Soper backs local game over ‘robotic’ Pro12

Banbridge are sitting pretty atop the table and the coach says attendances are on the rise. INBL1548-268EB
Banbridge are sitting pretty atop the table and the coach says attendances are on the rise. INBL1548-268EB

An indifferent season for Ulster Rugby in the Guinness Pro12 could have a benefit for local clubs.

The province are sitting seventh in the table after a disappointing start but Banbridge Head Coach Daniel Soper reckons their loss in terms of support, could be the clubs’ gain.

“Over the last few weeks, there has been a drop-off in crowds at Pro12 matches,” he said. “There’s arguments as to how many of the season ticket holders are actually at the games for the official figures but by all accounts the attendance at the Leinster versus Ulster game was pretty small.

“I think there are a lot of people getting into grassroots rugby and coming down to watch those games instead.

“Last Saturday, even in the bad weather, we had a very good crowd at the game and the clubhouse was full at 5pm.

And Soper reckons that the product on offer in the local game is one worth watching.

“It’s not superstar rugby but it is good,” he told the ‘LEADER.’ “It’s exciting because there are more mistakes made and you can how people and teams react to them. It’s a bit more human than the robotic nature of professional rugby.

“People feel attached to the clubs and to the players, who they maybe know. I think there are a lot of people out there who do and would enjoy club rugby.

“It’s a great day out that costs nothing, unless you want to buy a beer.”

And for local fans of the sport, there could scarce be a better time to back a Banbridge side who are sitting pretty at the top of the Division 2A league table.

“Of course, it helps that we’re winning but we’ve got a good following and hopefully there will be a good crowd down to Queen’s on Saturday,” he concluded.