JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Early kick-off makes for a memorable return to rugby heartland

Date

Greg Growden

MONDAY MAUL

Just like the old days … Saturday's Allianz Stadium crowd for the Wallabies-Wales Test revelled in the atmosphere of afternoon football at Moore Park.

Just like the old days … Saturday's Allianz Stadium crowd for the Wallabies-Wales Test revelled in the atmosphere of afternoon football at Moore Park. Photo: Getty Images

Several hours before Test kick-off, Robbie Deans headed to the SCG to talk at a function. A young boy, with his face painted in national colours, was walking towards Deans. The youngster suddenly looked up, saw the Wallabies coach and appeared in a state of shock. He stopped in his tracks, and screamed: ''Oh my god! Oh my god! I can't believe it. It's Steve Waugh.''

Deans almost doubled over in laughter and was even impressed that in the eyes of one imp he resembled someone who he admires. After all, Deans is a cricket tragic.

As with so many others on Saturday afternoon, that stroll to Allianz Stadium from the SCG before the Test was a memorable moment.

Wallabies vs Wales. Allianz Stadium. Action from the game. Click for more photos

Australia complete clean sweep over Wales

Australia edged the third and final Test to take the series 3-0 at Allianz Stadium. Selected Images available from www.fairfaxsyndication.com . Follow us at http://twitter.com/photosSMH Photo: Anthony Johnson

The SCG had been invaded by a sea of green and gold as countless families with children chased past and present Wallabies for autographs, got involved in rugby drills, or just revelled in the fact that for several hours they were allowed to stand on the actual spot where many of Australian sport's most cherished moments occurred. All you could hear was laughter, and people young and old talking about how this fan day had brought them back to NSW rugby heartland.

Then on to a much-anticipated Test match and a game where spectators heard something not experienced at a Sydney international for a long time. As the teams lined up for the national anthems, you could hear a hum around the ground. That happens at an Ashes cricket Test before the first ball is bowled, a State of Origin fixture, AFL final at the MCG, but very rarely at an Australian rugby international. It is more a mute silence or just the clinking of glasses in the corporate boxes. But on Saturday, that ground that even had a few mungos - Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler - among them was humming.

Sadly the Test did not live up to the build-up, primarily because a pedant with a whistle did all he could to hose down everyone, but this sunny Sydney afternoon will still be remembered as the day where rugby may have just won back some lost hearts.

The combination of the Wallabies returning to their original home, excellent promotions where the focus for a change was on making the spectator feel wanted, and a 3pm kick-off was a winner. Hopefully Australian rugby administrators get the hint. Keep doing it. Reserve at least one or two Test matches a year for Moore Park and play it in daylight. The punters love it. The Paddington pubs were again full and talking rugby. Most importantly the kids, which the health of the code relies upon, adore it.

Even Deans was overwhelmed by the occasion. ''What was going on around the ground was just fantastic. It involved the next generation,'' Deans said yesterday. ''What is often missed is the kids who experience such encounters. A Test resolved in the last few minutes in the sunshine, in the daytime, when you're with your family and your friends, well that involves everything which is good about the game. There was so much camaraderie. The Welsh came into our rooms and we mixed. Fantastic. With that, players develop lifelong friendships. That's what the game is all about.''

Also, Allianz Stadium is a perfect venue for afternoon Tests. But for it to be an even better venue involves concerted support from local government figures and agencies. The SCG Trust has impressive plans for the area, including underground car parking, walkways, improving the stadium capacity, erecting a roof over the playing surface and even light rail to the precinct. But for that to happen, it relies upon substantial government funding. Considering how big a success Saturday was, there must be votes in it.

47 comments so far

  • Were you at a different match to me? The atmosphere was as flat as a pancake. As usual, the visiting fans made far more noise than the locals, and the Welsh anthem was sung with gusto while the usual desultory mumbled chorus of "Advance Australia Fair" made me want to hide. Frankly, rugby test matches are wasted on Sydney crowds, and next year's Lions tests, when there are 40,000 Lions fans in the crowd, might give you a better idea of what "atmosphere" is.

