Attending live games, North vs South, North vs South, Rugby, Rugby History, Super Rugby, Uncategorized

Super Rugby Fans Diasappear

Super Rugby is a competition that has been through many changes over its lifetime. The competition has been through phases of growth and phases of downsizing, as the organizers search for the winning formula. It has always been a competition that has never stopped giving the fans a thrill. An evening at the rugby for the most part always delivers the fans with some great entertainment. In recent years stadiums have emptied and fans aren’t coming to watch the live event anymore. Why is this the case and has this been caused by the ever changing format, which has meant less touring time and overall a lower amount of international derby games. There are so many things to analyse and understand. In this post I look at the data surrounding the demise of Super Rugby fans and try and look for what could be causing this demise.

Super Rugby has undergone 4 changes in the past 22 years, which have led to a great expansion of the competition. The changes have meant that Super Rugby is now played in Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa. The competition has now reached a stage where the organizers need to fine tune the product that it is giving the consumer. The competition’s up sizing and introducing of more teams from around the world meant that the format, which made it such a great brand to watch was lost. The conference system has had much criticism from fans and pundits alike. Radio New Zealand senior journalist Ben Strang shared his thoughts on the situation saying, “I think as long as TV rules over the scheduling of Super Rugby matches, crowds will continue to struggle.”

The above picture tells the story of how Super Rugby has changed through the years, but what effect has this actually had on the overall attendance of live games across South Africa? The data shows that between 2010 and 2018 the attendance at games in South Africa decreased by 60%. By looking at the timeline above this decrease began when the conference system was adopted. By putting two and two together is it possible to come to an understanding that the conference system is not a brand of Super Rugby that fans enjoy. This could be the reason that Super Rugby has announced that it will be moving back to the round robin format and switching back to 14 teams effective as of 2021.

Factors that have also influenced Super Rugby crowd attendance have also been economics. As the years have gone by the ticket prices have increased and an evening out is just not that affordable for the average person or family to go an attend. Stephen Kisbey-Green former sports editor of the Grocott’s Mail had this to say about the matter, “It’s difficult, because there are a lot of people that would like to go to the games, but the ticket prices and cost of getting to stadiums are just too expensive for them.” Stephen offers a solution to the matter saying, “Going back to the cost, I feel that stadiums are taking advantage of a “captive audience” market, meaning that they can up the cost of beer, cold drinks, and snacks to an almost exorbitant rate. If they made packages for games more cost effective, and introduced a tier system of fees, that might help the struggling rugby fan to afford the event.” Franchises still need to make money, but without the fans there would be no competition.

As an avid fan of rugby Super Rugby is something that I think has to be fixed if Southern Hemisphere teams are ever going to compete with Northern Hemisphere teams for the best players in the world. The lure of Northern money has become a big problem when it comes to retaining the best players in Super Rugby who get offered big contracts to play in Northern Hemisphere leagues such as the Premiership Rugby in the UK and French Top 14. The consequence of this drain of players also means that less fans are tuning in or going to the stadiums as all the stars are not present on the field anymore. If Super Rugby becomes the competition it once was sponsors will once again flock to the competition and teams will be able to retain the players, which will mean that the interest of fans will grow again.

Attending live games, Japan, Passions, Rugby, Rugby History, Rugby World Cup, The History of Japanese Rugby, Top League, Travel, TRAVELLING JAPAN, University Rugby

Rugby in Japan?

The rugby world knows little about Japanese rugby and how popular the sport is in the land of the rising sun. When you think about rugby, Japan doesn’t necessarily come to mind. However, contrary to this bias, the host nation of this year’s 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) has a rich rugby history. This years RWC is being played in Asia for the first time, which is very exciting for world rugby. In this post I explore the origins of rugby in Japan as well as the rugby structures present in the country.

Host Country/ContinentYear
New Zealand & Australia1987
Europe1991
South Africa1995
Wales 1999
Australia 2003
France 2007
New Zealand 2011
England 2015
Japan2019
France 2023

Figure 1: showing host nations and years of rugby world cups.

Created by Joshua Parsons.

