At the stadium or on TV?
Sport24 columnist Gary Boshoff (File)
One thing that has of late become a regular topic among my friends and I is whether watching rugby live on the big screen is better than being at the actual game where you can experience the electric atmosphere of the stadium.
I have to say upfront that I certainly prefer being in the stadium. No matter what they come up with technology-wise, I am pretty sure that nothing will be able to replace the genuine live experience.
One of the things that certainly has upped the ante in favour of the live big screen experience is the increased size of the screens and off course High Definition! Add to that the Super Slow Motion replays, repeat views to check where the officials messed up or where the opposing team tried to coward one of our your team’s players and the in-house experience come pretty close (or as some of my friends believe, even surpasses) to the live in-stadium experience. The final ingredient that makes the big screen experience special is the quality of the commentating and analysis that gives (or is supposed to give) the at-home spectator a unique perspective on the game. So taking all these aspects into account it certainly looks as if it is advantage home viewing.
Off course, the availability of the big screens at all the big rugby stadiums has kept "stadium spectators" in the loop as far as the television pictures are concerned, but they still lose out on the commentary.
I also have to acknowledge that some television viewers sometimes prefer to turn the sound off because of the below standard commentating that is allegedly experienced from time to time. People have their preferences and this needs to be respected and acknowledged.
Last year the SuperSport commentating team had the honour of being addressed by one of the most famous rugby commentators of all time, Keith Quinn from New Zealand. He was the commentator that described the 1995 Rugby World Cup final between the All Blacks and the Springboks at Ellis Park (now Coca-Cola Park). During his presentation he explained how he prepares for a match and the painstaking details he researches on players and previous encounters between the teams he is to commentate on.
On Sunday I listened to Quinn describing the final of the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens between New Zealand and Fiji and halfway through the game it once again dawned on me why he is, after all these years, still one of the best rugby commentators in the world.
The way he described this match literally “pulled me into” the Hong Kong Stadium and “the unique experience” it is. I was at the Hong Kong Sevens in 2010 (for real) and it was an unbelievable experience to be in that stadium when it is packed and you know that the whole rugby world is watching what you’re experiencing. It was magical!
However, on Sunday, through real live big screen television, in High Definition, and all alone, I felt the excitement, the intensity and the electricity of the “2010 Experience” (and more) again! I didn’t think it was possible.
Quinn had much to do with this. He likened the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens final to perhaps the greatest Sevens match ever played - and that says a lot coming from the legendary New Zealander. At the end he made the following remark (to the viewers, off course): “You’re eyes have seen the Glory! You have seen rugby at its most beautiful - what a beautiful game it is! If the final of the 2016 Olympics Sevens is half as good as this one, you would have witnessed a great final”.
I found myself standing in front of the television (all alone) clapping and cheering the great spectacle the Hong Kong Sevens has become. A few minutes later I wondered if it was Quinn’s intriguing commentary and unlimited knowledge of the Fijians and the New Zealanders, or the incredible crisp, “real life” picture quality that turned it into the “real” experience I got.
One thing is for certain, next year I will have a few friends over for the Hong Kong Sevens playoffs and final; and yes, hope that Quinn is still the anchor commentator.