    Commenter
    James
    Date and time
    June 25, 2012, 8:54AM
    • I have to agree with the 1st comment that "as usual, the visiting fans made far more noise than the locals"
      I was sitting in the members and they just don't know how to 'fire up' for a game of footy. Polite clapping for penalty goals but no bellowing voices. One chap in front of me remarked that he might need his earmuffs for my screaming to which I replied that this was footy not a night at the ballet!
      All in all, still good to be back at the SFS for an arvo game ... keep it up ARU

      Commenter
      World in Union
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 25, 2012, 11:20AM
  • Bring Test Rugby back to Concord Oval

    Commenter
    Hooker
    Location
    Concord
    Date and time
    June 25, 2012, 9:07AM
    • Yes. You might be closer to the action. Yes. The pubs near the ground are great. BUT the Sydney Football Stadium is a decrepit facility. Just ask the hundreds of people caught in the crush before the game trying to get to their respective gates behind the Paddington end of the ground. Just ask the thousands that didn't get to see much of the match because they were stuck in a queue trying get some food, a beer or go to the toilet. Then to top it off, the seats are so close together, you end up getting very friendly with the person next to you - like them or not. I am just glad that I wasn't one of those unfortunates that drove. Greg, you continually promote the SFS but it is second rate. Even the stadium administrators know that anything over 30000 is too much for the place to handle. Before anything else is done, the place needs to be bulldozed and replaced with an acceptable arena with facilities to match.

      Commenter
      Tony
      Location
      Earlwood
      Date and time
      June 25, 2012, 9:18AM
      • Homebush killed Rugby Union, now its time for the SFS to re establish the game we all love.
        Paddington was a buzz, every restaurant, bar and cafe was full to the brinm... We are your hardcore supports! keep the games local at the SFS!

        Commenter
        Jpack
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 25, 2012, 9:38AM
        • Any Sydney test, other than All Blacks or Springboks should be held at the SFS on a Saturday afternoon. Now all we need to do is fix the laws !

          Commenter
          Foxen
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          June 25, 2012, 9:39AM
          • Jpack:
            Hombush is in the process of killing the Socceroos too:( 30k rattling around inside that mammoth white elephant just kills any chance of a proper footbll atmosphere. I with the FFA would see the light and schedule more Socceroos games at the SFS.

            Commenter
            Kasey
            Location
            Bondi
            Date and time
            June 25, 2012, 11:56AM
        • Such a fantastic occassion, and the game was only a small part of it! Whether it be showing up to the ground with the Welsh choir belting out Tom Jones tunes or the pilgrimmage up to Paddington after the match to share a beer with people decked out in Gold or Red scarves, it reminded us all why Rugby is such a grand lifestyle! Please keep doing this ARU!

          Commenter
          G Dog
          Date and time
          June 25, 2012, 9:40AM
          • @Tony, I drove my family out from the Northern Beaches couldn't of been easier. Left home at 1 pm parked across the road at 1.35pm Walked up to oxford st for a quick beer / pizza with other families then into Bay 18 at 2.50 for kick off. Sure the beer line was bearing on riduculous , but I was with the kids and they were not drinking.It wasnt as if those wanting a beer weren't going to have a few afterwards. When we left it was just as easy to get out once the kids did the running on the field thing and we had another drink next dooor at the entertainment quarter.Like any major event it is all about the planning.
            The worst part of the day was the ref, next time we should just leave him out.

            Commenter
            Mike
            Location
            syd
            Date and time
            June 25, 2012, 9:54AM
            • Bring back Waltzing Matilda we so need that bonding that brings the crowd together, we are laways know as quiet polite crowds we need someone to get us going John Williamson is fantastic!! AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE. By the way Joubert as good a ref as he is missed several crucial decisions like the late tackle on beale that swung the game!

              Commenter
              Col
              Location
              Perth
              Date and time
              June 25, 2012, 11:46AM

              More comments

              Make a comment

              You are logged in as [Logout]

              All information entered below may be published.

