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The Analysis | Struggling to Create Entertainment: Twickenham's Challenges with Hitting the Wonderwall
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The Analysis | Struggling to Create Entertainment: Twickenham’s Challenges with Hitting the Wonderwall


After the United States military invaded Panama in 1989, it took them 10 days to convince dictator Manuel Noriega to surrender himself from his hiding spot at the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See. The soldiers famously surrounded the building and used loudspeakers to blast music, including AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long, Van Halen’s Panama, and Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up, day and night until Noriega gave in. During halftime at the Twickenham event last Saturday, it crossed my mind that the job could have been done much quicker if they had hired stadium DJ Tony Perry instead, like the RFU did.

This statement is not meant to criticize Perry, as his performance would likely be entertaining if you were heavily intoxicated on Ocean Beach in Ibiza. However, in a different setting, such as being at a rugby match with your grandfather in chilly February weather, discussing the referee’s decision for a scrum penalty while waiting in line for the restroom, it may not be as well received.

Rugby union has traditionally had a inconsistent approach to providing entertainment during match days. A professional player from New Zealand shared with me that he made the decision to retire after experiencing a bizarre pre-game show where three men dressed as knights on horseback brandished swords along the touchline. He thought to himself, “I am too old for this nonsense,” and subsequently retired.

I fully support the presence of the regimental goat, marching band, and male choir at the Principality. Watching Ireland play at the Aviva Stadium is a wonderful experience, and the electric atmosphere at a match in Paris or Marseille when France is playing will give you goosebumps. However, attending a match at Twickenham has become a confusing experience, as it’s not clear who the organizers are trying to please. Do the fans who have paid for a seat in the West Stand really want to be bombarded with 10 minutes of electronic dance music during halftime? Or would they be satisfied with a bathroom break, a drink, and the opportunity to express their frustrations about the quality of the refereeing?

Rugby appears to be struggling to find a balance between satisfying its current fans and attracting new ones. This can be observed in the Netflix documentary on the Six Nations, which aims to introduce the sport to a wider audience. Additionally, for the first time, the teams are wearing jerseys with players’ names on the back, which has been described as an attempt to appeal to casual fans. However, the lettering is so small that it may require opera glasses to read, and the French team purposely made it small as they do not believe the names should be displayed at all.

England captain Jamie George talks to his players during an injury break against Wales.

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Amidst the various inquiries and uncertainties that remained after the game ended on Saturday, one particular question stood out: why was Oasis’s “Wonderwall” playing over the loudspeaker during breaks in the final minutes of the match? This topic has now joined the list of post-game discussion topics, alongside debates about George Ford’s movements during his conversion kick, the secret to Chandler Cunningham-South’s success, and the perennial question of how to get back to Richmond from Twickenham.

If you find that listening to Wonderwall at a loud volume improves your mood and state of mind, chances are you are not sober. However, this past Saturday, the RFU also experimented with designated alcohol-free areas in the stadium. According to reports in the Telegraph, some fans were caught off guard and had to quickly finish their drinks in the concourse area. These sober sections were not intended for families or those who prefer to avoid alcohol, but for those who wanted to watch the game without constantly getting up to let people out to go to the bar.

Recently, the players from England have been discussing ways to enhance the matchday experience at Twickenham. They have been honest in recognizing that their performance on the field plays a significant role in this. However, there were also some small improvements seen on Saturday. It is possible that these were influenced by the suggestions of their new captain, Jamie George, and the senior players. It is likely that George can empathize with those who pay for tickets at Twickenham, or has had discussions with individuals who do so.

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A live band performed on the sidelines and the players’ entrance into the stadium was successful. It was much better than when Stuart Lancaster had them do it during the 2015 World Cup. At that time, many of the players disliked it, which is why they stopped when Eddie Jones offered the option to continue. Now, if only George could speak to them about the half-time music as well…

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Source: theguardian.com