The history of rugby in Japan

Rugby was first played in Japan in 1866, when the first Rugby Club in Japan was founded called the Yokohama Foot Ball Club. Rugby was played in Japan before big rugby playing nations such as France, New Zealand and South Africa. The only other places with a longer history are Australia and The British Isles. The Yokohama Foot Ball Club was the first ever Asian rugby club. The establishment of Yokohama Foot Ball Club came about due to over a thousand British troops who were stationed in the area. Many had played Rugby at school in England. The large number of troops made it easy to play as back in those days 40 players were needed to play a game. This was the foundation of rugby in Japan and is also the untold history of how the game started in the land of the rising son.

Scene of a rugby game in Japan.
Source: Harper’s 1874, Illustrator unknown

The father of Japanese rugby

The Japanese began playing rugby at Keio University in 1899. Ginnosuke Tanaka and Edward Bramwell Clarke introduced the great game to the men of classes they taught at the University. The University played their first official game in 1901 against expatriates of the Yokohama County Athletics  team. The team established fixtures against other clubs and soon the sport grew in Universities. This lead to the first inter-university game being played between Doshisha and Waseda Universities in 1923. The early 1920’s saw rugby grow rapidly in Japan, having over 60 000 players and 1 500 clubs. Tanaka is now remembered as ‘the father of Japanese rugby’. The birth of rugby in the land of the rising son led to the first ever Japanese tour in 1930. The national team traveled to Canada and had great success winning 6 games and losing 1. The ‘Brave Blossoms’ have participated in every RWC since its inception in 1987.

A picture of Ginnosuke Tanaka
Source: Wikimedia Commons

How popular is rugby in Japan today?

Japan is the fourth biggest rugby playing nation in the world with a population of 122 872 rugby players as well as having 3 631 official clubs. The national side nicknamed The Cherry Blossoms or The Brave Blossoms are ranked 11th in world rugby. Although rugby is only the 5th most popular sport in Japan they have a competitive domestic league called Top League. Top League draws players from many strong rugby nations. There are well known players such as Daniel Carter and Matt Giteau who have had stints playing in Japan.

Vlog by The Imbiber published on YouTube

University rugby in Japan

Rugby is popular at Universities around Japan, which participate in The All-Japan University Rugby Football Championship. The championship kicked off in 1964 and currently there are currently 16 universities competing. The most successful University in the competition is Waseda University who have won 15 Championships. The final is usually well attended having close 40 000 spectators as of 2005. The University rugby culture in Japan is very competitive. University teams often play against professional teams, however there is a gulf in class between the two levels.

Video published by World Rugby on YouTube

Why will the RWC be special?

Japan is an exciting new frontier for world rugby fans as all the world cups to date have been hosted by top tier nations of rugby. This new frontier could open a new dimension and will help grow the game in Asia. The expansion of rugby into this new realm, which most orthodox rugby supporters know very little about is one of general excitement. A ticket to Japan will be a prized possession come 20 September 2019.

Attending live games, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, Travel

6 tips for a good day at the game

I have been to many rugby games and I have learnt the hard way about things to do and things not to do on game day. I am writing this post to help you have the most enjoyable day possible at the game. Big events like world cups are usually very efficient and well organised, but it is still good to be prepared for any eventuality that may occur. Watching test match and professional rugby is something special and something that I hold very dear to my heart. So the first rule must definitely be fun. Here are the 6 tips I have for a good day at the game.

Cape Town Stadium panorama
Photo by warrenski

1. Get there early

Most big games draw crowds that are upwards of 60 000 people, which can mean large queues. If you want to stand in a queue for 30 minutes and rush to get to your seat without any food or beverages be my guest. For me however that is not enjoyable. When you get to the stadium early you get to meet your fellow supporters, and take in the atmosphere that attending a professional or international test match brings. There are often match build ups that begin ad least an hour in advance that get you in the mood for the game. This will also give you time to locate the nearest bar and toilet.

Avoid long queues
Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash

2. Get the best tickets possible

Your enjoyment can also come down to where you are sitting in the stadium, although you can enjoy the game from anywhere in the stadium there are certain seats that are better for viewing the game than others. My perfect seat would be midway up and as close to the halfway line as possible. This seat will give you the best view of the action as possible. If the game is going on during the day you may also want to figure out where the shade will be and try and get a seat in the shade. Sitting in the sun can really drain your energy.