              Error: Please enter your screen name.

              Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

              Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

              Error: Please enter your comment.

              Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

              Post to

              You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

              Thank you

              Your comment has been submitted for approval.

              Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

              Related Coverage

              Super Rugby 2015

              Round 1
              Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
              CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
              BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
              Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
              LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
              BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
              Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
              SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
              BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
              WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 2
              Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
              CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
              REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
              Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
              BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
              HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
              RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
              Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
              STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
              SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 3
              Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
              HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
              FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
              Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
              CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
              CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
              REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
              Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
              BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
              LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 4
              Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
              CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
              BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
              Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
              BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
              RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
              Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
              CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
              STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 5
              Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
              HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
              FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
              Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
              CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
              HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
              RED vs BRU 29 Stats
              Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
              STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
              CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 6
              Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
              HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
              REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
              Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
              CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
              Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
              BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
              SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
              WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 7
              Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
              HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
              RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
              Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
              CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
              HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
              WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
              Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
              SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
              BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 8
              Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
              HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
              REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
              Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
              CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
              BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
              Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
              SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
              LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 9
              Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
              BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
              Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
              CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
              WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
              FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
              Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
              LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
              BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 10
              Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
              CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
              Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
              HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
              HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
              BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
              FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
              Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
              SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
              CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 11
              Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
              CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
              BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
              Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
              CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
              WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
              Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
              LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
              STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
              RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 12
              Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
              HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
              BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
              Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
              BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
              HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
              REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
              Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
              CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
              BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 13
              Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
              CRU vs RED 17:35AMI
              REB vs BLU 19:40AAMI
              Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
              HUR vs SHA 17:35WS
              FOR vs WAR 19:40nib Stadium
              LIO vs HIG 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
              Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
              STO vs BRU 01:05DHL Newlands
              View All Fixtures
              Round 14
              Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
              BLU vs BUL 17:35EP
              RED vs REB 19:40SS
              Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
              HUR vs CHF 17:35WS
              WAR vs SHA 19:40AS
              Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
              LIO vs BRU 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
              CHT vs HIG 03:10FSS
              View All Fixtures
              Round 15
              Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
              CHF vs BUL 17:35Rotorua International Stadium
              RED vs SHA 19:40SS
              Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
              BLU vs HUR 17:35Emirates Airlines Park
              WAR vs CRU 19:40ANZ
              FOR vs HIG 21:45nib Stadium
              Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
              CHT vs LIO 01:05FSS
              STO vs REB 03:10DHL Newlands
              View All Fixtures
              Round 16
              Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
              CRU vs HUR 17:35Trafalgar Park
              BRU vs BUL 19:40GIO Stadium
              Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
              SHA vs REB 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
              HIG vs CHF 17:35Rugby Park
              FOR vs RED 19:40nib Stadium
              Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
              STO vs CHT 01:05DHL Newlands
              LIO vs WAR 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
              View All Fixtures
              Round 17
              Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
              HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
              FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
              Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
              REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
              BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
              RED vs CHF 19:40SS
              CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
              Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
              STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
              View All Fixtures
              Round 18
              Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
              BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
              REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
              Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
              BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
              CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
              WAR vs RED 19:40AS
              Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
              BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
              SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
              View All Fixtures
              Round 19
              Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
              7 vs 7 09:00
              Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
              7 vs 7 09:00
              View All Fixtures
              Round 20
              Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
              7 vs 7 09:00
              Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
              7 vs 7 09:00
              View All Fixtures
              Round 21
              Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
              7 vs 7 09:00
              View All Fixtures
              Super Rugby 2015
              Overall standings
              Team P W L D +/- Pts
              Hurricanes 10 9 1 0 107 43
              Bulls 11 7 4 0 48 34
              Brumbies 11 6 5 0 93 32
              Chiefs 11 8 3 0 77 38
              Waratahs 10 7 3 0 32 31
              Stormers 11 7 4 0 25 30
              Highlanders 10 7 3 0 53 33
              Lions 11 6 5 0 -45 27
              View all
               
              Featured advertisers