The East Terrace - For the rugby football enthusiast

Fan suffering from burnout to take season break

Originally published October, 2004

Rugby fan Peter Hodges, based on a leather sofa in Glasgow, is to take a season break from the game to recover from the draining effect of modern sports viewing. The overloaded fixture schedule of modern rugby, combined with the dawn of cable and satellite TV saturation coverage, has begun to take a frightening toll on the health and well-being of countless fans across the globe. The burnout of an experienced fan like Hodges is sure to put pressure on the IRB to take action to reduce fans' workload.

'I haven't had a break since the summer of 1994 when I had to take the wife on holiday and missed the summer tours,' said a clearly weary Hodges from his Glasgow sofa yesterday.

'The domestic season in the UK starts in August. I have to watch the English Premiership, the Celtic League and the European Cup all before the November internationals begin. Often some of the domestic rugby is still continuing during these fixtures so I have double the workload. After Christmas we have the domestic cup tournaments on top of all the league games, then the Six Nations, then the finale to the domestic league and European Cup.'

The Super 12 of course is overlapping all of this. Then, as soon as the domestic season finishes with the cup finals, we have the summer tours of the British based teams. The SANZAR nations then begin build up for the Tri-Nations and after the Tri-Nations event the domestic season begins back in the UK. That isn't even taking into account the IRB and domestic sevens circuit, age-group rugby, 'A' internationals, or even World Cup and Lion years, I just can't go on, my liver is dying.'

Hodges, thirty-three next season, claims to have gained two and a half stone in weight since he bought cable TV to watch the Lions tour in 2001. 'Originally I just wanted to see the Lions, but then I got all this cool Super 12 stuff. Next thing I knew I also had ITV sport to watch the sevens, then S4C to watch the Welsh and French rugby and it's just got worse since.' Peter also has to find time to read the sport pages, his rugby magazines and range of rugby autobiographies and statistical books.

Hodges' problems have been compounded by his diet programme. His average consumption during an international game is four beers, a large bag of tortilla chips, pot of cream dip, Mars bar and a small packet of peanuts. Domestic fixtures see the beer quota remain the same but a lowering of snacks. Internationals involving his country Scotland see an increase of at least 25% on liquids and solids.

Since 2002, Hodges has not only severely gained weight but has recorded record levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. He is also prone to frequent bouts of indigestion that are commonly accompanied by mood swings.

Hodges has been determined to write to the IRB in Dublin and make his case about the problems of the modern fixture list but has not got round to it as he wants to get the Tri-Nations out of the way first.

Despite his problems Hodges has no time for complaints from the players about the fixture list: 'Look, these guys get paid large amounts of money to run around a field chasing a leather ball. I actually PAY money to sit in a room on a leather sofa and watch them. It costs me money, time and health. My nerves are on edge every time my teams play They also don't have their wife speaking too loudly on the phone and nagging them to take them shopping. And don't even get me started on the idiocy of the commentators I have to listen to. Sky Sports is like an English propaganda channel. Trust me, these guys have it easy.'

The IRB refused to comment on the matter but inside sources, however, suggested they may offer Mr Hodges a packet of batteries for his remote control in an attempt to pacify him.