23 Sep 2015

ABs fans need to stand up and be heard

10:32 am on 23 September 2015

OPINION: As a life-long rugby fan it warmed my heart to see thousands of New Zealand rugby jerseys descend on Wembley Stadium on Sunday for the All Blacks opening Rugby World Cup match.

There was an electric atmosphere inside the stadium with supporters making lots of noise from the outset - but unfortunately not much of that came from All Blacks supporters.

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The Argentine contingent in the stands claimed home advantage for the match upstaging their Kiwi counter-parts throughout the afternoon.

It wasn't that All Blacks fans were massively outnumbered - there were plenty of people in black jerseys making lots of noise on the trains and in the pubs around the ground before and after the match.

However it seemed as soon as they took their seats they lost their voices, drowned out by the singing, hollering, and yes, booing from the fans in blue and white.

Pumas fans showed the Kiwi crowds how to support their team.

Pumas fans created a carnival atmosphere at Wembley. Photo: AFP

New Zealand fans at the game between the All Blacks and the Pumas.

All Blacks fans at the game Photo: AFP

Many New Zealanders I spoke to who had attended the match commented on the lack of enthusiasm from their compatriots, with one person saying the most vocal All Blacks supporters she heard were a group of Germans attending their first rugby match.

It's something that could become a factor in this tournament if the All Blacks meet the hosts England at the business end, who had fantastic support at Twickenham in their opener, adding to the massive sense of occasion.

Maybe it's because we come from the home of the tall poppy syndrome where we're discouraged from celebrating success or maybe it's just the sheer nerves that come in a close All Blacks encounter, but it strikes me as odd that the home of the world's strongest rugby team doesn't have the fans to match.

It took until Aaron Smith put the All Blacks in front in the second half for the fans to make themselves heard at all. As if all the nerves that had been bottled up throughout the tense match had been released.

It brought to mind that famous football chant that is sure to have rung out at Wembley on many occasions before.

"You only sing when you're winning!"

Whatever the reason, perhaps the New Zealand fans can find their voice sometime over the next few weeks, with matches against Namibia, Georgia and Tonga likely to produce plenty of All Blacks tries and more than enough cause for celebration.

Alex Coogan-Reeves is a seasoned sports journalist, rugby nut and globe trotter. He will be following all the action around the UK and giving those of us who are stuck here an insight into what 's going on over there.

Between the posts - Alex Coogan-Reeves

Between The Posts will run throughout the World Cup on radionz.co.nz

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