Twickenham rings a little hollow
April 28, 2014
A poor backdrop for an emphatic Saracens win © Getty Images
As the dust settles on Saracens' comprehensive Heineken Cup win over Clermont, the banks of empty seats at Twickenham highlighted a problem entirely of the RFU's making.
The Times pointed out the responsibility for holding the match at the 80,000-capacity ground where only 25,000 tickets were sold rests with the RFU. Labelling the situation a "farce", the paper said it replicated the mess in 2013 "and organisers should have avoided the stadium at all costs and taken the game to a smaller venue. The RFU, however, were keen to play the game at its home ground, hardly surprising given that they received the ground-hire fee. Saracens were happy to play at Twickenham too. The competition organiser, ERC, had reservations but did not fight strongly enough."
Gavin Mears in the Daily Telegraph was equally unforgiving, lamenting that "such a breathtaking performance, and historic achievement, surely demanded more witnesses". He said the RFU wanted to keep the £150,000 hire fee rather than pay out for another ground despite ERC concerns. "The lowest ticket price was halved to £15 but it had no impact on increasing last season's attendance. The reality is that the three week window to sell the game still remains a tough one for the Premiership clubs."
Eddie Butler in the Observer said "Twickenham rang a little hollow … it would have been a fine crowd at the Madejski in Reading, but in the mother ship it was barely a crew. A stadium two-thirds empty with a French team way below their best smacked of the need for reform. Which is to be delivered next season. This was not a good day for ERC who are being taken - dragged - to the window."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown