Monthly Archives: September 2003

A lack of ambition?

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Dec 10 Edinburgh 29-11 L
Jan 20 Toulouse 38-27 L
Jan 27 Gloucester 21-15 L
Sept 15 Munster 10-51 L
Oct 6 Montferrand 10-37 L
Nov 3 Glasgow 32-47 L
Apr 19 Edinburgh 32-10 L
Sept 6 Connacht 23-22 L
Sept 14 Borders 15-18 W
Oct 18 Ulster 25-6 L
Nov 30 Edinburgh 22-26 W
Dec 7 Northampton 25-11 L
Jan 18 Biarritz 75-25 L
Sept 5 Glasgow 23-13 L
Sept 26 Borders 22-20 L

Another weekend and yet another sub-standard performance full of unforced errors and a half hearted mental attitude. Should we be surprised by yet another capitulation by Cardiff away from home? And we really mean, AWAY FROM HOME, not a forty minute bus ride down the M4. Half the players probably travel longer to get to training than they would to play AWAY games in Wales!

So why does the clubs woeful record playing outside Wales continue? In the last three seasons (going back to that memorable day at Vicarage Road), Cardiff have played 14 times outside Wales and only managed a victory on two occasions. During the season previous to the victory over Saracens, the bois also managed a victory against the Harlequins.

So does the club focus on winning away from home? Do they prioritise away games? Do we see extra priority being given to curing this achiles heal? Uh no. Things have got MUCH worse. Think how pleased we’d all be with a loss in Toulouse by only 11 points! Back then, we were gutted. Losing by only six points to Gloucester? Fantastic result! Back then, we were suicidal.

Clearly targets have been lowered as fast as standards have fallen. Three seasons ago we had a squad that we thought could compete in Europe. We stood in The Shed and thought we had a chance of making the semi-finals. Now?

The playing staff at CAP are of a considerably lower standard than they were three seasons ago. Back then, Peter Thomas was talking about winning the European Cup and high profile players laid the foundations to the claim that Cardiff were the best club in Wales. Now, they’re barely the best club in Cardiff.

The drive has gone, the willingness to invest has gone and the club seems to be more interested in breaking even in the short term than investing in the future. And that DOESN’T mean sacrificing a bunch of kids to yet another mauling of their confidence. When the club should have been investing in an experienced Argentinian tight head, or a World Class southern hemisphere second row/number 8, the limit of their ambitions was an English journeyman and re-signing Rob Appleyard.

Following defeat against the worst club in the Celtic League – a team who conceded more than 100 points in their previous two games – it seems pretty clear that if the club continues with its present lack of investment, we can expect a tustle with Ruddock’s team for who will NOT be playing in the European Cup next season.

The Supporters

The same old faces are definitely NOT around on the terraces as they were last season. One season of kids against men was bad enough, but rugby fans are simply not prepared to pay to watch another season of sub-standard amateur performances. Even hardened Cardiff nuts are not supporting the club as they once did. Staging home games on a Friday night effectively limits potential spectators to those who work within one hour of CAP. Contrast the clubs attitude with a hugely successful club like Leicester and you begin to see how badly mismanaged Cardiff really. Despite an army of season ticket holders and a guaranteed five figure gate, Leicester stood on principle last season and refused Sky’s request to play on a Friday night. Can you imagine Cardiff RFC doing the same thing?

Away trips on a Friday night show the clubs utter disregard for supporters – Cardiff is most definitely NOT a “supporters’ club”. The club has always been reluctant to offer any assistance to organising away trips (other than as a means of ripping off supporters with inflated travel costs) and instead relies on the dedication and commitment of those who love the club and DON’T put money in their pockets at the forefront of every decision. Away games on a Friday night mean that supporters have to take a day off work to follow the team. When the location for some games – Borders and Connacht are two that spring to mind – is so far from any easy means of transport, the club clearly couldn’t be bothered whether there are Cardiff supporters at the game or not. And the way the club plays away from home, that’s probably not such a bad thing!

Now that we have the Rags attracting more attention (by making travelling to away games nigh on impossible), the club is using rugby at CAP EVERY Saturday as a way of increasing revenue. Whether the first XV win away from home or not is largely irrelevant to the club, as long as those fivers keep getting spent to watch the Rags.

So there you have it. Cardiff RFC is clearly more focussed on bleeding money from supporters in the short run than investing in a winning first XV. Away games are irrelevant – just look at the results! Filling CAP every week is what matters.

… and the implications ….?

Cleary this approach to the running of the club is not sustainable. Once the core supporters lose interest in away games, how long before they lose interest in watching the Rags getting thumped by forty points? How long before they find something better to do with their weekends? When the first XV start bringing the same form they exhibit away from home to shambolic performances at home, how long before gates start falling at CAP? We all know that this has already happened and the club is on a downward spiral.

Next week, Cardiff face Edinburgh in the quarter final of the Celtic Cup. Count the Cardiff supporters in the crowd. Why bother to travel to support your team when they turn in such terrible performances? Edinburgh began this season with only 22 professionals in their squad of 33 and the average age of the squad is under 23. Cardiff should walk the game. Will they? More crucially, does the club care whether they do or not? After all, they’ll have a good crowd at CAP watching the Rags play Pooler and some tasty bar takings after the game when the die hards watch the game in the club house.

Looking at the fixture list, given the present run of form, it’s difficult to see Cardiff winning anything until the crucial game against Ruddock’s team on November 7th. Loose that, and the kids will be playing in the Mickey Mouse Parker Pen next season and you can forget about attracting ANY class players to play at CAP.

Cardiff RFC – “The Greatest” – not at this rate.

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