Leinster travelled to Port Elizabeth to face the Southern Kings, a match which they won 10 – 31.
One homefield advantage that was lacking in Port Elizabeth was the crowd. Not because drastically more Leinster supporters travelled, but because barely anybody was there. Maybe after seeing the Springboks get hammered 57 – 0 against New Zealand they decided they’d had enough rugby for the week. Or maybe nobody knew what type of paperwork they needed to get into the stadium. But it seems the Pro 14 just hasn’t caught on.
It’s only been 3-rounds so it’s too early to write the obituary, but the signs aren’t looking good. There’s long been a problem with a lack of away fans at games. That’s the nature of a league that features teams from 5 different unions, only two of which are on the same landmass. Italy was a stretch, but South Africa really isn’t a weekend trip from an Irish perspective. From a South African perspective, ay non-South African away game isn’t a weekend trip.
So what can we really expect if attendances are dwindling? Well media outlets will start questioning the value of sending reporters from here to South Africa, and vice versa. Which means pundits will be relying on TV coverage and liaisons with local media outlets. This will see a decline in the quality of coverage, which will in turn negatively impact on how the fans get invested. That will lead to further dwindling of attendance. In particular, it will be very hard for casual supporters to get interested in the sport.
It’s too early to see how this will play out, but so far it’s not looking good. Let us know your thoughts on the new season so far.
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Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport). He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.
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