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May 14, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Nothin’ But Net – A Beginner’s Guide To Watching Rugby

The nation’s attention span for rugby was, until October last year, quadrennially called into question. By the time the final whistle blew against France, it was clear: we are a country of complete rugby nuts.

But are we doing it right?

New Zealand rugby fans have always seemed to express their adulation or frustration with short, mumbled and more-often-than-not homophobic catch phrases that usually draw attention to how much of a wanker the referee is rather than song or dance.

Rugby is more of a sit-down-and-shut-the-fuck-up sort of atmosphere than the types of crowds we might find at soccer games at the Cake Tin or Twenty20s at the Basin.

Short, to the point. None of these ridiculously long songs which compare Wellington’s weather and the soccer team or conclude that not one single person in the crowd can ‘get enough of Durante’ (God I miss the Phoenix).

But this season, just to shake things up a little, the Hurricanes have bought out their own supporters group – ‘The Flying Squadron’. Much like the Yellow Fever and the Beige Brigade, they go to the games together, sit together, get drunk together and make as much noise as possible together.

Raised by a Scouse man on a diet of Premier League soccer I’m conditioned to think this is a brilliant step forward for the sport. After all, as far as I’m concerned, the closer rugby is to football the better. Further, the closer its fans become to the fine specimen of obese bald man which populate terraces in the UK, the better.

But then, at the Canes last weekend, and I witnessed the Flying Squadron first hand. Ouch.

A quick look at ‘the Squadron’s YouTube video tells you all you need to know. Four minutes of awkward song and dance – featuring the lyrical genius: “Ah, ah, (la x23)” – during which time members of the group do push-ups, cover Alanis Morissette (badly), and misspell the word ‘too’.

The result is an out-of-place and laughable mess of a bunch of blokes who are trying desperately to turn rugby into something it so very clearly isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, good on them for trying to generate a new sort of atmosphere at the Canes. It would be something to keep us occupied as we realise there isn’t a World Cup for another three and a half years.

And I really do hope that the Flying Squadron can maintain our egg-ball fanaticism. But you could tell from the increasingly large band of empty yellow seats surrounding them that the general consensus remains: “sit down and shut the fuck up”.

We’ll have to wait until 2015 for the next big rugby buzz.

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