Waratahs Membership - Cons Aplenty and One Big Pro

The only reasons to consider getting or renewing Waratahs membership have nothing to do with the Waratahs. It's more about the added extras, like the priority ticket allocation to the British and Irish Lions matches, and, err, well that's it really.

When the Waratahs membership renewal package appeared in the mail the other day a number of things stood out.

For starters, where most sporting teams have goals around winning titles, playing to the best of their ability, or even just not scoring the wooden spoon, the Waratahs slogan for season 2013 is 'Tackle Harder, Play Smarter and Dig Deeper'. At best there is some honesty in admitting that in 2012 the Tahs didn't tackle hard enough, play smart enough, or dig deep enough (this is an odd one though considering how many holes the Tahs dug themselves into) but perhaps an even more honest slogan would be 'Kick Less, Run More, Score More Tries'.

This stuff isn't rocket science, yet clearly Waratahs management (add 'Manage Better' to the slogan for that matter) employed some marketing agency and paid them a large sum to come up with this guff. All they needed was to sit down in a small room at Waratahs HQ (such as the padded one that the coaches use - it's vacant after all) with a couple of supporters (the last two remaining probably) and the new aspirational targets for 2013 would have come spewing forth, probably accompanied by a large number of expletives which would look great on the match day program and the marketing collateral but probably wouldn't get approved by the political correctness police.

The other thing which stood out was the carrots. It's not enough to get a small discount on your ticket prices and if you cough up for the mega 9-game Platinum package the same seats for every game. No. So important is it for press releases to announce increased membership numbers that the NSWRU are throwing hats, bags, lanyards, newsletters, key rings and car stickers at anyone game enough to sit through at least two home games in 2013.

But the biggest carrot by far is Priority Purchase of British and Irish Lions Tickets because these will sell out faster than Drew Mitchell's ankle snaps each time he looks at a Rugby field. This has nothing to do with the quality of the on field play from the Lions (who haven't won a series since 1997), the Waratahs (there is no quality) or the Wallabies (quality is a moving target).

It has more to do with events 12 years ago in Sydney. The Lions tour was progressing swimmingly for the visitors to that point. The full strength team had cruised to a victory over Queensland 42-8 and the back-up team had come within 3 points of Australia A. But the Waratahs were determined to put the wind up the Lions.

Five yellow and one red card later, including five overlapping so at one point somewhere in between the frequent brawls it was 13 vs 12 with Ronan O'Gara being helped from the field after being punched 11 times  by Tahs fullback Duncan McRae who was red carded and scored seven weeks for his efforts (see video below), the Waratahs lost the match 41-24. But from that point on the Lions knew that any Australian team they were to face were going to stick it to them. To that point too, Wallabies supporters wore more gold than ever before (to counter the Lions red tide).


The Waratahs lost the match, the Wallabies won the war (they won the series 2-1), and Duncan McRae carved for himself a little piece of Waratahs history as the man that beat (literally) the Lions.

It's enough to make one salivate at the prospect of the 2012 rematch. It's even enough to make one desperate enough to take up Waratahs membership.

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