What is acceptable behaviour at a rugby game?

Well that was great! I could not have been happier after the final whistle went on Saturday. Bristol are a very good team, who were unlucky not to turn over Exeter last weekend, and they had a very strong twenty three on show on Saturday. Wasps by contrast, were on a horrible run of form and mixed performances, and were down to the bare bones selection wise. By 3pm though, Wasps had a bonus point win, found a genuine wing option in Ross Neal, and had scored four really good tries. Real grit was shown throughout, and Wasps undoubtedly were the better team on the day and deserved the victory. Happy days.

I want to share something that happened off the pitch though, and get some views on a little incident the family and I had. I have got two children, aged nine and six, and am very lucky to have ten nieces and nephews, most of whom have made it to the Ricoh at some point. This Saturday we took our two eldest nieces, who are twelve. I love the fact that Wasps promotes the family day out, with tickets free for under tens, tickets for juniors heavily discounted, and that there is always plenty to do in the fan village before the game. I think the players are brilliant with the kids as well, (example above before the Bath game) which only adds to the experience. I feel lucky that I can share my interest in rugby with my family, (and grow theirs) without worrying about exposing them to the more confrontational atmosphere that you can experience at some football games, by comparison.

Anyway, we were in the North Stand enjoying the match and there was a group of six to the side of us, aged early twenties at a guess. Quite possibly Bristol University students, who were enjoying a few beers during the match. No issue with that. What I did take issue with though was whilst the James Gaskell try was being reviewed, one of the group stood up, and at the top of his voice screamed ‘get a f**king grip’, amongst other expletives. He was wearing a football shirt. My wife got there first, requesting he take into account there was children around. Much chuntering followed on his part, which prompted myself to stroll over to him twice in the space of a minute, where I advised him relatively firmly on my views on the matter, and my feelings about his response to my other half. To be honest, I was raging, and found his lack of remorse about it the most infuriating part, it really made my blood boil. Most of his friends seemed pretty embarrassed, and in fairness to them, one gestured me over at the end of the game to apologise, as did the lad in question. Kind of. He clearly had had a few beers.

What was interesting though was his view once challenged and asked to to refrain from swearing: “you shouldn’t bring kids to a f*****g sports venue then”. I have been reflecting on this, and my wife and I discussed it at length on the drive back. Did he have a point? The words he used are not words which (sadly) my children won’t have heard before on the playground, they are not particularly naive kids. However, I like to think culturally rugby is better than that though, in terms of his argument. I think it is brilliant that you can have a couple of beers whilst watching the match, sit next to an opposition supporter and discuss the game, take your kids and not worry about them hearing too many things they shouldn’t. As part of this experience then, surely you should have some appreciation of who is sitting around you before you open your mouth? Given watching rugby is a fairly civilised affair, should we not act in a civilised way?

It did not spoil the game, and our day finished with a quick catch up with the Piutau brothers, and we left on a real high (apologies for the slightly blurred picture above!).

I am interested though, what do people think about this? Did the lad have a point? He paid his money, should he be able to say what he wants without challenge? I know my views, but as my wife will often tell me, I am often not right!

Thanks for reading, safe travels to all those going to Saracens next weekend.

28 comments

  1. In my opinion he was completely in the wrong. Too many people think they can say what they want, when they want. However it shows lack of class, manners and respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with you completely. I’ve been taking my grandson (Now 12) since Wasps moved to the Ricoh. I wouldn’t tolerate poor behaviour from anybody of any age, nor would the regulars who sit near to us. Thankfully, we’ve not experienced anything like this, far from it, we’ve always had good banter with away supporters. Maybe the individual is more used to going to soccer games, however, that doesn’t excuse him. This isn’t the behaviour I want at a rugby game and you definitely did the right thing in speaking with him and letting him know how you felt.

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  3. Had exactly the same experience with some saints fans a couple of seasons ago…these however were middle aged men who f**’d all the way through the match. I didn’t say anything during the match as didn’t want any backlash..but at the end I did turn and say “I wish I could say it was a pleasure but really it wasn’t, completely unacceptable behaviour with young kids (4 and 7) right in front of them”
    If I faced it again..I’d definitely challenge at the time

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  4. I’m no shining example in the use of the English language minus expletives especially when exited but as someone brought up not dragged up I know when it isn’t acceptable to use profanity and display a boorish attitude to those around me! And when your behaviour /language impacts negatively on those around you it’s time to wind your neck in! 😊

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  5. Another good post – thank you.
    His language was not acceptable, understandable perhaps in the heat of a moment but he should have offered a contrite apology. Keep challenging otherwise it will become accepted.

