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Do we really need music at international rugby events?

Sing when you're winning: England players belt out the anthem Rugby World

Music is back on the agenda in the forthcoming Six Nations – what's that all about? Aren’t we there to watch a game of rugby?


The Six Nations is nearly with us and thousands of rugby fans will be looking forward to hooking up with old pals and watching the best teams in Europe go head-to-head for seven weeks. It is a familiar ritual but, unfortunately, one all-too-familiar part of the modern game is still around and has not been run out of town.

Unnecessary music at matches is one easy selection for Room 101 – a complete no-brainer – just bin it. It the bane of some supporters’ lives who can’t understand why you need to blare out rock tunes at games. You have got some of the best players on the planet in front of the crowd and that should be enough to keep them interested.

The RFU claimed, to our colleague Gavin Mairs in The Daily Telegraph, that Twickenham fans like music at ‘key, big moments’ and that it adds to the atmosphere. Well no-one asked me.

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They did ask 1,000 people at each of the autumn internationals so that is 322,003 people who didn’t get collared for their opinion. Maybe the 4,000 fans who were polled is a statistically significant group but you hear enough moaning about distractions at games to know there are going to be some unhappy bunnies out there in the next few weeks.

And we all know how reliable polls have been over the last year or so when the men and women with clipboards have been left with egg on their faces over Brexit, Donald Trump and the last general election.

The only good news is that assault on the ear drums of punters will be toned down slightly with the DJ only getting into action  when England score a try. If last year is anything to go by when England scored 26 five-pointers in seven Tests at their HQ the bloke on the turntable is going to need a lengthy play-list.

Apparently music will be played during penalties if the match ‘producer’ reckons the atmosphere is too flat but mercifully will not be inflicted on the crowd in injury breaks as it was on England’s tour of Australia last summer. Well how about if the atmosphere is flat it is because the game is not up to much – it happens – and if it is rocking the game is probably half-decent. Why interrupt it the flow with canned tunes? You are allowed to cheer you know.

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We don’t need the tunes at all.

In cricket the music is constantly on at Twenty20 games and the Hollies Stand at Edgbaston on Finals Day can resemble a bad Sunday night at Glastonbury. It is good fun but that is hit-and-giggle cricket and you can imagine the uproar if they started banging out tunes at a Lord’s Test match.

Recently it was reported that Neil Diamond had bought a property in Malibu for more than $7million – he probably got the dosh from the royalties for Sweet Caroline which it is compulsory to play at any sporting event anywhere. Great tune and all that but there is a time and a place and a Saturday afternoon at Twickenham is not it when there are 30 people on the pitch trying to smash each other into the middle of next week.

But this is Test rugby and it doesn’t need hyping up. Madness, Blur and the Rolling Stones, who are all on the shortlist to get an airing at Twickers, are great bands but this curmudgeon reckons they have no place at a rugby match unless Suggs and Mick Jagger fancy watching the game.

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Apparently the RFU has something called a new sport presentation music policy – give me strength – and fans are going to enjoy themselves whether they like it or not.

Music when the players come out of the tunnel is fair enough, but after that they should put a sock in it and let the fans concentrate on the rugby. They have paid top dollar to watch a rugby match and should be allowed to do so without Jagger warbling ‘Start Me Up’.

The Six Nations is a brilliant tournament and this year’s is shaping up to be a top-notch one. As usual Eddie Jones hit the nail on the head at the tournament launch in Putney on Wednesday.

“I think it’s an excellent Six Nations coming up,” he told us. “Look at the form of the contestants, it’s very positive, bubbling isn’t it? Ireland turned world rugby upside down; they come in in good fettle, a well-coached confident group of players.

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“Scotland have been promising to beat a big side for a long time, they should have beaten Australia in November; Italy under Conor O’Shea – beat South Africa, a fantastic achievement, Brendan Venter is on board as the defence coach, the defence will improve measurably.

“Wales – Rob Howley has got a chance of being head coach so he’s going to take them forward. France should have beaten Australia; take the intercept out and they’d have beaten New Zealand. They’ve got a big physical pack, big back line, two Fijian wingers, big South African full-back – a big physical team that know how they want to play.”

If you can’t excited about that little lot you really are in the wrong place and maybe should buy a ticket for a gig and not for a rugby international. You don’t need Damon Albarn to tell you that you are having a good time, just press the pause button please.

And don’t get me on to stadium announcers…

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