I ventured to the Stoop on Saturday, first away game I had been to with Wasps for a while. Though the result wasn’t what I wanted to see, it was interesting to experience a stadium built for rugby and to be in a ‘full house’. Some reflections below, linked to the Wasps stadium experience.
- Not everyone was there to watch the rugby. I was sitting in the south stand, the end where Wasps attacked in the first half. One thing my party noticed very early on was the number of people there who clearly weren’t that interested in the game. Loads of talking during the conversion / penalty attempts (for both sides), lots of movement to buy drinks / food during the match. At times, it reminded me of my recent experiences over the road at Twickenham, and I embarrassingly had an argument with someone who was on the move whilst the game was very much in full flow. When I go to Wasps I generally sit up in the gods so perhaps am oblivious to this at the CBS, but these situations really p*ss me off!! There’s enough breaks in play in rugby, go to the bar then! Perhaps I’m being grumpy?
- When it’s loud, it’s loud. Their announcer did a great job of getting the crowd fired up. Whether it was announcing a substitution (he gave Jack Willis a great welcome which I thought was a nice touch) or starting off the ‘Mighty Quinn’ song, he was excellent at getting the crowd going. This isn’t a dig at Wasps current announcer but more highlighting that club could do more to get the crowd engaged. I actually had some correspondence with Stephen Vaughan about the absence of the ’Buzz’ when players run out – that’s one of many examples where perhaps more could be done to engage the fans before and during the game to build more crowd participation. I’ve written about this before and I know one of the fans has tried to get this going on twitter – Wasps really could do with a decent chant…..
- Less is more. I was chatting to my brother before the game about the attendance figures at Wasps and how, being honest, the CBS Arena is too big. If you look at attendance figures up and down the country, there’s very few clubs who could get close to filling a stadium of that size consistently. Wasps support is actually quite good and very much in line with other clubs and it is only going to get bigger as results continue to improve and big name players continue to return. However, it’s going to take huge efforts to get enough people through the gates for anything like near capacity. I know that at games where they are only expecting small gates they have only opened two stands in the past and I wonder whether this might be worth experimenting with next season, with three stands open for the big games? Will be busier in the two stands that are open, which in turn will create more of an atmosphere etc. Though I also understand the reduction in free seats, I do actually think they should make exceptions for this at certain games to make it more accessible – with the continued cost of living increase, people are going to be feeling the pinch in the coming months.
- Speed wins games! Quins were missing some big name players like Wasps were and I felt the game simply got away from the men in Coventry in the fifteen minutes that followed the half time break. Biggest difference I noticed was their speed, particularly at the breakdown. I’d be interested to see the average attacking breakdown times of both teams, but I know that when it mattered, Harlequins were much more effective at producing quick ball. Louis Lynagh has also got some serious wheels! Positives for Wasps were, in my view, the lineout, Tom Willis, and the fight shown at the end to grab a losing bonus point. No doubt about it though, Harlequins deserved the victory.
Onto Friday’s game and on paper, Wasps look to have the stronger team, and we may get to see the holy trinity of a Tom Willis, Jack Willis and Alfie Barbeary back row at some point. Bristol are missing a fair few and seem to be having big issues at 9. Wasps away form has been pretty poor this season and Friday presents a great opportunity to put right some of the wrongs of the weekend, and get back up the table again.
Enjoy the game for those who are travelling. Hope to see some of you at the Northampton game next month. Thanks for reading.