Last Friday night, rugby league returned to the SCG, with over 24,000 watching South Sydney beat the Sydney Roosters.
With the SFS not in use, the Sydney Roosters play nine games at the famous ground. It’s a far greater option than the cavernous Homebush (though South Sydney and Canterbury will still play their home games there).
There’s nothing wrong with ANZ Stadium, as long as it’s used properly: guaranteed sell outs (or near sell outs) like Origin, the finals and the grand final are perfect for an 80,000 stadium. Having 10,000 at a regular NRL game is more depressing than a New Year’s Eve party without a clock.
After a horrifying off season, the NRL needs some romance, be it retro jerseys (thank you NZ Warriors, Canberra and Manly), rumours of Tina Turner returning, or the Roosters at the SCG again.
It’s a busy year for the SCG, with the Roosters, Sydney Swans and NSW Waratahs sharing the ground. There’s been some criticism of the turf quality, causing 3,000 square metres to be replaced after the Waratahs v Qld Reds Super Rugby game.
A return to the SCG evokes memories of a simpler time. From 1954 to 1987, the SCG was the home of the NSWRL grand final. It’s also a lot more convenient than Homebush: the SCG is close to the Fox Studios Entertainment Quarter, with a huge cinema, shops, eateries and the Rugby League Museum. A short walk down Cleveland St leads to The Bat and Ball Hotel, Bar Cleveland and a host of multicultural restaurants. Regular buses are only 10 minutes away from Sydney’s CBD. Of course, the Sydney Football Stadium had the exact same convenience, but the SCG has the romantic mixture of modernity mixed with old fashioned charm.
With the renovated SFS a few years away, hopefully the Roosters fans will embrace the SCG as their temporary new home for the good of the game.