Time to revisit pricing policy to entice fans back?
THERE were no surprises in the result at the Mennaye Field on Sunday and everyone went home happy that the Cornish Pirates had navigated their way through some potentially treacherous waters to the cup quarter-final.
The post-match singing was loud and full of contributions from the travelling Scots and you could not help but feel pleased that the club had shown itself in an excellent light to a team from north of the border who they might never play again.
Other than Wes Davies' slow motion sidestep which left three Dundee defenders looking for taxis home as he cantered home for his second try, the best bit of the day for me was to see so many fans turn up for a game in a cup which nobody (apparently) cares much for.
In fairness to the Cornish Pirates they have always taken the British & Irish Cup seriously. Winners in its first year, semi-finalists last season, and now through to the last eight this time their record speaks for itself, but coupled with six wins on the bounce and a profitable Christmas on the field of play people are starting to feel easier about paying to watch their rugby again.
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To the credit of the Pirates management team they helped matters with a £10 admission price for this game and let Under-16s in free. Suddenly there were 1,500 paying customers in the arena whereas in the past the magic 1,000 figure has been an effort to attain.
This isn't a dig at the Cornish Pirates, before anyone construes it as such, but rather a genuine question. Why can't admission prices be slashed for all the less-fashionable games including Championship matches?
I appreciate that the budget will have been set for the season with all the overheads and running costs of the squad factored in but this season began so slowly and with so much despondency among some, that swimming in a bath of custard might have been seen as a more worthwhile way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Since that horrible night at Bedford at the end of November the Pirates have clicked and begun playing their best rugby of the season even with the constant handicap of missing several key players sidelined with injuries.
Beating Plymouth and Bristol put down a real marker and people who thought that this would be a season of rank nothingness are starting to believe that maybe the play-offs aren't such a distant dream after all.
The Mennaye was rocking when Bristol came to town and the atmosphere wasn't too shabby for Dundee either. The players love it when the ground is full, they feed off it and it really does help them. Trust me, enough of the boys have told me so.
So how about the Pirates as a club revisiting their ticket pricing policies for the remaining home games? Is it possible to cut prices? Can a few pence be put on the price of a pint or a pasty to help with the shortfall? Are discounted season tickets for the remaining home games an option? How about a flat family ticket price for all games to encourage groups?
These are all ideas off the top of my head but surely there is some mileage here because with a little more incentive to those casual floating fans who help fill any ground in any town, this slow-burner of a season for the Pirates could yet end with some real fireworks at a regularly sold-out Mennaye. That is what we want isn't it?
– Dick Straughan