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The goal of England is to reestablish a connection with their fans and update the experience at Twickenham.
Rugby union Sport

The goal of England is to reestablish a connection with their fans and update the experience at Twickenham.

The players from England have been discussing new ideas to engage with their fans during the Six Nations tournament this year. They are looking to update the matchday experience at Twickenham in hopes of attracting a wider audience. Suggestions from the team include playing more music during breaks and improving fan involvement, all with the goal of altering the atmosphere surrounding the English team.

Although they made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, England faced disapproval in France and the tumultuous leadership of Eddie Jones, conservative strategies, and expensive tickets have strained the bond between fans and the national team. Jamie George, England’s new captain, has disclosed that his team has proposed various ideas to the Rugby Football Union in hopes of improving the atmosphere at Twickenham stadium.

Winning a few more games, starting with Saturday’s Six Nations opener versus Italy in Rome, would clearly help but George and his team feel their on-field performance can also be enhanced by a more upbeat stadium mood. Twickenham, traditionally perceived as the spiritual home of waxed jackets and red trousers, may be about to Dad-dance to a very different beat.

Anyone who has attended Harlequins’ annual ‘Big Game’ will know Twickenham can be a spectacularly thunderous venue. With that scenario in mind, an upgraded play-list and more musical interludes are likely when Wales visit south-west London on Saturday week. George is not entirely convinced by his teammate Danny Care’s desire to introduce a Kiss-Cam but is pushing for the players’ walk from the team bus to the stadium to be lengthened further into the West carpark.

George expressed that one of the most memorable experiences as a rugby player for England is stepping off the bus and being greeted with a loud roar from the fans. As a child, he imagined standing by the gate and watching the bus pass by, but now as a player, he gets to see his teammates like Maro Itoje, Marcus Smith, Danny Care, and Dan Cole walk past him. The team is currently discussing ways to further connect and interact with their supporters.

“We have also had discussions centered on the matchday experience, focusing on the desired appearance and atmosphere. This is something that has not occurred during my time with the England team. While it may not be flawless for the Wales game, there are promising ideas from players that have been shared with the RFU that we believe will have a positive impact.”

Fans watch a game at TwickenhamView image in fullscreen

George, who is close with Owen Farrell, experienced booing towards his friend during the World Cup. He acknowledges that there is room for improvement and the players are working to promote the game better. The captain emphasized that the team and the RFU care about this issue and are aware that English rugby needs to make improvements. He also mentioned that there have been challenges, such as teams in the Premiership going bankrupt and a decline in grassroots participation. The team recognizes their responsibility to reach a wider audience and shift perceptions.

The players accept, though, that attracting a more diverse audience to international games is easier said than done unless Twickenham ticket prices are significantly reduced. “We would love to be able to reach more of the English public,” said George. “It’s not for me to say about the ticketing pricing … but reaching the right target audience is important for us as a team.”

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He acknowledges that having a more appealing game on the field is also a crucial factor. “The manner in which we play may have influenced the booing. Our team’s main focus is winning games, but we are also discussing ways to energize and engage the audience. Spectators want to witness exciting plays and scoring. As we achieve more victories, we will attract more attention and support for the sport throughout the nation.”

I am not implying that our previous actions were incorrect. Steve Borthwick’s main priority is to continuously improve this team. He is now determined to involve the fans in this journey. I am not guaranteeing major transformations where we become like the Harlem Globetrotters. What I am emphasizing is our desire to enhance our skills in outmaneuvering opposing defenses.

“Our performance at Twickenham has not been satisfactory in recent years, but we have a new team now. The foundation of any England team will always remain the same – a solid set piece and strong defense. However, we are constantly working on improving our attack and finding ways to outplay our opponents, whether it be through making line breaks or scoring tries. That is what we can be enthusiastic about.”

Source: theguardian.com