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Call for a designated away fan area has whipped up fans on Twitter

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Harlequins’ Will Evans has called for the introduction of designated away fan areas at rugby stadiums to help improve the atmosphere at matches. The London club had its fans congregated in a particular section at last Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup match away to Racing 92 and the noise that was generated is something that the club’s back-rower wants to be repeated elsewhere.

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Creating a racket in a designated away fan area isn’t something new to Harlequins – Danny Care has often remarked about the atmosphere the club’s fans generated at the June 2021 Gallagher Premiership semi-final when Bristol allocated them a specific area during a limited capacity match that took place during the pandemic restrictions.

It was also famously said Harlequins’ decision to group Leinster fans together in a designated block was a key factor in the Irish province’s 2009 Heineken European Cup quarter-final ‘Bloodgate’ win at The Stoop.

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Evans wants the decibel levels at matches to be constantly raucous and he believes away sections at grounds are the way to go. Replying to a post-match video of Marcus Smith that Harlequins posted on their Twitter feed following last weekend’s Paris trip, Evans wrote: “Rugby stadiums NEED a designated away fan area that stays the same year on year.

“It’s impossible to create this level of atmosphere without it. Atmosphere = higher attendances/crazier games/better quality rugby. We can’t continue to hold the game back any longer.

“This bizarre myth that if people of the same club all sit together they will be violent or insightful is mind-numbing. It’s bordering on arrogance that we think we are the only sport where people can sit together and not be violent. Average attendances around the leagues are awful (even in Europe). It’s BAD to play in. Players want this. You will see a better product because of it. By all means, sit in the home end and chat with the locals, no problem. But it adds very little to the atmosphere inside the stadium.

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“No one’s going to stop you from buying a ticket in the designated home section. Nor is anyone saying cordon or segregate anyone. But if fans want to add to the spectacle on the pitch by creating an atmosphere you can’t get by the current situation, why on earth stop that!?”

Evans’ suggestion generated plenty of feedback both for and against the idea of a designated away fan area but perhaps the most insightful response in the current climate where rugby wants to grow came from fan Stephen Wall, who suggested that whatever the opinion more players need to speak up. “Fair play,” he wrote. “Need more current players stating their views in public.”

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