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'Flying bottles are not my idea of sporting fun'

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Adrian Warner | 10:53 UK time, Monday, 6 September 2010

Mexican wave at Twickenham. Getty Images

Mexican wave at Twickenham. Getty Images

Olympic organisers have a big lesson to learn from some some chaotic crowd scenes which I experienced at Twickenham at the opening of the new domestic rugby season at the weekend.

Having stopped people from taking drink cans into the stadium, presumably because they could be used as missiles, the bars still sold plastic bottles of coke and cider to spectators.

Sounds harmless? Well, far from it when the bottles are flying into your face and landing on your children from a great height.

In the second half of the Wasps-Harlequins game, the crowd got carried away with a Mexican wave and starting throwing anything they could find into the air; bottles, cups and cardboard beer glass holders.

My friends and I were forced to get our children (all junior rugby players) out of the stadium in the middle of the half because the rubbish being thrown down on us was dangerous. One cider bottle hit me in the face. Stewards and police were powerless to stop it.

It was hardly a great advert for Aviva's new sponsorship of Premiership rugby and I won't be heading back to Twickenham in a hurry.

In fact, I plan to return the tickets I have for the forthcoming autumn internationals to my rugby club because I can't risk taking my son to the game and getting injured. I also prefer to watch matches until the end, rather than having to leave early because it is too dangerous to stay.

The 2012 Olympics have to learn from this. Given that Coca-Cola is an Olympic sponsor and its products will be sold in the Olympic Park, it is crucial that bottles are not sold at all to spectators. Just pour the drinks into a plastic cup. It's hardly rocket science.

There is nothing wrong with a Mexican wave (even though I hate them) and spectators can, of course, get excited if they want, as we all hope they will during the Games. But stadium organisers have to think seriously about what they sell to spectators because a bit of fun can soon turn nasty.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I was at the same game on Saturday and although there was very little bottle throwing where we were sat, you could see all sorts being tossed around during the waves.

    The wave started midway through the second game. It seemed that people had either gone beyond their attention span or got drunk and decided to start a wave rather than watch the rugby. The match itself finished 29-29 and was hardly dull. This presents an interesting challenge to the Olympics where people could be watching sports they don't watch regularly. Will they maintain their attention through to the end or merely turn to entertaining themselves as they did on Saturday.

    I suspect the food and drink in the stadiums will be so expensive people won't have to worry about through empty containers though. No-one will be able to afford to buy it in the first place (tongue firmly in cheek!).

  • Comment number 2.

    So pathetic. It was really good fun.

  • Comment number 3.

    I too was at the game on Saturday and I too am not usually a fan of Mexican waves either. However, I have to say the "rubbish wave" capped off an really good day and was very, very funny.
    Whilst I certainly wouldn't want to see semi-full bottles being thrown, I'm not sure being pelted with empty plastic glasses and showered in beer dregs (even the half-a-burger my friend was hit with) represents some kind of "clear and present danger" to spectators. We got a bit wet, sure, but I suspect the prudent application of a hand over your (and your children's) heads might provided sufficient protection from injury?
    One of the joys of attending rugby fixtures is the generally good-natured, relaxed atmosphere. I wouldn't take my yougest kids to a professional football match, for example, but rugby is certainly no problem (even if they do need a helmet).
    In any case, what do you do? Ban food and beverages from the seating areas of stadia? If the Olympics crowds are bit more mob-like I suppose it might be necessary, but it smacks of telling people not to have too much fun to me...
    Keep smiling Adrian!
    (By the way, I'll have the tickets for the Autumn internationals if you don't want them).

  • Comment number 4.

    I think you have a big lesson to learn if you think you speak for or represent the views of the rugby going public, or are qualified to speak on matters of public safety.

    You may have noticed that almost everybody was participating in the mexican wave. So please take you rather condescending (thank you for permission to get excited) and patronising twaddle and reserve it for perhaps commenting on parking or the weather.

    I had great fun in the wave, happily accompanied by an 8 year old and a 5 year old.

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks for your views, Chatelet530. If you take a look at youtube comment (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FphEmle5uAE), you will also see some people ended up in casualty because of it. Of course I don't claim to speak for the rugby-going public but I reckon I know a bit about it, having played the game now for more than 30 years, I'm an RFU qualified coach and referee and I've have written about rugby for both national and international media organisations since 1987. I've got no problem with people taking part in a Mexican Wave (even though I'd rather watch the game). I do know from reporting at 12 Olympic Games, 5 football World Cups and dozens of world champs in all sorts of sports that at many other stadia around the world, bottles are not sold and the liquid is poured into a plastic glass to avoid the situation we had on Saturday. That's the point, not you guys jumping up and down.

  • Comment number 6.

    Just a quick follow-up: I have since read all four of the club's fan blogs and they all seem pretty upset by Saturday's events, but I sense the resentment runs a little deeper... This is only the second LDH I've been to, but it seems the "real" rugby fans don't much like the casual fans, with their casual approach to the matches. I wonder if much of the problem here is a percieved lack of respect for the (second) game in progress?
    I do feel sorry for those struck by "loaded" objects, that's not acceptable. Adrian I can see your point; we don't want people ending-up in casualty (and a "no bottles" policy would help this, I guess), but I do worry that for those who very feel close to the game (including you) this is more about people in the crowd not behaving like rugby fans "should"...?
    Was it a bit disrespectful to the players? Yes. Did it get out of hand? Yes. But did we hear tens of thousands of people laughing and enjoying themselves....? Yes.
    Overall though I hope fans (real or otherwise) can continue to self-police on this issue rather than having too many restricitions in place. Some would like to see an end to the London Double-Header entirely; is that good for the game? I suspect not. Morevover, I think if we could end up stifling the atmosphere at the Olympics too if we're not careful.
    A sachet of Coca Cola, anyone?

