Should the two remaining Scottish Pro teams take a leaf out of Saracens book and take their current pre-season plans further? Should they play a number of their RaboDirect Pro 12 and Heineken Cup home games on the road to reward their fans that aren’t based in the Central Belt? Would it work or would it disenfranchise their season ticket holders?
Let me go back a step to last season when I got into a conversation on Twitter about how successful a Pro Team would be in Aberdeen, about the same time as the Tonga match at Pittodrie. The general consensus seemed that it could work but that cost of set up and a venue would more than likely make it impractical. Time passed and I sort of forgot this conversation or at least it was pushed to the back of my mind.
However the spark of the idea has been re-ignited by Glasgow Warriors training and partaking in a practice match against Aberdeen Grammar Rugby at Rubislaw in Aberdeen and Edinburgh playing their pre-season match against Newcastle in the Borders. But now the germ of the idea had morphed slightly: how practical would it be for the Pro sides to play their league and European games on the road in Scotland? So this raises a number of questions and I will use Glasgow Warriors as the benchmark, as they are travelling far further.
In the case of most things now it all comes down to numbers. How much will this visit cost both clubs? Will there be capacity problems? How many Grammar fans will turn out? How many fans from Glasgow will travel north? How many from outside of Aberdeen will take advantage of not having to travel to Glasgow to see their team? Or in fact how many northern rugby fans will take advantage of being able to see a Pro team in their back yard? I know I will and I would class my self as an Edinburgh fan.
I was disappointed to see comments on social media from some Glasgow fans complaining about not being able to see their team during pre-season because they were playing in Ayr & Aberdeen. I did the one thing you really should not and tweeted about this when my dander was up however I got a response of similar feeling.
It appears that there are a number of rugby fans from outside of the Central Belt who spend a lot of money and time to follow their ‘local’ clubs. Some have picked between the Pro sides either for geographical reasons or feeder clubs. I am a little more partisan I and I go for the love of the game. (Pass the bucket I think I have made myself sick). I have over the last few seasons been to Murrayfield, Scotstoun, Pittodrie, Kingsholm, the RDS, Ravenhill, the Rec, Landsdowne Rd, Twickenham and Kingston Park to watch top-flight rugby. This month I will be going to Rubislaw and Sandy Park for some more. I know from seeing other fans that I am not alone in doing this; but very rarely do I see families of fans travelling unless it’s a major fixture.
If I, and others, are willing to spend time and money to travel across Europe following rugby and our clubs then surely we can ask the clubs to, where plausible, do the same for us? And as I have mentioned feeder clubs could they not host the games as the Grammar are? It could also introduce new fans or potential players to these clubs and that cannot be bad thing. This must surely be good idea for grassroots rugby?
Would nomadic Pro sides garner more support or lose some of their loyal home fan base? Maybe we should ask a Fez Head? And if it was not financially beneficial would Saracens amongst others continually use this approach to bring rugby new audiences?
How far do you go to support your team?