An old ticket from 1969, Wellington, New Zealand
Photograph by Phillip Capper

3. Organize transport for before and after

Going to rugby games sometimes involve drinking beer and having a good time with your friends and fellow fans. Having to worry about driving yourself to and from the stadium can limit your enjoyment of the game. This is why if you are able to afford it you may want to Uber or take a taxi to and from the stadium. Depending on where the game is you may be able to get public transport. Another more affordable option is to get a large group of people together and split a bus or mini bus. They don’t have to be people you know and you can easily find people with today’s social media. Having a large group is probably the most affordable option. Create a check point and a time that you want to meat before and after. Using this method will mean you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving and you don’t have to worry about finding parking.

A limousine
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 

4. Dress appropriately

I know this is probably an obvious one, but you need to wear the right clothes for the conditions. Check the weather for the time of the game and see if it is going to change and get colder or warmer. If it is going to get colder during the day you should definitely bring something warm. Make sure that it is easy to carry and maybe put it in a back pack as carrying a large jacket or jumper around could quite possibly limit you and ruin your day. Jeans are always a good option especially if you are going to be wearing a supporters jersey. The bottom line is if you are too hot or too cold, your experience of the day will be ruined as you won’t be able to enjoy yourself.

6 BIGGEST Style Mistakes Sports Fans Make!
Video published by alpha m.

5. Go with a friend

Going to a big game alone can be intimidating, having a mate with you will most definitely enhance your experience. Shared experiences help you grow closer to people so maybe this is your chance to take your boyfriend or girlfriend as a nice gift. Maybe you want want to reconnect with a relative or friend. A ticket or day at the game can be the perfect birthday gift and a memory that someone will cherish for the rest of their life. However on the off chance that you aren’t able to go with a friend, be sure to make friends with the people sitting around you. A good way to ensure that you always have someone to watch the game with is by joining the supporters club of the team you support. I went to the RWC 2015 semi-final on my own and made friends with the guy sitting next to me and we ended up having a jolly old time. Make the best of your situation.

A picture from the Fifa World Cup 2010
Photograph by Celso FLORES 

6. Don’t take your eyes off the game

In rugby the game can move so quickly and if you blink you may miss some amazing skill or a great line break or try. In order to not be left in the dark make sure that you don’t take your eyes off the game. A good tool to have whilst at a game is a pair of binoculars. This means that you can follow the game more closely especially if you are up on the top row of the stadium. A good tip to not take your eyes off the game is to get there early and make sure you use the toilet well in advance. If you want to drink and eat during the game then also make sure that you maybe buy two beers per half so that if one finishes ad least you don’t have to miss any of the action by getting up to get more beer. This will mean you don’t get left out and you can enjoy every moment of the amazing game we call rugby.

Best moments of the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England
Video published by RugbyVidsOfficial

Have fun and enjoy

Follow these simple steps and plan out your day the day before in order to maximize your enjoyment. Once you have an easy to follow plan and follow this simple formula your enjoyment will sky rocket. The key to the success of a day is planning exactly what you want to do. One last tip is to go to a game with no expectations and no preconceived idea of what the day is going to be like. Usually your expectations are let down, so rather go there with an open mind and take in each moment. This will most definitely see you have a greater level of enjoyment. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Attending live games, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, TRAVELLING JAPAN

Must Watch Pool Games

Rugby World Cup 2019 (RWC 2019) kicks off on Friday 20 September in Tokyo. This is a tournament that only comes around every 4 years and never disappoints. The pool stages have a few treats lined up for the fans with some epic encounters that will be sure to have you on the edge of your seat. If you are travelling to Japan, and wondering what games you need to go and watch, don’t worry as I’ve got you covered. This post looks at the Rugby World Cup games that cannot be missed.

@rugbyworldcup Twitter feed

France vs Argentina, 21 September

Figure showing win percentages for Argentina vs France
Created by Joshua Parsons

This game sees 8th ranked France take on 10th ranked side Argentina on 21 September. This is a must win game in pool C “the pool of death”. With England expected to take the top position in the pool, it looks like these two sides are fighting it out for second spot in the pool. This makes for an exciting must win game for both sides. The two sides have previously met 51 times with France winning 36 and Argentina wining 14, with just one draw. Their most recent encounter in November 2018 saw Les Bleus taking the spoils on the day 28-13. This is not a match you want to miss. These two sides need the maximum points to kick start their tournament in the first game. 

