From "Midnight Rugby", by Stephen Jones
Ask yourself if the following scenario sounds familiar. You take half a day off work. As you set off north (or south, east or west) it starts to sleet. There are traffic jams on the M1, M6, M5 or M40 (or, indeed, all four). By the time you've found somewhere to park, struggled to find the ground, and to get through the turnstiles, your team is already losing. And it all goes downhill from there. Your feet slowly freeze to the floor. You finally arrive back home at three in the morning, and wake your partner up with: "It was great, I had a wonderful time." And you mean it.
If this rings true, then this site is for you.
First of all, I had better make a confession. I have long considered myself a fan of the round, rather than the oval, ball game. In the past I have made an annual pilgrimage to Twickenham, usually for a club final, but my excursions to watch football have always outnumbered those to see rugby.
Partly this was down to simple choice. There are loads more first-class football teams here in London than there are rugby. After all, of the four teams that contest the annual season opener at Twickenham only one - Harlequins - plays in the capital. The other three have their home grounds in High Wycombe, Reading and Watford, and not even the most rose-tinted estate agent would claim these were part of London.
But in recent seasons I have been watching more rugby. Perhaps because it is cheaper to buy tickets which are easier to obtain. Perhaps I have simply grown to enjoy the more intimate atmosphere of smaller grounds. Perhaps I have just got fed up with the constant hype that constantly surrounds the football premiership, accompanied by the tittle tattle that dominates even broadsheet sports pages.
Rugby supporters are the lifeblood of the game, and always have been. But with the stampede into professionalism and increasingly odd, television-driven dates and times for games, life is much easier for the armchair supporter than for those who trail to distant cities for an evening kick-off during a November blizzard. Those who bother to make such a trip deserve all the support they can get, but in these increasingly commercialised times the humble travelling supporter can often feel forgotten in the hurly-burly of corporate packaging.
Mike Miles, Publisher