The last week has certainly been an interesting one in Welsh rugby. Of course the main reason for that has been talk of takeover at Cardiff Blues, with the Welsh Rugby Union possibly taking on a full-time role at the region, however for me there has been a real eye opener just to the side of this largely social media based circus.
From the Monday night shareholder’s AGM, through Peter Thomas’ bizarre interview with WalesOnline, the WRU absolute denial of his comments and then the online fallout there has been complete radio silence from the Cardiff Blues through official channels.
Some people have had meetings with the powers that be that have further contradicted both Thomas and the WRU, supporter groups will officially meet with the WRU this week, but for the regular run of the mill fan there has been absolutely no clarification on what is going on behind the scenes at the Arms Park.
That, quite frankly, is a disgraceful way to treat your supporters.
Now, it’s been obvious to me for quite some time that I am not respected as a rugby fan by the powers that be. Take the Pro12 for instance, who have had us kick-off at, at least, 10 different times across three days this season.
Add to that they only confirmed some games four weeks before the fixtures were played and it’s evident that the league sees supporters as an after thought. People often have plans to make in advance, while the kick-off times are rarely suitable for families or working people, ruling out a large chunk of potential supporters.
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) who run the Champions and Challenge Cups are not much better, waiting until after round four of the pool games to be completed the week before Christmas to confirm games in rounds five and six in the middle of January.
Then just this week they decided to wait six days before confirming the end of season Champions Cup play-offs. There was only two games to organise, but they were too focused on their flashy finals to treat fans of particularly Cardiff Blues and Connacht with any respect. A week to organise days off work and trips aboard is unacceptable.
It seems there’s a distinct lack of acknowledgement of us hardy souls who do turn up week in, week out. I can tell you now, there has been no reason to attend over the last five to six years, other than an undying love of the team. Cardiff Blues have been poor, the Pro12 is not a good league generally, and the Challenge Cup is very much treated as the second rate European competition, as having to go to Bath on a Thursday night proved.
Still we’re there though, spending hard earned cash and cheering on the team in all weathers. In fairness to the coaches and players themselves they do make you feel appreciated through comments and actions, but it needs to be recognised that we are fans for more than just 80 minutes on a weekend. We all have a vested interest in Cardiff Blues.
This summer will no doubt be a long one of rumour, change, upheaval and interference. There is no doubt some people, mainly WRU-based, are all focused on attracting new supporters, but to forget about those of us already there would be a mistake. Keeping us informed should be the first thing on the agenda after every decision is taken.
I don’t want a medal, or a free beer, or anything material for my support, I just don’t want to feel like I’m being taken for granted.
Cardiff Blues fans deserve better than that from the region, from the WRU and from competition organisers.