Why pro sport needs more afternoon kickoffs

Publish Date
Tuesday, 14 May 2024, 8:04AM

In the heart of Saturday afternoon, under the not-so-radiant sun at Eden Park, rugby fans were treated to an epic showdown between the Blues and Hurricanes. The vibe was electric, the game was intense, and nobody knew who’d clinch it until the final whistle blew.

After the dust settled and the cheers faded, it was clear: daytime rugby is where it’s at.

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu, riding high on the excitement of the game, said afterwards at times the crowd was so loud the players couldn’t hear themselves speak. He nailed it when he said we need more daytime matches.

And he’s right - afternoon rugby isn’t just good for players and fans; it’s what rugby’s all about. It brings folks together to celebrate teamwork, talent, and the love of the game.

Introducing more afternoon matches to Super Rugby not only promises a more enjoyable experience for fans but also addresses several important considerations that have been overlooked for too long.

Take the kids, for example. Bedtime routines often clash with late-night matches, depriving children of the opportunity to witness the sport they love live. By kicking off earlier, we’re making sure the next generation gets in on the fun and keeps the rugby tradition alive and kicking in families.

Furthermore, the quality of rugby itself stands to benefit from afternoon kickoffs. Just look at how the Blues and Hurricanes lit up the field with their fast-paced play. Dry weather means no slippery ball and perfect conditions for some flashy moves.

And let’s not forget the grown-ups. Afternoon matches offer the perfect opportunity for supporters to enjoy a full matchday experience, from pre-game pints with mates to post-match analysis over a refreshing beverage. By wrapping up proceedings earlier, fans can reclaim their evenings for other activities, whether exploring cultural pursuits or simply unwinding with loved ones.

Of course, change doesn’t come without its challenges.

Television broadcasters may grumble at the prospect of adjusted schedules, fearing a dip in viewership, especially when it comes to overseas viewership. Yet, we must ask ourselves: what’s worse, empty stands or slightly altered air times? The answer seems self-evident.

Empty seats in the stadium aren’t doing anyone any favours. A packed house not only makes watching at home more exciting but also shows just how much love there is for the game.

The Blues-Hurricanes clash serves as a compelling case study - a testament to the magic that unfolds when rugby takes centre stage in the afternoon sun. The pulsating action, the unwavering support, and the sheer joy of competition - all of these elements combine to create an unforgettable experience, one that leaves an indelible mark on players and fans alike.

So let’s make daytime rugby the norm because rugby’s future looks bright and full of promise in the glow of a Saturday afternoon.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission


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