View Full Version : Rugby Getting Bigger

Robert Burns
09-01-05, 00:01
Have any of you noticed that most clubs in the premiership now regularly have sell out crowds, almost all H Cup games are sell out and all the 6 Nations are always sell outs.

Rugby is obviously getting a higher profile in Britain, and the standard of Rugby is awesome nowdays.

How long will it be before some of these clubs start to refurbish their grounds to make higher capacity, or like Wasps and Leicester start moving to share with the local football team in order to save on expense.

Should they make this move, or should they stay on their own turf and expand till the are at the size of ground comfortable for the amount of crowd that attends.

Simon Griffiths
09-01-05, 13:01
No question on that one - stay where they are (unless they're already at a football ground, in which case they should move back where they were and expand!)

Three good examples are Gloucester, Leicester and Northampton, probably the three best supported clubs in the game, and they all have rugby grounds and the best atmosphere. The problem with football grounds is that even for rugby they separate fans. I think most will agree that this is about as un-rugby as you can get.

Leicester are contemplating a move to the new 'Walkers Stadium', however this is extremely unpopular with fans (so I have gathered).

In Gloucester, we were unwilling to move from Kingsholm, let alone to a football ground (although Kingsholm is the biggest ground in Gloucestershire anyway!) As such, they have expanded to 13,000 already and are getting ready to expand further to 16,500 - although even this is controversial, as the traditional supporters (including me) are complaining that the standing space in front of the Grandstand will be lost as the new one is put up.

That of course is the other problem with football grounds - they are shiny and plastic (and worst of all, generally all seated!) Then there is the playing on Sunday's - now that's just not right. All rugby matches should be played (at that level) on a Friday evening or Sarurday. I advocate all Friday matches, night games have better atmospheres and local players and referees can watch the top level of rugby in their area (another 10% to attendances).

...I could continue...

Robert Burns
09-01-05, 17:01
Some good points, but I like the Sunday games too, gives me great TV all weekend (although my family don't always agree).

At the end of the day these clubs need money, and higher attendance along with the TV revenue generates this.

BTW Leicester - Biaritz was awesome!

10-01-05, 10:01
The problem with football grounds is that even for rugby they separate fans. I think most will agree that this is about as un-rugby as you can get.

No, they don't - at least not at Causeway Stadium, Vicarage Road or Madejski. I've had some good banter with visiting fans at Causeway!

That said, Vicarage Road is a fairly cheerless venue with nothing to recommend it. But your home stadium is what you make it - the atmosphere at Causeway is absolutely awesome these days, and so much better than it ever was at Loftus Road. I hope Chris Wright gets to buy the stadium and develop it. I wouldn't mind Wasps staying in Wycombe for the foreseeable future..

10-01-05, 10:01
i'd add that not all rugby clubs are in a position to expand - leicester are comtemplating a move to the Walker Stadium PURELY (AIUI) because the local council will not counternance them expanding welford road... so they stay as they are or move to somewhere larger. Similarly bath's capacity opf about 8.5K (?) is woefully inadequate - but as the Rec is a public recreation field there is no chance of them being able to develop a more suitablyt sized ground.

saracnes old Bramley Road ground would have needed a phenomonal amount of development and infrastructure - hence their move. I've not been there but I suspect wasps old ground was probably the same. There may be money available to expand an already decent sized ground a la Kingsholm - but its a moot point that "whole ground" development such as would be needed at Bramley Road woulod be finabcially viable (is Bramley Road available for development even ... ist a very large space - publoec playing fields a la Bath?).

So - if clubs do move to football grounds it could well be that the reason is not just one of ignoring history etc - it could be they have little option.


11-01-05, 16:01
I have to say that before the WRU and one David Moffet ruined Welsh Rugby with their `Regionalisation' I was (well still am) a very avid Pontypridd RFC fan, and visited many English grounds during our Euro campaigns, and I must say that the Football grounds were the worst for atmosphere (Vicarage Road and Kassam Stadium), but grounds like Kingsholm, The Rec etc were superb, basically because there was no segregation nonsense and we all mixed in with plenty of banter and craic.

If anyone has visted Pontypridd's Sardis Road ground, you wouldn't have found a much better atmosphere anywhere else (I believe that Josh Lewsey's girlfriend thought it the best atmosphere she'd ever experienced during our Semi Final against Wasps two years ago)

Excuse the waffle, but I basically believe that moving to football grounds is not the way forward and would love for the Zurich Premier clubs to try and expand exisiting grounds

i'm all nostaligic now!!!

