Rugby may well be the game played in heaven, but if we're not careful, it will be the ONLY place it is played!
We've been talking to some of the Australian Super 14 franchises, most notably the Reds and the Waratahs, about how the South African community in Australia can help ensure rugby survives. The way I see it, if the Australian franchises fail due to lack of support from fans then we may as well switch to watching rugby league, or just stick to watching the limited Currie Cup games to which we get access.
We need to generate support for our local teams at a grassroots level. We need to show up for the games and get the crowd numbers up. And I don't mean just to go and see the games where our favourite South African teams are playing.
Okay, I am taking a lot of liberties with my reference to “our” favourite South African teams as I have never made it a secret that I am a HUGE Queensland Reds fan! I know, I know, their track record the last few years has been poor to say the least, but we have had the pleasure of two of the biggest upsets in recent history. But I digress…
We need to support RUGBY so that the game we love continues to grow. If it doesn't grow, it dies. So the plan is as follows: Adopt your local team, either as your new favourite team, or if you just cannot even imagine how you could support any other team before the Sharks or the Bulls (I won't mention any of the others…they're not really worth mentioning anyway, are they?), simply adopt your local team as your Number 2 team.
As an example, say you're a die hard Sharks supporter still licking your wounds after the hiding the Reds gave you last year, do the right thing and support the Reds when they play anyone (EXCEPT the Sharks, of course). So become a Reds member (we've negotiated some great deals for memberships with all the franchises), put on your Queensland colours and attend every game in support of the Reds, until they play the Sharks. Then you show up as if you've never even dreamt of supporting the Reds and you simply want them stomped into the ground! The week after, regardless of the result, you go back to being a Reds supporter.
Just think of the benefits: All teams perform better when they have good crowd support, so you're going to ensure you support your favourite team, but also be cheering against every other opposition that could possibly take the crown, except for your own local team, of course. And if by some miracle your local team wins the Super 14, chances are your favourite team is runner up … or the other way around. Really, you win either way.
In closing, let me say that supporting the Wallabies is optional…after only 18 years in Australia I am not ready for that yet. (Said with sincere apologies to Dave Pocock!)