Just one week into the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, home based fans from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland have been criticised for their lacklustre performances before, during and after their respective nation's matches.
Whilst the performance of those fans who travelled to New Zealand has been exemplary, those who have remained on home soil are being accused of letting their countries down. Figures reveal that in comparison to previous southern hemisphere tournaments (particularly 2003 in Australia) fewer UK fans are socialising in the pub or with each other during matches and instead are choosing to watch games on their own in comfort.
Social commentators cannot agree if the trend is part of the global economic downturn but it is estimated that less than 8% of English fans and 12% of Welsh fans were inebriated by the conclusion of their nation's respective opening games last week. The usual figure is normally closer to 40% after World Cup matches and, even allowing for the recession, the figure is abnormally low.
"We are particularly disappointed by the Irish performance," said IRB Fan Liaison Officer Joanne Woods. "Whilst we appreciate Ireland's opening game was a Sunday morning against a so called second tier nation, we really thought there would be more oomph to proceedings. We expected at least 48% of the Irish to have consumed unhealthy levels of alcohol prior to the final whistle in their match against the USA.
"With such a dire performance we actually expected a sharp spike in drinking levels during the second half, but it was not to be. The media may be focusing on the poor Irish performance off the field, but the real shock is the lack of drinking back in the Emerald Isle. They need to step their game up this weekend against Australia."
For the full story: click here.