Simon Griffiths
11-01-05, 18:01
My views exactly. The atmosphere is completely different - now that is almost always true (however I admit that on earlier points I made a few widespread generalisations!)

The point made by Wayne at the end is extremely valid (and not just the nostalgic part!) The way forward for rugby is NOT ground sharing with football clubs. For rugby to move forward, we need not only fans but better financial foundations for both playing/coaching staff, as well as academies and youth development.
Wasps are finding that ground sharing is doing them no favours in this department, as they spend too much money 'hiring' the Causeway Stadium.
Whilst I disagree with Leicester moving to the Walkers Stadium, they have at least had the sense to make it a true ground share. Both clubs (RFC and FC) are paying for construction and upkeep. This means that Leicester will not be burdened forever and a day with paying for the privalige to use their ground every weekend for 1st team games/Monday evening for A games.
If a club have their own valuable asset in their ground it is good financially, logically/practically and legally. By hiring a ground there are the problems already mentioned, the key one being that the rugby clubs are paying 'top dollar' for inferior treatment, rights and atmosphere.

The way for a rugby club to consolidate and develop is to have the most valuable asset available all the time and have it under their control.

Just a Gloucestershire/Welsh view it would appear though.

12-01-05, 17:01
wayne - I'm not sure you actually read what I wrote! leicester CANNOT expand ebcause the city council (ie planning permission) will not let them. Bath CANNOT expand their ground because the city council *ie planning opermission and use of public facilities) will not let them. Saracens moved because either the ground they play on is also "public" land or the cost of building an entire new stadium is totally prohibitive - notwithstanding planning permission etc in an area that is at least 50% dwellings etc.

I'm not saying its RIGHT that clubs use football stadia - but in SOME cases there is little alternative. There is also the quasi-ecological argument of why should several different sports teams all have a seperate facility ? It isn't a problem generally in France where many grounds AIUI are municipal grounds hosting several sports - although there of course nobody in particular "owns" the ground or has squatters rights so to speak.


12-01-05, 17:01

so where are leicester and bath going to put the extra potential fans that the game is now allegedly attracting at their current grounds? Given they CANNOT expand the grounds because of council ie legal reasons unconnected with what they may actually want?


Robert Burns
12-01-05, 18:01

Thats the answer, strap all the extra fans to the bottom, float it over thr ground, problem sorted!

No planning permission needed either.

12-01-05, 22:01
Sorry Didds, I did misread you! Pontypridd had that problem a few years ago that limited our attendances to 8,700, the residents who could have a free view of games from their rooves/attics etc. all objected to proposals for development (tight b******s!!)

However as we are now a semi pro club a capacity of 870 wouldn't sell out now, damn you WRU!!!

it's a shame that development isn't allowed really, as I really think that Zurich Premiership rugby is taking off in a big way, I know of many Pontypridd fans who are so disillusioned with the farcical Welsh "Regional" set up that they travel to watch Glaws, Worcester or Bath of a weekend

13-01-05, 11:01
I donl;t necessarily want to start a "Was Moffat right" debate again, but from an external and dis-interested (but not un-interested!!) viewpoint what were the serious options? Weslh Club Rugby "as was" clearly wasn't producing the goods so why would things have improved with the status quo?

genuine query :-)


13-01-05, 13:01
It will be interesting to watch the Quins v Munster game on Saturday at Twickenham. IMHO it will demonstrate the only problem with using larger stadia - loss of atmosphere. When you move to a large stadium and the crowd is too small, you lose the atmosphere and the overall experience of watching a live match is diminished.

I don't think it matters in the slightest that a ground is shared with another sport. Perhaps some of the game's heritage will be lost if clubs move out of their traditional homes, but the positives outweigh the negatives...more people can get tickets, more people get a better view from the side of the side of the pitch, more revenue for the clubs = more wages for players (and consequent ripple effect down the line), more parking, smaller queues at the bar (maybe?), more under cover seating, etc. etc.

13-01-05, 21:01
Surely it is a question of looking at the particular ground share?

Wasps at Loftus Riad had the disadvantage that the dead ball area was very short - and even to get that they had to reduce the length of the pitch slightly. That's bad.

If the owners of the stadium insist on soccer style segregation of the supporters, that's bad.

If the two sports share the overheads, that's good.

And so on. Find the right balance.