Tuesday 19 February 2019

'People are going in and out constantly with pints' - Aviva atmosphere comes in for criticism after England loss

'It shouldn't take the All Blacks coming to town for the Aviva to have a really good atmosphere'

The atmosphere at the Aviva Stadium last weekend has come in for criticism. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
The atmosphere at the Aviva Stadium last weekend has come in for criticism. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The Irish team are coming in for scrutiny this week after a disappointing defeat to England in the Six Nations opener - and the atmosphere at the Aviva Stadium is another aspect of Saturday's loss that has been questioned.

Irish Independent columnist Billy Keane said that the Irish players deserved better than the sections of empty seats that greeted them as they took to the pitch, with a number of fans making it in just in time for kick off or even just after.

Read more: Billy Keane: 'Ten minutes before kick off and the Aviva was almost empty - the Irish players deserve better than that'

This lateness - and England's dominant performance - contributed to a fairly subdued atmosphere at a stadium that was hopping during the memorable win over the All Blacks last November.

On this week's episode of the Left Wing, Luke Fitzgerald, Will Slattery and Irish Independent rugby reporter Cian Tracey discussed the atmosphere at the Aviva, and questioned why it wasn't as electric last Saturday as it had been against the world champions.

"It shouldn't take the All Blacks coming to town for the Aviva to have a really good atmosphere, " Tracey said.

"This game was massive. A Six Nations opener, starting your Grand Slam defence against England. What more motivation do you need? It was so noticeable coming up to kick off that there were so many empty seats.

"It's easy for me to say because I'm the press box but I remember going to matches when I was younger, I wanted to get in there early to soak it up.

"Even from the press box you can see that people are going in and out constantly with pints. Everyone should enjoy themselves at a game but how annoying is it to be sitting next to someone who is in and out every two seconds. It is a theme with the Aviva. I think you can count on one hand the amount of times in the last ten years that there has been a cracking atmosphere."

Luke Fitzgerald agreed that the atmosphere last Saturday was 'flat' - but added that when he was playing for Ireland, it never mattered to him what the crowd was like.

"I have a weird view on this one - if a crowd were roaring for me or not, it never really mattered to me," Fitzgerald said.

"I spent a lot of my career away from the action on the wing. I think the crowd can be a huge lift for the pack when they are knackered. That can give you a lift. Out wide, you are trying to stay calm. I was always kind of disconnected [from the atmosphere]. It never mattered that much to me whether there were people roaring.

"I though it was flat [last weekend]. I thought England managed it really well. I think it was a tactic. Jerome Garces was trying to get the lads in for every lineout and it looked like they wanted to slow it down."

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