Saturday 10 December 2016

Jim Glennon: Shambles a slap in face for travelling fans

French arrogance and English ineptitude leads to huge blunder, writes Jim Glennon

Published 12/02/2012 | 05:00

What a shambles. An unprecedented combination of French arrogance in administration and English ineptitude in match officiating provided a real slap in the face for the thousands of travelling Irish -- and then they had the brass neck to remind them that their tickets would be valid for the refixed date.

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It is a rule of most competitions in sports across the globe that the right to home advantage brings with it a responsibility to provide a venue that is viable for participants and spectators alike. The French blatantly failed in their responsibility last night.

Their lapse was compounded by the failure of that dynamic duo of English officials, Dave Pearson and Wayne Barnes, who had so endeared themselves to the Irish sporting public last week, to play their part as independent arbiters until they were very publicly reminded by the respective team coaches of their roles: Messrs Pearson and Barnes can be assured of a welcome as cold as the Parisian ground whenever their travels take them back to Ireland.

Nor should the demands of television be overlooked, as we have been so subtly reminded by the possible refixing of the game for a Friday night at the same time as arranged for last night.

I referred last week to the staggering of games to suit TV -- if this debacle doesn't show the extent to which the professional game is beholden to the television companies, nothing will.

One of the oldest adages of show business is that, come what may, the show must go on. The revered Five Nations is but a warm and distant memory for an ever-dwindling number of us -- the RBS Six Nations is one of the biggest jewels in the crown of the show business that is professional rugby, and its followers mere paying customers.

The rules of show business dictate that the show will go on, and it will, because we'll all, or most of us at any rate, turn up on the refixed date.

It would be complacent in the extreme on the part of the game's authorities, however, to presume that it will always be so. Our world is changing at a dramatic rate, and the fans and supporters of yesteryear are no more; we are customers now, informed consumers of the rugby product. After last night we are disgruntled customers, whose loyalty has been taken for granted once too often.

The IRFU got the message loud and clear from their customer-base in 2010 over their misguided pricing policy for international tickets, and their reaction demonstrated an appreciation of the realities of modern life. Their colleagues running the Six Nations must do likewise, and with alacrity.

jglennon@independent.ie

Sunday Indo Sport

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