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  6. I am complete agreement, you should always be able to take children. In mind mind it is all about respect for any and everyone. Had it been me, I hope I would apologize and try not to repeat.

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  7. Totally unacceptable, obviously not rugby family. My family group consist of me a pensioner, through all ages to my Grandson aged 5, we don’t have a teenager but all other bases covered they to the 70’s. We have ST’s in block 30 in the North stand. I have to say around us profanity is not tolerated and usually a word is sufficient, failing this we also have a supportive steward who will step in, in the full knowledge he has the support of the ‘real’ supporters around us.

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    • Thanks Paul. Think the stewards do a great job. Brilliant that so many of you get to enjoy the game together. Hope you enjoyed the game on Sat.

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  8. Started taking my two children to rugby matches when Wasps came to Coventry. They’d played since they were 5 (are now 11 and 13.
    Previously we’d been season ticket holders at Birmingham City with tickets in the family stand – I can’t say the behaviour and language was particularly good even there however.
    We decided not to renew, so had a few weeks off the football before going again. This time we were in one of the general stands. Half way through the game, my children were asking not to come again because they didn’t like the swearing and outright hatred of the fans around us.
    We haven’t been back since as a family.
    I’m with you on this – even if the culprits didn’t think about what they were saying until it was pointed out to them, they could at least apologise and “try harder next time”

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  9. I don’t have an issue with foul language at all, that said however there is a way in which to use it. I have used it myself when at games at decisions that I think are wrong etc. Difference is I mutter under my breath and do not shout it out for the everyone around to hear. I get that when decisions go against what someone thinks, after a few pints it can be difficult not to just to burst out with profanity, however if you can’t control this, then don’t drink as much. Rugby is not football. The culture is not the same. I have friends who have taken their kids to Wasps games and said that they would rather do this then take them to football games and be exposed to foul and abusive language. Perhaps the time has come to dedicate specific section of the ground as family areas.

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    • Thanks. Would hate to see rugby going down the family area route. Think the whole ground should be open to all. You are spot on about the language point. All about when and how to use it. Timing is everything!

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      • I would hate for family specific areas to come about too but believe that if there are more instances as you mentioned occurring can see it possibly happening. Rugby is about including everyone and not having to do this. The problem can be dealt with by stewards though to prevent it from happening.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I too was in the North Stand and although I did not hear this issue I was surprised at the loud and at times expletive ridden shouts coming from the disabled area (one person in particular). I fully understand the emotions that can run high especially in game where things are tight but I too would expect a rugby crowd to show a little more decorum. Sadly rugby crowds are changing and this made very public by the total lack of respect shown to visiting sides at Twickenham especially the ABs.

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  11. I take my grandson to Bristol Rugby, and I agree that the bad language is not acceptable. He doesn’t seem to care, but I find it embarrassing, and maybe stewards should be able to warn the more regular swearing fans. I can’t say I never use bad language at a game – but certainly not as freely as some, and I’m sorry that it appears to have been Bristol fans who upset this family. We have a stand at Bristol which can only be used if you have an under 12 kid in your group, which maybe a (partial) answer

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  12. Totally agree with you…. & I’m a Bristol fan. It is a problem that appears to be creeping in at rugby these days. Whilst I’m no angel it appears to me that bad language is becoming more socially acceptable. As a father to a toddler, it’s not a good thing.

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  13. I’m a Bristol supporter too and think it’s unacceptable.
    We had the same problem at the Saracens Bristol game when we took our 5yo to the game.
    A row of Saracens fans behind us started effing and blinding from the kick off and I had to turn around and tell them that I had a 5yo with me and I think they might like to turn the obscenities off.
    To be honest, even though they were clearly under the influence and although they did turn it down in the first half… I’m not utterly convinced they don’t spend every day peppering their spoken sentences with multiple expletives. I know that may make me sound like a snob. I don’t care.

    At half time I watched them disappear back to the bar and thankfully they didn’t come back.

    I’d also hate rugby to go down a “family area” route… but if some fans can’t handle their drink and or can’t tone down their unnecessary obscene language and stewards don’t want to get involved… then the family area it is for me and my family.

    A shame.

    Like

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