In years past, my wife and I were avid attendees of all the Force games, holding high-level membership status. We joyfully flew to Brisbane and Sydney to witness the Wallabies compete against the All Blacks or South Africa, journeyed to Hong Kong for the Bledisloe, and even traveled to Twickenham to witness the Poms’ defeat. One memorable night in Brisbane, we returned to our hotel well after the game and a celebratory pub crawl in our gold jerseys. We decided to have one last drink at the bar/lounge and were surprised to find the All Blacks relaxing in the bar after the game.
Feeling self-conscious as the only ones wearing gold in the bar, we were relieved when the entire team was extremely pleasant and even engaged in conversation with us. Despite feeling dwarfed by the enormous size of some of the players, we were thrilled by the experience. We purchased new Western Force Super Rugby jerseys and shirts each year, as well as various Wallabies merchandise, fully immersing ourselves in the sport.
However, our enthusiasm for Rugby has waned. Our disengagement began with the Force. Despite paying significant membership fees for several years and having poor seats, our passion for the team began to fade as we noticed players like Matt Giteau simply going through the motions on the field. This, combined with the lack of player engagement with our son’s rugby club, ultimately led us to abandon the sport. Despite our persistent efforts to encourage our son to pursue rugby, he was drawn to the Eagles due to their consistent outreach to fans and up-and-coming players.
As time passed, we observed the internal politics and struggles within Rugby Australia, prompting us to give up on the sport entirely. Now, we find ourselves avid fans of NFL and College football. We are fully committed to attending live games and purchasing merchandise. We believe that Rugby Australia needs to prioritize connecting with young players at the grassroots level in order to revitalize the sport and recapture disenfranchised fans like us.