Football or rugby?

by admin

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Which sport has the best set of fans?

Football or rugby? Which are more passionate, more loyal, more knowledgeable and which generate the more infectious atmospheres?

There is only one answer as far as I am concerned and it’s not the group of egg-chasing enthusiasts.

Yet I recently got into a heated discussion about the merits and flaws of each set of fans and which I would rather sit amongst.

Ignoring the fact football is a vastly superior sport I did not have to think for very long before coming up with several reasons to back up my stance.

Indeed soon after playing what I thought was the aces of all trumps I was rocking back in my chair and rejoicing in the kind of satisfaction which only comes when you know you’re right.

Surely the chilling half-time rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone which saw Liverpool come back from the dead in the 2005 Champions League final was an unquestionable and unprecedented example of how footie fans are clearly better?

My learned adversary on the other hand was not in the least bit convinced.

“Hasn’t the very presence of football’s innate tribalism provoked an environment of conflict which damages what is so often called the ‘beautiful game’?

“Isn’t it a sad reflection on the game that fans are still divided by class and can’t even sit side-by-side?”

After some form of expression had returned to my face I stepped back in the ring and engaged in another round of verbal warfare.

I pointed out that the segregation of fans in football stadiums is what makes the mood so enjoyable. It creates a feeling of togetherness and unity which just doesn’t exist when fans are sat apart.

He pointed to the darker episodes of football fandom and the fact beer is increasingly banned from stadiums – something which does not happen in rugby.

He even had the cheek to refer to Nottingham Forest’s pioneering attempt to open up part of the Brian Clough stand at the City Ground to families from home and away fans.

“The fact Forest’s trial with Doncaster fans was described as historic, brave and commendable just goes to show how far behind rugby fans they are,” he said.

“Playing happy families for one afternoon does not hide the fact football fans cannot always be trusted to enjoy the game in the right spirit – just look at the West Ham Millwall game earlier this season.”

At this I point I admitted being a football fan offered more lows than rugby but I maintained that it also offered more highs.

It may not be feasible in modern day football to allow fans to mingle in the stands but that is not a bad thing.

Tribalism may be innate but it’s what generates the passion, fervour and support which makes being a fan of any sort worthwhile.

He was still not convinced. On this occasion we had to agree to disagree.

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  • Matt Quinn

    I hate Rugby.

    I hate how i can be watching a premiership game in a pub and then suddenly the TV gets turned over for the England rugger team. Rubbish. Its not a sport.

  • harry


  • dexylongshot

    I am and will always be a football man but I do enjoy the rugby, especially the international arena. You can’t knock the rugga bugga, it’s a mans sport and if football had half the the discipline and respect that Rugby has, the world of footy would be a better place.

  • Bakes

    Both great sports. My heart will always be with football but the more and more I watch it, the more I am falling out of love with the game. The atmosphere of a good game of football is hard to beat and rugby will never match it when it comes to the club game. There is much more good natured banter between fans who can sit together at rugby and that is something special. I love being able to have a chat with the Kiwi, Aussie or whoever sitting next to me. You can go to the rugby and by the end of the game you can be drinking with your new found chum, even if he is the oppo.

    At the football, there is always a good bit of banter but there is also so much cringeworthy stuff. I cannot get passionate about one club when it comes to rugby. I like to see how all the London teams do and want all English teams to do well in Europe, something I cannot say about football. So tribalism is definitely more football related. However, it takes something to beat the atmosphere of a big international game of rugby. I have been to games at Twickenham, Murryfield and Stade de France and it can really make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Just the singing of the anthems can be deeply emotional. Rugby stands for a lot of the morals that football seems to have forgotten. However, because of the money involved, rugby has started to tread the slippery slope of football.

    Both games are great and I struggle to pick a superior one. It’s a good thing that cricket beats them both!!! Cue the abuse!

  • dexylongshot

    Cricket, bore off!

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