  • Comment number 7.

    Chatelet530, It might surprise you to know that most people went to watch the rugby and not to suffer from juvenile irresponsibility. Just because in your view many participated does not make anything either right or acceptable. You will probably find that many who participated in atrocities over time will have used your argument to justify their behaviour without success.

    I feel sorry for the 8 year old and a 5 year old with you in regard to their not getting any leadership or demonstration of adult behaviour from you, though I accept that it might have been nice for someone to play with at their level.

    Rugby never used to have people who behaved badly. Unfortunately they seem to be coming now.

  • Comment number 8.

    Adrian,
    Good to hear you're a Rugby Fan! I was at the match on Saturday too. If any of your previous contributors think that what happened on Saturday was anything other than a neanderthal display by irresponsible (semi) drunk parents setting an apaulling example to their children then they need their heads well and truly examined. It was a disgrace, not only on the part of the spectators who took part, and if that was the majority then the majority were a disgrace, but it was a disgrace on the part of the RFU.

    Firstly they removed bottles and cans from spectators on the gate, and they did that with humour, something the "Guards" at Wembley seem unable to display, but then to sell the same bottles within the stand defies belief. If the "47 - What Will Carling Called them" who run the RFU claim they instructed the removal of plastic bottles from the spectators on Health and Safety grounds they are Guilty by their own standards of a grave breach of their own Health and Safety standards. Whilst I am not an advocate of some of the fatuous legislation and actions all in the name of health and safety, there was nothing pretty, clever, amusing or any other adjective, that added to the day for anyone who went there for the purpose of watching two games of Rugby, the last ruined by these idiots. I too had my eleven year old boy with me and he was hit on several occasions every time this stupid exhibition came round our part of the stadium. Do any of your contributors who support this cretinous behaviour think this is anything other than dangerous. What do they think that a corner of a beer tray flung from the middle tier onto the lower tier catching someone in the eye can do?

    Secondly the RFU failed in spectacular style on two fronts. The stewards, or rather comically "Customer Services" as they were labelled on the back of their Hi Viz jackets did nothing. If they had moved into the stand at the outset of the stupidity they would have at least had a defence in that they tried to do something. All they did, and there are several correspondents on various web sites who concur, was laugh and thought it was funny. The RFU also failed to do anything, no stadium announcement or anything. The Referee has the power to take a time out in the case of hot weather and the players requiring a drink, this should have been done, the time out that is, until the stadium quietened down but they did NOTHING. RFU - you are ineffectual, indecisive and incapable of running a stadium. Now that you've got twice as many employees as you had five years ago you can't even get this right.

    I like you Adrian, will not be returning to the London Double Header, two games in a row is too much for the "fan" to take who has been sold a very cheap seat to fill the stadium, who has travelled by coach and has had a few tins on the way, and then gets bored during the second game, after, dare I say it, regular visits to the bar.

    If anyone out there went and thought this funny or enjoyed it, do civilisation a favour and stay away next time.

  • Comment number 9.

    The most disappointing aspect was that those of us who went to watch the Rugby being played on the pitch found it difficult to enjoy the game. Having to avoid all the detritus being thrown around and having to explain to my eleven year old son why he shouldn't be joining in with the whole litter throwing detracted from the tension building during the Wasps game. Given the Saracen’s performance I could have understood it slightly more if fans had got bored during that game!

  • Comment number 10.

    I would normally go to football on a Saturday but was offered a £10 ticket for this Double Header at Twickenham. The £10 seats placed us up in the gods but we spied some great empty seats in the lower tear by the try-line so made our way down there. The women spectators at rugby are amazing and not what I'm used to seeing at sporting events … I found that many people were watching this more than the game.
    To comment on Adrian’s article, I must say that I really enjoyed the Mexican wave and litter throwing that ensued. Drinks were reasonably priced and we will certainly be back next year.
    See you all again on 27th May for the Aviva Premiership Final.

  • Comment number 11.

    I LOVE MEXICAN WAVES!!!! And also LOVE litter throwing. Good on you newtorugger...

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    I would first like to respond to Funbus10's comment that he LOVES to
    throw litter - I am not prejudice against any type of love but find your
    love for throwing litter slightly disturbing. Yes it may be fun in the
    heat of the moment, but to actually LOVE doing it? I can only assume you
    are some kind of womble?
    I wasn't in attendance of the game myself on Saturday, I was working out
    in my living room to Natalie Cassidy's new fitness DVD all day to burn
    off the flab built up over the summer holidays but also because I find
    him strangely attractive - but that's neither here nor there.
    A friend at the game called me and filled me in on the entertainment
    that had developed and, eager not to miss out on a Mexican Litter Wave
    he agreed to call at the precise time that the wave was due to be with
    them so that I could throw whatever was in my hands into the air in a
    burst of excitement. He did and up went a number of items in my
    possession at that moment! It was very good fun and strangely was
    exactly what was instructed by Natalie Cassidy on the DVD at that time
    too. However, it made a terrible mess in my living room, there was
    littereverywhere! This took me the best part of
    Sunday to clean - the Marmite on the ceiling taking up the majority of
    this time.
    I would thoroughly recommend a Mexican Litter Wave to anyone wanting to
    brighten up an otherwise boring day but please ensure that it is done in
    a place that somebody else will clean up after you.

  • Comment number 14.

    It seems Rugby and football media reporting are two different languages.

    Rugby - Mexican litter wave, all good fun.

    Football - Mexican litter wave marks return to dark times as hooligans descend upon football match!

    Maybe rugby's "holier than thou" supporters aren't quite as Daz white as they'd like to think they are.

    Didn't see any children leaving in tears or trips to casualty for any fans after the Exeter City game at the weekend!

 

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