When the Barbour brigade’s biggest cheer is for an ex-footballer, things are not going well

A survey of English supermarkets once labelled the standard-issue Waitrose couple as “Rupert and Felicity” and their Lidl counterparts as “Wayne and Leanne”. The average Twickenham crowd at an England game tends to lend itself to the same brutally succinct social profiling. “Twickenham Man” might conveniently be caricatured by his fondness for waxed Barbour, his gently braying mother-country superiority , and his imperviousness to anything so vulgar as myopic tribalism.

But the accusation this autumn is that when it comes to public displays of raw emotion he is just a little sedate. For 40 minutes of England’s match against Australia he observed the disjointed spectacle with lethargy. The drubbing of Argentina seemed,briefly, to leave him more pleasantly soothed.Still the atmosphere was not exactly what you would call febrile. The greatest cheer of a turgid second half was reserved for the sight on the giant screen of David Beckham and his three sons. At least he had the grace to look self-conscious about drawing a lustier reception than England’s players, but there were few on-pitch marvels .

An afternoon at Twickenham for those other than Beckham can be a near-prohibitive expense when even modest seats are priced at £80.but then the Twickenham experience has also become alienatingly corporate in places. Even the message “Great Kick” imparted to Owen Farrell came courtesy of O2.

Somewhere in rugby’s recent revolution the suits have acquired primacy over the true supporters.


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