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The Tri-Nations final on Saturday night attracted one of the worst turnouts I?ve ever seen. For such a high profile match you'd expect a full house - which equates to around 42,000 at Aussie Stadium - but it was not the case, as only 27,325 flocked to the ground.
It was an absolute thriller of a game. Fans could not have asked for much more - after all, the players kept the crowd on the edge of their seats for not just 80, but 87 minutes when the game went into golden point extra time.
After last week's sold-out game at Suncorp Stadium, Kangaroos coach Ricky Stuart warned the fans that if they didn't come out to support the final, Sydney could start losing the big games to Brisbane.
Stuart was right on the money.
It's sad enough that the so called Rugby League heartland needs a kick in the backside from the Australian coach, but what's even more disappointing is that the Kiwi's were just as vocal as the Aussie's last night. When the ground announcer went through the usual routine of asking the crowd ?Whose going to win tonight?? the Kiwi fans screamed louder.
The loyalty of Rugby League fans in Sydney needs to be questioned. The opportunity to see the best players in the world play the game you love is something die-hard fans don?t knock back.
While kicking back on your couch in front of the TV watching the Nine Network?s excellent coverage saves you a lot of money and is a hell of a lot easier, seeing the game and the players up close makes you appreciate the sport even more.
There?s no denying that there wasn't a good atmosphere at the ground, in fact I thought it was a great crowd in the sense that there was not much nonsense and everyone (maybe not the Kiwi?s at the end) seemed to enjoy themselves - but I still feel embarrassed as a fan and as an Australian that we could not pack out the stadium.
All I can say is thank goodness it wasn't played at Telstra Stadium!
Out-of-towners ? including myself ? were extremely surprised that such a spectacle could not draw a big crowd. I?ve heard people say that there?s just no competition, it?s not worth it, the Aussie?s are just too good, but that could not be further from the truth after what happened on Saturday night and right throughout the series. Not much separated the two sides throughout the final until the Aussie halves showed a touch of class in the final moments.
With the 2008 World Cup just around the corner, Brisbane?s Suncorp Stadium looks set to take the final from Sydney because of insufficient crowd numbers. There?s no doubt where the loyalty lies with Queenslanders - they not only turn up to support their club and state, they also back their National side through thick and thin.
If Sydney is to remain the home of Rugby League, then the fans need to pull their fingers out and get behind the game they love.