Canberra: Australian rugby fans have expressed their disappointment at a decision by Rugby World Cup organisers to schedule the start of the final in London at unsociable times for southern hemisphere viewers. The final, featuring both Australia and New Zealand, is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. GMT on Saturday — or 3 a.m. Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) on Sunday morning — with organisers on Thursday citing “operational reasons” for the mid-afternoon start, reports Xinhua.
But Australian fans have taken their dismay to social media and beyond, with one upset fan creating an online petition to convince the organisers to cater to the massive potential audience on the other side of the world. The petition slams the start time, saying that as the two competing teams, fans in both New Zealand and Australia have been forgotten. “The Wallabies are playing the All Blacks in the World Cup Final but the kick off will be at 3 a.m. AEDT,” the Change.org petition reads.
“After weeks of little sleep with games in the middle of the night, it’s only fair the governing body listen to the rugby global powerhouse of the southern hemisphere and push it back to a more suitable viewing time for fans of the competing teams.”
Australia’s east coast is home to its three largest cities in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and all of those have a significant rugby union following. Meanwhile All Blacks fans in New Zealand will have to wake up at 5 a.m. to see their team play, while the match will begin at midnight for Australian fans on the west coast.
England Rugby has defended its decision, saying that due to the possibility of extra time, the length of the presentations and factoring in safe homeward journeys for fans attending the final, the game had to be scheduled with the UK in mind instead of catering to Australian and New Zealand supporters. The Rugby World Cup final is to be played by Australia and New Zealand at the Twickenham Stadium in London.