Corleto on his way to the try. France – Argentina. Rugby world cup 2007 at the Stade de France in Paris
Photograph by  Fabien Dany – www.fabiendany.com / www.datka.kg

The Pool of Death Explained

The pool of death is a pool that contains 3 or more top tier nations, which means that these teams can contend for the top position in the pool. At every rugby world cup there has to be one of these pools due to the number of top quality teams in the rugby world cup. This year pool C can be labelled the pool of death due to the fact that England, France and Argentina are all in this pool. The pool also contains two wild card teams being the USA and Tonga who both have the ability to cause an upset against the three bigger rugby nations. This makes this Pool and extremely difficult one to call and this will also mean that one big rugby nation will miss out on a rugby world cup quarter final. This will definitely be a big talking point. For us fans though this is going to give us a great deal of entertainment.

This video explains pool C the pool of death
Video by TheScottishcannon – #1 Rugby & Gaming Channel


New Zealand vs South Africa, 21 September

Figure showing win percentages for New Zealand vs South Africa
Created by Joshua Parsons

This pool B encounter looks to be mouth watering. A meeting between the number one ranked side and the fifth placed side in the world. The last time these two teams met in a RWC New Zealand edged South Africa 20-18 at Twickenham in the 2015 RWC semi-final. 2018 saw South Africa beat New Zealand in Wellington by 1 point and New Zealand returned the favor by beating South Africa at Loftus by 2 points. The rivalry dates back to 1921 and the sides have faced each other 97 times since then. New Zealand have won 58 times and South Africa just 36 with 3 matches ending in a draw. This encounter will be one for the history books and will surely be the pool B decider.

ESPN Classic looking at arguably the greatest rugby duel, the All Blacks v Springboks
Video by official777

Ireland vs Scotland, 22 September

Figure showing win percentages for Ireland vs Scotland
Created by Joshua Parsons

This clash looks like it could decide who tops pool A. Ireland who are ranked 3rd in the world will be favorites going into the clash. However Scotland have shown some great fighting spirit leading up to the world cup and won’t let their 7th place world ranking mean anything. There is a lot of history between these arch rivals having played each other 135 times. Ireland having won 63 and Scotland having won 67 of these games. Looking at the recent form of these two teams this looks to be a game you don’t want to miss.

Scotland vs Ireland scrum at Edinburgh during the 2007 Six Nations Championship
Photograph by Conor Lawless https://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=420003710&size=l

Argentina vs England, 5 October

Figure showing win percentages for Argentina vs England
Created by Joshua Parsons

This pool C clash in the pool of death looks to be one for the record books and is a must win game for both sides if they are to progress to the next stage of the tournament. England who are real contenders to take the world cup will take on an Argentinian side that always seems to peak during a RWC year. History indicates that England should have the upper hand winning 18 of the 23 games played between the two sides. Either way this game should be full of physicality and running rugby, looking at the way both sides have looked to play in recent years.

England v Argentina 2006
Photograph by Patrick K

England vs France, 12 October

Figure showing win percentages for France vs England
Created by Joshua Parsons

This pool of death encounter may decide who tops pool C. there will be no love lost when these two power houses of world rugby clash horns on Saturday 12 October. Looking at recent form England look favorites to take this one, however one should never write off France especially in a world cup year. In the 105 games these two teams have played against each other England have taken 58 and France have taken 40, with 7 games ending in a stale mate. The last time these two sides played England walked away 44-8 victors. This game is a must win game for both sides if either one of them want to go to the play offs.

 Rugby World Cup 2015 Warm-up France-England, Stade de France
Photograph by Eponimm
about me, Attending live games, Passions, Rugby, Travel, Uncategorized

Joshua Parsons #MrRhodesRugby

My name is Joshua Parsons I am currently in my fourth year of studies in Digital Media at Rhodes University. I have been playing rugby since I could walk and over the years I have developed a deep passion for the game. This passion led me to try out for the rugby team at University, and whilst in my third year I was given the opportunity to lead the Rhodes University 1st XV Rugby Side, which I have now done for two consecutive seasons. Through this blog, I have decided to combine my passion for rugby and content creation.

