Tank Lanning

Bring back the curtain-raiser

2008-09-05 05:45

So I saw during the week that the Springbok women's team will play a two-Test series against a Women's Barbarian XV next month.

Both the to be curtain-raisers to the Boks - Specifically the Springbok-Argentina game in Johannesburg on August 9 and the Springboks-All Blacks clash at Newlands on August 16.

The Baa Baa team will comprise players selected from the national women's teams of England, Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia, along with recently-retired internationals from Canada, USA, and players from various other countries, who are playing club rugby in the United Kingdom. So, in effect a real hotch potch team.

Now at the risk of igniting a fire under the feminist armchair and ruining friendships with every female I know, and with due respect to the players, is this really the right contest to use for bringing back the curtain-raiser?

I am a massive fan of the curtain-raiser, and have long been of the belief that a return to what is seemingly now an "old school" concept, would greatly enhance the ticket buying public's enjoyment of their day out at a stadium.

And perhaps I am being old fashioned and basing my thinking on my experiences in the many curtain-raisers I was lucky enough to have played in - all of the SA Schools, WP under 21, WP B and WP Academy teams played their games as curtain-raisers in those heady early nineties days. In fact, I remember like it was yesterday the times us youngsters would form a tunnel for our heroes like Tiaan Strauss, Calla Scholtz, Keith Andrews, Faffa Knoetze and Gert Smal to run through as they made their way onto the park.

Modern day

And having spoken about the curtain-raiser concept with colleagues and fellow match attendees recently, I certainly do not feel alone in my thinking. Sure the Pom-Pom girls are good to look at, and make for great gallery pics on Sport24, but I am sure they can be accommodated in a day involving more than just the main game - It would also ease congestion issues as more people would then get to the stadium earlier in order to watch the curtain-raiser

I am told that one of the main reasons for not having a curtain-raiser these days is because they do not want to mess up the field. But surely modern day fields are of good enough quality to play two games on them in a day? Unless, of course, the conditions are truly traumatic, as seen in New Zealand a few times already this year. Then people will understand if the match is called off ...

These days, if a curtain-raiser is held at all, it is held so early, that people making the effort to watch it, are left with more than an hour to kill in between games. Take for example, the Newlands curtain-raiser on Saturday - Bishops are playing Paarl Gym in what will no doubt be a fantastic game of running rugby.

But it is being played at 12:00. Not only at the same time as the Tri-Nations game, but also leaving an hour and a half between the finish of that game and the start of the WP game at 15:00. Now wonder they are poorly attended.

I say bring back the curtain-raiser and add value to the ticket purchaser. But please, let's use something entertaining. The SA Schools side has just been selected after a great Craven Week in Pretoria. Surely a match between them and their counter parts from either Australia or New Zealand would have made for better viewing than what is being proposed?

Who knows - Nick Mallet might not ever have complained about ticket prices if he thought spectators were getting value for their money?

  • Tank is a former WP tighthead prop and now Sport24 editor and the author of the blog, Front Row Grunt.

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