Twickenham has become the headquarters of corporatism in the UK and it stinks.
This is what you get as a spectator.
- The double banks of pitchside advertising constantly distract from the action.
- The top-tier of pitchside advertising is digital and flashes out rubbish including the ludicrous “core values” of the RFU
- Pre and mid match entertainment is pretty well non existant – replaced by pathetic advertising stunts by O2 – we were even treated to a demonstration of Wii on Saturday.
- Every participant from the “ball carrier” to the military band to the plastic beaker of beer is now officially sponsored
The dead hand of Woodward and his motivational seminars smothers any sense of spontaneity. Martin Johnson sits grim-faced in the stands, the joyless inheritor of Woodward’s legacy.
Then there’s the game. England emerge without enthusiasm or humour and play with torrid intensity but without joy. Every move is a drill.
The pace of the game is now so slow that the ball is in play for a fraction of the half which extends from 40 to 55 minutes due to injuries and video replays. A set scrum can be taken five times as both teams struggle to destroy the free flow of quick ball.
The 81,500 spectators pay huge sums for this twaddle; because they are generally paid for or have paid such extortionate sums for the privilege of a ticket, no-one is going to call the Emperor’s new clothes but you can tell by the mooted rounds of “Swing low” and the absence of any form of chanting that these fans have no base. There is no barmy army here and even the odd cries of encouragement from genuine fan are strangled by the corporatism that prevails.
The RFU have become so obsessed with making money and by their partnerships with sponsors that they have lost sight of the common fan and even the point of the event – presumably to have some fun.
Rugby union is not rubbish but it’s rubbish at Twickenham at the moment.
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