The invention of social media has revolutionised the world in many ways. People can connect with friends and family across the world at the click of a button. News can spread in an instant. Celebrities can be made purely from what videos or statuses they post. The power it holds is incredible.
Not everything related to social media is a positive though. Anyone can see what you’re up to if your security settings aren’t right. Fake news can replace the truth. People can become famous for all the wrong reasons.
There is a point where social media, and Twitter particularly, reaches it’s worst point though, and that is rugby supporters during the off-season.
Summer is a desolate time for many sports fans, and that leads to delirium, which in turn results in two days of arguing about a drum. That is what was endured on Cardiff Blues fans little area of Twitter last week. A perfect summary of how no rugby can effect generally rational people.
Well, as rational as people who have chosen to support Cardiff Blues can be anyway.
Now the time has come to leave that all behind though, as all attention switches to the new season and an exciting few weeks to come. Tomorrow the Guinness Pro14 fixtures will be released, a week Wednesday the new Blues kit will be revealed and the following Saturday pre-season will get underway at London Scottish.
There’s also European Challenge Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup fixtures to be released in that time, an action packed month leading up to the league kick-off on the first weekend in September.
On the Cardiff Rugby Life I’ll be analysing the new signings, and some existing players, having a look at what constitutes a successful season at the Arms Park, and launching the third edition of the Team Report where we look in-depth at this year’s playing squad alongside covering both pre-season games.
All this will be done under an editorial decision to bring some positivity to the website this season, and try to spread it around the Cardiff Blues fan base in general after a fairly miserable summer on the whole.
The financial situation at the club has been well documented, with losses of £1.4m and the understandable reluctance from Peter Thomas and other benefactors to continue to put their hands in their pockets and throw money down the drain that is Welsh club rugby.
With a new stadium in the pipeline giving Thomas and others a chance to recoup some money, they have switched their funding style from improving the team to keeping the club alive.
As a consequence the belts have tightened substantially around the playing budget, with Franco van der Merwe moving on before even arriving in Cardiff and Leigh Halfpenny deciding against a return to CAP, instead opting for a new challenge at the Scarlets.
This, of course, was met with much disappointment amongst fans as the reality of the situation began to hit. It doesn’t make pretty reading, the full picture of just how little money we have to play with, but there is a bigger picture to look at here.
Much of it hinges on the securing of a lease to stay at the Arms Park with development rights. I am confident that an agreement can be reached between the Cardiff Blues and Cardiff Athletic Club soon after negotiations resume next month, and that a positive future can be planned towards with a new multi-use arena and it’s associated income.
Until then there’s going to be three lean years where the budget will need to be managed tightly, major new signings will be at a premium and we could well end up a nomadic side as the ground is redeveloped.
This is the time when the players need our support more than ever.
To somewhat misappropriate a saying, ‘rugby teams are for life, not just for trophies’. Every side will have their up and downs, and for the good times to be appreciated you have to go through the bad ones. All very cliché, all very applicable to our current situation.
The key to the next few years will be to look for positives away from trophies and league positions. What we have ahead of us is a chance to start afresh on the field, leave the last seven years of mediocrity behind, and build a squad based around homegrown players with some serious talent.
Every minute the likes of Corey Domachowski, Dillon Lewis, Seb Davies, Tomos Williams and Rhun Williams, to name just a few, get on the field is another minute’s worth of experience banked ready to use alongside a healthy looking squad on the other side of the stadium development.
If the development of these young lads is successful then this three year period is as well. That’s the crux of it, and it will be better to focus on this aspect of the Cardiff Blues, rather than results over the next few seasons.
Having said that, there is still grounds to be positive about our chances of being competitive this season. Our squad of 50 has plenty of depth in certain areas, despite looking a bit lightweight in others, and has a number of quality players, not to mention the British and Irish Lions captain.
When looking at the excellent four-game unbeaten streak that kicked off last season we find that Danny Wilson used 29 players, 27 of which are still at the club. Of the two who have left, Cory Allen can be replaced with Willis Halaholo, and Cam Dolan only made one appearance off the replacements bench.
With that in mind, we clearly still have the quality in our squad to compete. Avoiding a repeat of last season’s injury nightmare and rotating the squad effectively will be a major factor in how our campaign pans out, but there’s a glimmer of light to aim for.
What we, as Cardiff Blues fans, need to do is not overreact at this point. The road ahead is a winding one, but it’s littered with as many causes for optimism as there are reasons to be concerned.
If we maintain that undying optimism it takes to turn out at the Arms Park every week then we’ll get through this together. It’s time to all pull in the right direction, which is aiming for a stable and successful Cardiff Blues team, playing at the best stadium, in front of the best fans.
Remember, it’s the hope that kills you, but without the hope we are nothing. Come on Cardiff!!