A View On The Rugby World Cup…..

02nd November 2015
I might as well cannibalise an article written for another purpose to bolster my increasingly intermittent blogs. This page was your's truly's opinions on the Rugby World Cup and whether football can learn anything from a big worldwide tournament held in the UK - it was scribbled from a football perspective. The obvious answer is 'No Chance', but I do suggest a few things - but principally the differences are cultural and you'd have to address off-pitch behaviours, which have long evolved from on-pitch behaviours…… so that's that sorted then…………..

All the images below can be purchased from www.ppauk.com, the agency who I snap for. These images are such LowRes that if you try and download them, they will be pants. So there…...

Villa Park hosted a couple of games. It wasn't the Villa Park I've done football at……… food, coffee, customised stools, ethernet cables, parking……..

Milton Keynes, where a shuttle bus took you from the city centre to the ground and enabled a very efficient egress….. If only I'd spotted this shot 5 minutes earlier and had the lighting a seat lower in the stand...

Also, I personally I think Argentina should have been immediately awarded the trophy, simply because they have numbers on their shorts which eases the usual rugby captioning difficulties. Also they are colourful, have superb fans and spend ages wandering the pitch after games (carrying their tiny kids) and signing autographs and posing for the dreaded selfies……….

Rugby lends itself to more off-pitch stuff……. some fans made more effort than others

Pre match entertainment in Leicester

I also allude to the fact that the facilities laid on for snappers was superb and several Premier League Clubs who hosted games should be doing better. It was the first tournament I have snapped at actually gave priority (parking if nothing else), to snappers rather than the written press - perhaps acknowledging the amount of kit we have to carry compared to a little laptop…

Famous fans requiring snapping. The Hand Of God was as enthusiastic as ever

So, as we move into another international weekend devoid of our be loved Premier League, and as an England eleven take on Estonia demanding all our media coverage – you may be able to find a moment to reflect on the Rugby Union World Cup and can football learn anything from it?

Eventual finalists Australia in action

You may remember the Rugby World Cup? It was quite a big event until England got beaten and the tabloids lost interest….

Well, that's one thing the two sports immediately have in common. Both National Teams are distinctly average and subject to relentless media hype, to the extent we are somehow surprised when they fail early in competition. I can see a parallel in the style of management - maybe that is just me? In my eyes, both sets of management seem so concerned and frightened of the opposition, that our most talented sides are never fielded.

Passing out of a tackle at the last second…...

If we discount 'our' team (I'm English), what about the sport itself?

The first and main thing that, in my humble opinion, Rugby Union has over football is on-pitch. Quite simply, there is complete respect for the referee and related to this, no diving or acting. Its so very refreshing…… No prima donna posturing, no surrounding the referee and bellowing into his face, no face-holding related cheating (sorry, simulation). The game simply carry's on. Its not an issue… and long may it be so. You can't believe how blindingly obvious diving is at football when sat pitchside by the penalty area….. its pathetic, cheating and embarrassing. It is more commonplace in the Premiership but has distressingly filtered down the divisions.

A slightly high tackle….

Bread & butter conversion shot - framed between a couple of Tongans...

Two other rugby activities need consideration and you can use their success as a guideline. The TMO. Now rugby is a stop/start game so suits 'referral upstairs'. On the whole I reckon it is too slow and could be used to slow down games if it suits one of the teams. An upstairs referee who can bring items to the refs attention during the next break in play is another matter!! Could work? Secondly, sin bins. Always been an advocate….

Introductions of either of these would mean an element of respect for the referee. Yeah, right….

Nice tight action shots

The events themselves are very different. Big football matches are heavily policed and, despite some heavy-handed inappropriate security, probably needs to be. This is because of a segment of our England support, rather than being pro-England are anti-everyone else! There is nothing like sitting snapping a game in 2015 and hearing velvet tones drifting over you imploring you not to surrender to the IRA. Yep, its still there…….

Of course, as a snapper my problem with security is that it's now virtually impossible at any sport to take any image without a varied selection of high-vis jackets messing up your backgrounds.

Nice dive-over try's. Unfortunately most are not…...

At Rugby Union the fans happily mix and get along. First and foremost it means grounds are getting their biggest gates - there are no seats wasted due to crowd segregation. Beer flows copiously in the grounds I've done a couple of double-takes when I turn and see someone carrying three pints back to their seats right behind me.

Every picture tells a story……… 'Is it s try ref?'

Diehard football fans have somehow cited this as a criticism. People aren't proper fans if they are not tribal - they are only their for the event! Real sport doesn't do Mexican Waves! Personally, in this, polarised country I don't have any problem with people - usually in family groups, enjoying themselves. Organisationally, for snappers, it has been exceptional; friendly volunteers, brilliant facilities, parking for photographers (yes, we have the heavy kit and really need it), superb connectivity, food and a willingness to sort out any problems.

Argentina - my fav's. It has to be said that numbers-on-shorts go a long way. But they also played great running rugby and spent ages on the pitches after games interacting with their fans….

There are problems with rugby - too many makeweight teams, too many one-sided games. The games can be too stop/start. On the other hand people knew the fixtures when they bought tickets.

There is a distinct Southern bias to the competition - all the knock outs are 'dahn saff', and that includes Cardiff. The presence North of Milton Keynes, has been token in my opinion.

Beard of the tournament

Having said that and given the state of roads and public transport in their country, its been a good tournament. Many Premier League clubs should learn from how the Rugby World Cup worked in their grounds. Photographer making a significant professional point there, did you notice?

Two lowly teams, but probably the best game I covered. Canada v Romania

So, like it or not, as an event, The Rugby World Cup has been a success. Football should not be blind to this and should look at themselves and even the sport itself. I don't think we'll be able to rely on Sepp Blatter to do this for football much longer…

A naked man being ignored by the crowd. There was, however, a gentleman of the constabulary awaiting his arrival at the top of the stairs……Is there that much beer in the world???

All snaps available from: www.ppauk.com