NO-ALCOHOL RUGBY ZONES REALLY ARE A GREAT IDEA
Watching Wales v Scotland in the Principality Stadium’s no alcohol zone was a lovely experience – and what happened afterwards just proved why it’s needed, writes Kathryn Williams
IS an alcohol-free zone in the Principality Stadium a good idea? I’d say yes. During the game, I was already 90% sure it was a good idea – but it’s what happened when I left and was doing a piece to camera that convinced me completely.
That’s when a highly inebriated fan (I won’t reveal which side) told me my work was great before he then ruined it by making an obscene, sexually explicit comment directed at me which is far too vile to be printed in a family newspaper.
And this is no time to throw the word “banter” in my face, just in case you were planning to.
Because a) that word has been bastardised for people to get away with being abusive; b) it’s not banter or remotely funny, it’s just gross; and c) I was having quite a polite back and forth with the fella while firmly saying I had to get on with my job.
Before you start, not all drunk people are this offensive and not all sports fans get drunk and abuse people.
I spoke with loads of visitors to the stadium yesterday who accidentally booked no-alcohol zone tickets and were slightly half cut – including two members of a 16-strong stag from Edinburgh and Inverness, one of whom had sex toys taped to their hands – who were lovely. But imagine if I wasn’t working. Imagine if I had brought along children – which many people had. Try explaining that one away.
Imagine if I wasn’t a Valleys girl who doesn’t like to take sh*t.
But all those things are irrelevant. You don’t speak to people like that, drunk or not.
But, that grim experience aside, there are plenty more reasons why I thought this four-match alcohol-free zone was a good idea, and not just because there was less of the drunken bad behaviour Welsh rugby fans have unfortunately got a well-publicised reputation for in recent years.
There was a distinct lack of upand-down, up-and-down as people constantly visited the bar (or toilet – and when you’re in the nosebleed seeds it’s one trip and you’re gone).
I spoke to one family who had brought their son, Alfie. Alfie’s dad Ian Barnett told me that it was the least stressful match he and his family had been to.
“It’s the best visit we’ve had here, today,” said Ian.
“Sitting here made a big difference because drunk people can be really loud and spill beer down the back of your neck. It made a big difference to our enjoyment.”
Even one of the Scottish stags supported the move. Simon Gilmour said: “For families and maybe people who have suffered with alcoholism, it’s a really good idea. And for the rest of us, you can give up alcohol for 40 minutes!”
The Thompson family, from Cwmbran, were there too, with sevenyear-old Mylo and Lacey, 10. They were so chatty, interested and eloquent, I’d hate for them to have to sit next to someone who thought it was OK to eff and jeff all over the place.
Mum Lyndsey said: “The atmosphere is always great wherever you sit. We thought we’d try the zone because we’re in training.
“People get really involved. Up in the stands today there’s not been much swearing at all. There’s been lots of singing and banter.”
So, it was a lovely afternoon at the stadium spent watching a decent rugby match, surrounded by kids cheering, parents and people who dislike being verbally abused (I think that’s probably everyone) and feeling relaxed that they don’t have to ask the sozzled rugby “expert” behind them to stop telling the ref to eff-off.
Match report: Sport pullout
Fans had to drink any alcohol in the walkways behind the stand
This fan was definitely on the pop