11:38am Wednesday 15th February 2012
There were plenty of reasons not to get out of bed on Saturday, even though Harlequins were set to play London Irish in a 'London derby' at the Stoop, writes Ben Wallace.
It was cold, I had a cold, Quins were without their international stars and their form of late (two wins in the last six) has been, well, a little off.
But ultimately I did get out of bed and I did head down to the Stoop on a sunny winter afternoon. And I am glad I did.
I clearly wasn’t the only one to brave the cold, with 13,400 other people deciding that for all the reasons to stay in the warm, there is always one shared reason to get out of it - we all love watching live rugby.
It's not that the game was a classic, it wasn't. Quins ran home comfortable winners in the end, 30-23, despite a late rally from London Irish that earned them a bonus point, but the point is a great day at the rugby doesn’t need a great game.
What makes it is the atmosphere, the friendliness, the warm burger van chips and the cold beer. The feeling that by being there you are a part of the result, of the history of the fixture.
It so happens this was also the first time I have been to Quins on my own.
But, there is a feeling you’re not ever really on by yourself. Within minutes you’re butting in with others’ pre-game chitter chatter, swapping sports facts and giving lively opinions.
Live sport is about being a part of it, experiencing the event not just watching it.
You feel somehow that being there changes the stakes, maybe perhaps even the outcome.
There is no doubt that the slightly obscured view from my cheap season ticket is better than any TV. No, there are no replays, no slow motion segments, but you can hear and see the little extras you miss on TV.
The off-the-ball nudge, the wide players screaming for the ball, the obvious knock-on that I can see from 50 metres but the referee can’t see from two metres away... Well, maybe the last one is the gift of an ‘unbiased fan’!
So this week Quins won and I was glad to get out of bed.
But whilst you can never guarantee a win, or vintage rugby every week at the Stoop or indeed anywhere, I can guarantee great fans, a fantastic atmosphere and a great day out
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