Other factors mentioned was the complicated rules and refereeing slowing the game (the more rules you make, the more refereeing there is going to be). Dislike of the “****head” Wallaby coach and political administrators also rated

      • Roar Guru

        July 3rd 2018 @ 2:30pm
        Train Without A Station said | July 3rd 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

        Part of that is inevitable change though.

        In 2008-2009 I’d make an effort to travel an hour each way to a couple of Reds games and never miss a game. We started our dry spell vs New Zealand around that time too.

        Right now I don’t even get to all the Rebels games I plan to and live 30 minutes walk from AAMI Park.

        The reds were dire and so were the Wallabies at times a decade ago but I never missed a game. Now whilst the Reds are probably equally dire but I have passing interest in the Rebels as a fan, I just don’t have the same interest.


        Well Friday I simply didn’t get away from work early enough. Also had a pretty important game on Saturday. Spending more time involved with running the club I play for. Plus my girlfriend has the hide to not check the fixture before making dinner plans sometimes.

        What does that tell me? It’s not the game that’s changed so much, but me.

        • July 3rd 2018 @ 3:17pm
          Andrew Kennard said | July 3rd 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

          I too asked my partner if it was I that had changed or the game, we agreed it is almost certainly both, but I will have a look at a couple of actual games this weekend and write a follow up piece next week. This one was more about the hurdles even to watch the game.

          • July 4th 2018 @ 1:48pm
            Fionn said | July 4th 2018 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            I think the game has become relatively more physical, more about power, than it was even ten years ago.

            I also think that the increase in bench sizes hasn’t improved contests. Nowadays over half of your team (and virtually all of the tight 5) are replaced, and so tiring defences mean that games do not open up at the end to the extent that I feel like they once did.

      • July 3rd 2018 @ 4:15pm
        CJ said | July 3rd 2018 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

        Your musings ring pretty true. Of course rugby is at a saturation point now and only a loner/fanatic would watch it all. Having said that, I happened to watch the Denmark v Croatia game and what a boring way to spend 90 minutes for the casual sports fan. The Wallabies have to get their act together – otherwise watching their games becomes an act of loyalty (if not psychological suffering) rather than enjoyment.

    • July 3rd 2018 @ 9:43am
      Doctordbx said | July 3rd 2018 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      The situation with Rugby only being on Foxtel is not going to change while Fox Sports commentary team is a stepping stone to working at Rugby Australia.

      So it’s never going to change.

      Welcome to the world of fringe sports like ultimate frisbee and darts.

      • July 3rd 2018 @ 11:07am
        Another Casual Fan said | July 3rd 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

        Sure. And many people still wont pay for it

    • July 3rd 2018 @ 10:41am
      Onside said | July 3rd 2018 @ 10:41am | ! Report

      Hi Andrew, years ago I started my sporting supporters life in Melbourne, VFL and cricket.

      Back then I only knew two people who played tennis, and only used tennis balls to play
      back yard cricket, but never owned a new tennis ball (in those days white) in my life.

      I went to a High school at a time there were only six high schools in Melbourne that went
      to form 6 (year 12) University entrance level.

      The school played many sports including rugby and soccer , but I dont know any student
      who watched any school representative game, and never saw either game played or had
      the foggiest about the rules.

      Rugby and soccer operated in a vacuum as we cheered on school VFL and cricket teams
      on the magnificent school oval.

      Fast forward several decades ,and my grandchildren either play or once played, Aussie
      rules, rugby, league , soccer, basketball etc , having been introduced to and had a crack
      at these games at school. The local schools offer surfing as a subject.

      I managed an under age soccer side, and several kids would the next day play a game
      of rugby with the local club .

      They would go home and watch the Broncos playing , or a SOO match.

      In time every youngster settled on, and played their favourite sport, but because they had
      been introduced to a variety of codes, they understood enough about each game to look
      at or attend key contests on TV or live.

      They became casual fans; a broad sporting church.

      • July 3rd 2018 @ 3:24pm
        Andrew Kennard said | July 3rd 2018 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

        Interesting. I’ve always just assumed a virtual saturation of AFL in Melbourne. On the plus side, being a general sports fan in Melbourne must be very convenient.

        • July 3rd 2018 @ 5:33pm
          Onside said | July 3rd 2018 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

          I omitted to say for the last 30 years I have been living on the Sunshine Coast
          in QLD. Prior to that I spend several years in Sydney where I watched Balmain
          Tigers, and The Waratahs at Concord oval .

          In my rush to post, the main point I also never made was schoolchildren in QLD
          get introduced to a wide range of sports these days, and subsequently grow up
          with a broad understanding and appreciation of them all.

        • July 3rd 2018 @ 5:33pm
          Onside said | July 3rd 2018 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

          I omitted to say for the last 30 years I have been living on the Sunshine Coast
          in QLD. Prior to that I spend several years in Sydney where I watched Balmain
          Tigers, and The Waratahs at Concord oval .

          In my rush to post, the main point I also never made was schoolchildren in QLD
          get introduced to a wide range of sports these days, and subsequently grow up
          with a broad understanding and appreciation of them all.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 3rd 2018 @ 10:56am
      piru said | July 3rd 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      I missed all the rugby this weekend too and barely even noticed.

      I took a quick look on a rugby FB page I frequent, saw several pages of comments complaining about refs and decided it was not worth the effort to even engage.

      If being a ‘real’ fan means being perpetually miserable I guess I’ll remain a casual!

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