Super Rugby goes to Twickenham: the fans’ view

We’re all about the fans here on The Rugby Blog, and Rachel Simmonite spoke to a number of people enjoying their first taste of Super Rugby on Sunday.

Sonny Bill Williams

Aussie Rules Football has been to the Brit Oval, American Football has been to Wembley, and the NBA has been to the O2 Arena. On Sunday, Super Rugby joined those ranks by playing at Twickenham, the first time a game has been played outside of the SANZAR countries.

There may be some people saying that such a match might not have happened just yet if it hadn’t been for the horrific earthquake that struck Christchurch last month. Yet like Wasps versus Harlequins in Abu Dhabi at the end of January, this fixture between the Crusaders and the Sharks has been arranged at fairly last minute and it brought about a crowd of just over 35,000.

For some of the fans it was their first experience of watching Super Rugby live. I went along with my friend, Roisin, who jumped at the opportunity when the tickets went on sale. “I was really interested in the match, particularly the Crusaders as they’re one of the best club sides in the world and they showed why today.” she said during our post-match de-brief. “Also it’s nice to have the likes of Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams over on these shores more than once a year!”

We both discussed the logistics of hosting it on a Sunday, but put it to the late arrangement of the fixture. “I think it would have been better to put it on a Saturday afternoon as it could have got a bigger crowd in, but with Quins playing at home that day it wouldn’t have been possible.”

As to whether she’d go to a Super Rugby game again if it were hosted over on our shores? “Yes, definitely! It was a great game, different from the Aviva Premiership games I’ve been to but the variety can be a good thing. I’d still love to see it down under as well though.”

I also spoke to a couple of expats who had come to the game to see their fellow countrymen play for the first time in a while.

Jake, a Sharks fan living in central London had only recently made the move to the UK at the start of the year. “This is the first year I haven’t been in South Africa for the Super 15. When the fixture was announced I instantly said yes to going, I have to admit, I had been missing it. The rugby is just not the same on Sky Sports, though their coverage is good.” If it had been between an Australian and New Zealand side would he still have gone? “I think so, if it was someone like the Reds or the Tahs then I would as they’re the best Australian sides, and the style of rugby is faster and classier, much more my thing.”

With £5 from the sale of each ticket sold going to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal, the fixture allowed the New Zealanders living in the UK to give something back to help Christchurch from afar.

For Will, from Christchurch, it was a no brainer. “My family weren’t too badly affected by the earthquake but some of my friends living in the city were. It’s been hard being over here and seeing the photos and videos of what has happened on TV. Going to the game today has allowed me to see my team play but also to continue and help support the appeal. I’m sure we all appreciate what Twickenham has done in staging the game at short notice, the atmosphere was fantastic, lots of money has been raised and the game wasn’t bad either!”

The Super 15 at Twickenham experience has been on the whole a good thing for the fans, though there were some negatives. From the quality of rugby to the good cause it was helping to support, it went down well. Will we be seeing another Super Rugby game at Twickenham next year? It’s up to the administrators but I’d definitely go again.

By Rachel Simmonite

Photo: Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images