Hamish Clark: Why no one's going to the rugby anymore

The Crusaders' mascot gets the small crowd excited.
The Crusaders' mascot gets the small crowd excited. Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: There is just too much rugby. It was freezing cold. It's that simple. That's why I didn't go to watch the Crusaders on Saturday night. 

The semi-final against the Chiefs was full of crunching tackles, but the temporary stadium looked empty. Only diehard fans were rugged up like polar bears in the sub-zero temperatures.

Where was the media build-up during the week? Where was Richie McCaw in his helicopter during the week drying out the soaking ground? Where were the Crusaders doing a pre-game public signing session? There was no hype. There is too much rugby.

I love the Crusaders and have been to all the big games - the fog Super 14 final of 2006, the Auckland Canterbury Ranfurly Shield challenge, the 'Match of the Century' of 1985. Big rugby games were an event for the whole city and everyone wanted to go and show their support. Not now. 

Fast forward 10 years and things have changed. There are too many teams. The players are invisible in their communities.  Everyone is ditching their Sky decoder - Kiwis are falling out of love with rugby. 

The Lions Tour was the exception. It captured everyone's imagination and was the highlight of the 2017 rugby calendar. It was a true contest. It was filled with superstars. The series was short and quick and we fell back in love with the game.  

The Super Rugby competition has dragged on over seven months. It's an unfair competition. It has way too many teams. The perception is all New Zealand Rugby cares about is making money and not looking after the fans. 

Can you believe we still have more rugby coming up against the same old test teams, Australia and South Africa? I am not excited about it. It's going to drag out over the next three months, by which time spring will have arrived and by then all I will be looking forward to is going to the beach - not watching rugby.

Last night's crowd wasn't helped by the wet cold winter we have had in Christchurch. At half time the temperature was -0.9 degrees and the MetService said it felt like minus three. It was not a game, ground or cold night to take my young children to. 

I am proud of the Crusaders and their success. Yes it is time a new for a new stadium that is covered and in the centre of the city. It's also time to put the fans first, cut back the games and get us to fall back in love with rugby again. 

Hamish Clark is a Newshub reporter and presenter.

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