David Moseley

Time to euthanise Newlands

2012-05-15 08:11

David Moseley

I was at Newlands on Saturday for the Stormers versus Cheetahs Super Rugby derby. I won’t be going back. And it has nothing to do with dire level of rugby being produced by teams in 2012. It’s the so-called "fans" that turn me off, the alleged rugby "lovers" who are chasing me away (and the rugby is rubbish too, but that’s another story).

Just before kick-off the Springbok flank Heinrich Brussow ran onto the field alone, in celebration of his 50th Super cap. What kind of ovation did this superb rugby player receive, this man who helped spark remarkable results against the British & Irish Lions, New Zealand and Australia, and who was integral to any success the Boks would have at last year’s Rugby World Cup?

He was booed, naturally. A man who represents his country at the highest sporting level, who is respected and feared for his rugby prowess by almost every major rugby nation, was jeered by the gormless hooligans who descend on Newlands every weekend.

Feeble-minded fans

Now that’s just not on. Newlands is already a creaking dungeon, a cold rugby dump if you’ll pardon the pun, and the reality is, the place has no atmosphere either. When the Stormers and Cheetahs were engaging in the ‘thrilling’ second-half episode of kicking the ball back and forth you could hear a pin drop, until a Cheetah’s player lined up a kick at goal. Queue chorus of childish boos.

I’m being harsh on Newlands, that’s true. I know the booing happens everywhere, even overseas. I notice it’s even crept into the English game, a place where, last time I watched a live match (not too long ago), crowds sat in respectful silence as goal kickers took aim with their penalties or conversions.

But what really gets to me is this mythical and mystical notion that Newlands is some kind of hallowed turf because of the great atmosphere it produces on match day. That’s nonsense. The biggest roar of the day is reserved for the tedious dancing girls who whip of their skirts...to reveal pants. Ooh. Titillating.

I think it’s time rugby sought out a new breed of fan. And I think those in charge of the game need to crack down harder on booing. It has no place in our stadiums. How can you, a South African, boo at your countryman simply because he’s walked on the field to celebrate a career milestone?

And I don’t for one second believe that it’s "certain elements of the crowd". When Brussow stood in the middle the jeering was loud. That’s not just 10 or 20 misfits engaging their feeble-minded brains.

To a certain degree I can understand the hissing and catcalls to show frustration when a team is not playing well. I’ll admit that it is hard, as a paying public, to have any influence on the team (it’s still inexcusable, though). But laying into a guy, a key Springbok who in three weeks you’ll be cheering on as you hoist your brandy sloshing gut over the braai, is just mindless.

It’s my hope that when the inevitable comes, and my beloved Western Province and Stormers move to the Cape Town Stadium, that these "supporters" will left behind.

I love watching my team play, and that’s why I continue to suffer through the Stormers dreadful intepretation of the beautiful game as a sport that’s only played with defence. But I won’t be back at Newlands while vulgar ingrates continue to mark their territory in the stands. That’s just not rugby.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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