New South Wales has recorded record-breaking rain levels across the week seeing homes evacuated and roads flooded however, rugby league stops for nothing.
Round 2 of the NRL Telstra premiership saw five games take place in Sydney suffering a terrible downpour of rain which saw little stoppage across the four days.
Thursday night footy kicked off with the Parramatta Eels taking on the Melbourne Storm at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta.
Saturday afternoon consisted of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Penrith Panthers also at Bankwest and Manly Sea Eagles and South Sydney Rabbitohs going head to head at Lottoland.
Sunday afternoon footy was widespread across Sydney with the Wests Tigers hosting the Sydney Roosters at Campbelltown Stadium and the Cronulla Sharks battling the Canberra Raiders at Netsrata Jubilee Stadium.
Overall, in the terrible conditions, 27,948 fans battled through the torrential rain across the 5 stadiums to watch their teams go head to head out on the field.
This is no surprise though. For some fans, they didn’t even hesitate.
Ella Kasmar, one of the diehard Manly Sea Eagles faithful, threw on her gumboots and raincoat to watch her team from the mudslide that the hill had become.
“Not going didn’t even cross my mind, really.” She said.
Kasmar, who has been a fan since birth and sat through many poor conditioned games, couldn’t help but find the comedy in the situation.
“It was a pretty funny experience. The hill, as you’d imagine, was so muddy so no one could even sit down. I saw a couple of people bring plastic shopping bags to sit on though. The amount of people I saw slip in the mud down the hill became comical,” she said.
“But with COVID protocols, we weren’t allowed to leave the hill and access the grandstands so when it poured no one was allowed to seek shelter – we just had to cop it!”
Rugby league fans have been bearing the brunt of bad weather for as long as the game can recall.
Cast your mind back to the infamous “Sharknado” game of 2015. Fans showed up wearing full snorkeling gear while the players appeared to be swimming across the field.
It’s in the blood of a rugby league fan. If their team is playing in the rain, they’re cheering in the rain.
The 2020 season scared many fans of the game. For the first time, we saw what it was like to lose the game and lose the chance to watch live footy.
Some fans were lucky enough to still attend most games once the crowds were allowed to return however, some only attended one or two and some weren’t able to attend any.
Subconsciously, the 2020 season will affect how rugby league fans view the game for years to come now.
“I think I took having the ability to choose to go for granted and now I’ve been to a game every week, and look on track to stay that way for a while,” Kasmar concluded.
Matty Bowerman, a St George Illawarra die-hard, copped the downpour in Parramatta on Thursday night with mates James “Baz” Bosnich and Alex Ward – two Bulldogs and Rabbitohs fans – because they could.
“It was an occasion for us. We bonded as mates over footy and couldn’t wait to catch up and have a laugh, regardless of the game on,” he said.
“Thursday night at Bankwest was great. It made it all the more enjoyable to be out in the wet, having a laugh with the boys.”
Elliott Richardson and his dad Sean also watched on in the wet on Thursday night, as they have many times before.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been in the rain, and it won’t be the last,” he said.
“I don’t plan on missing a game because of the weather. Literally, the only things that have stopped me in the past four seasons from going to games have been a global pandemic, my honeymoon, and the birth of my son.” Richardson said.
“Part of being a fan is turning up rain, hail or shine.”
No fan is a “better” fan just because they opted to attend the game rather than staying home but rather, it’s an indication of what this game means to the fans.
The phrase “it’s just a game” doesn’t fly for fans sitting in the sopping wet with soggy socks and dripping hair.
For so many rugby league fans, this game provides happiness, comfortability, excitement, even a sense of community and belonging.
There is no way to explain that feeling of watching the team you love play.
Sure, there can be moments of frustration and disappointment too but nothing can beat the feeling of leaving the stands after your team wins.
That’s why rugby league fans will continue to travel long distances for games. They will continue to cancel plans to attend games. They will continue to suffer through sitting in the rain.
After all, as Cronulla Sharks diehard Anthony Kaltsas simply put it.
“It’s only water.”