Joshua Parsons
Photograph by Paige Timmer

I was born in Johannesburg and lived there until my parents decided to move Hilton in KZN South Africa. Thinking back to my childhood now, I have very fond memories of playing rugby for hours with my younger brother in the garden, as well as playing on the morning frost with my friends at school. As a player and as a fan, nothing makes me feel more alive than a game of rugby. The game of rugby is special because it is a game that is unforgiving to those who have not prepared well, but very rewarding for those that have made the sacrifice and put in the hard work. This in itself becomes an important metaphor for life.

Nelson Mandela quote about sport.
Graphic created by Joshua Parsons
Photograph by lasanta.com.ec, July 5 2013

For as long as I can remember, sport has been a symbol of togetherness for my family and for the whole of South Africa. This is captured in the way that Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup (RWC) to unite the South African nation helping people put their differences aside. In our country, which is one with a very difficult past for the majority of the population, this is truly inspirational. In my family, and I’m sure many others, major sporting events allow families to come together and celebrate around a braai. I still remember watching the 2007 World Cup Final with my whole family. After that day my dream was always to attend a rugby world cup in whatever capacity I could, be it as a fan or even now I think of attending as a media representative.

Springboks unite a nation: RWC 1995 final
Video by World Rugby

I remember sitting in the stands with my peers and being addressed by greats like Bobby Skinstad and having a close relationship with Dick Muir growing up. The presence of professional rugby players almost knocks me off my feet. It is a truly humbling experience to be in the presence of these greats. I love seeing how these men have devoted their lives to greatness and how they sacrifice so much to play the sport that they love. For me rugby players are the closest thing you can get to real life super hero’s.

My girlfriend and I watching South Africa play Australia at The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, 29 September 2018

In 2015 I had the pleasure of going to watch the World Cup semi-final game between the All Blacks and South Africa. This was something I had dreamed of for years and it was an unreal experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Not just the atmosphere, but also the way the game of rugby brought people from all corners of the globe together to unite. After that 80 minutes the All black supporters were friends and not enemies. Even though there was a rivalry between the two sets of fans there was also an amazing respect for one another.

My ticket to the RWC semi-final between South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham

This ticket is something I hold very dear to my heart and I have kept it ever since that day. This was one of the best experiences of my life and was probably one of the greatest games I have attended. The story behind the ticket is one of hope, because I was in the United Kingdom at the time of the world cup and I really wanted to go and support the Springboks as any passionate fan would. I decided on the day that I would take all the money I had and see if I could buy a ticket outside the stadium and attend the game. My plan B was that I would watch the game in a pub if I could not get a ticket. As soon as I got off the train there was a man who wanted to sell his ticket and it was my lucky day. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and my dream is to attend another World Cup in the near future.

Joshua Parsons leading FNB Rhodes out against CPUT, 18 March 2019 at Rhodes Great Field
Photographed by Mzwanele Sibanda

When I got to University I soon developed a passion for playing rugby. I started playing in the koshuis league, where I was noticed by the 1st XV coach who invited me to come and practice with the 1st side. I then started to feature regularly for the 1st team where I developed a real love for the game and a love for hard work and dedication. In my second year I was made captain of the Rhodes University 1st side that play in the FNB Varsity Shield. In 2019 I captained my team to their first ever victory in the Varsity Shield on national television. The highlights of this game can be seen in the video bellow.

FNB Rhodes vs FNB UFH, Varsity Shield, 21 February 2019
Video published by SuperSport

Through studying journalism and watching rugby I developed a passion for creating content and soon started my own YouTube channel called ParshallProductions. I comment on rugby and also post creative videos and vlogs. My passion is to one day turn this channel into my full time project. My other passions include getting up early, meditating, gym, water sports and many more. I hope that you as a reader enjoy this blog as much as I have enjoyed creating all the content on the blog and hopefully it will help you in some way pursue your passion.

Varsity Shield Rugby Highlights Joshua Parsons Rhodes University
Video by Joshua Parsons