Thank heavens I’m a Reds supporter and not a New South Welshman. Sure, the Queenslanders are coming last in the Super 14 at the halfway mark, but we can still have a successful season just by beating NSW on 14 April – nothing can save the Waratahs.
And by the look of the crowds at the last two matches, NSW Rugby will need all the saving it can get, or the Sky Blues will be in the red. A week ago just 21,000 or so souls suffered the Waratahs being belted by the Bulls. On Saturday night, the official crowd figure began with 18,000. Put another way, Aussie Stadium was more than half empty.
Sydney being shallow and fickle Sydney, winners get support and losers don’t. (Some people even went to the Aussie Rules when the local outfit had some success – but they were probably just expat Victorians.)
With the Tahs winning only one of their first six matches and, on present form, not looking like doing much better in the next seven, the best NSW Rugby can hope for is that the opposition at the remaining four home games have plenty of supporters.
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That is the case against the Crusaders on 31 March, but it will need a miraculously improved Waratahs performance against the competition-leading Auckland Blues next weekend to entice many Sydneysiders back for what should be a hiding.
The Queensland match will do all right, but the final two against the Highlanders and the Chiefs? Well, if you do want to go, you’d probably be fairly safe just buying the cheapest seats and then moving around to fill some of the gaps in the A reserve once it starts.
And the bottom line is that the rest of NSW rugby suffers when the Waratahs don’t attract rear ends to seating.
The Waratahs’ costs are covered, but with the stadium gate not making budget, the shortfall means less money for the clubs, juniors and the bush. The third parties that topped Lote’s contract up to $6 million might well have done better to invest there.