Cheerleaders axed at Souths
By Dean Ritchie and Chris Charnock
February 09, 2007
SOUTH Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe last night revealed his club had discarded its cheerleaders this season because they made male fans feel uncomfortable.
The Hollywood star also said his wife, Danielle Spencer, supported the club's controversial move.
Souths will this season replace cheerleaders with a drumming band during NRL home matches.
"Our focus is to re-establish rugby league and women," Crowe said.
"The focus on game day should be a positive experience for the crowd.
"We feel they (cheerleaders) made a lot of people uncomfortable.
"We examined game day and wanted to contemporise and make the focus football.
"We felt we didn't need cheerleaders and would like them replaced by a group of drummers, male and female.
"We've talked to a lot of people and everyone sees it as being progressive.
"The whole idea of percussion will be exciting for the crowd."
Crowe said his club's game day producer Dein Perry had canvassed the opinions of fans before making the decision to sack the cheer-squad.
Asked if other clubs could follow Souths initiative, Crowe said: "When they see how exciting this is, there will be a big call for it.
"We found it hard to work out a positive about it. There was a grey area to it.
"It makes women uncomfortable and it makes blokes who take their son to the football also uncomfortable.
"But we are thankful for the time and effort the girls put in and some of them probably will be disappointed."
Crowe's stance was supported by Spencer, who liked the idea of men and women performing together in the drum band.
"She likes the fact that game day entertainment will be multi-sex. She likes that aspect," Crowe said.
"The positive response we've got particularly from women like my wife when they heard this was happening makes it a little easier for them to go to the game and simply enjoy the actual sport.
But two of Souths cheerleaders yesterday said they were disappointed not to be dancing this year.
"We were employed by Souths as professional dancers and our role as cheerleaders was simply to add glamour to the image of the NRL in terms of marketing," Ashleigh Francis said.
"Children at the games were constantly approaching us and asking us for autographs and photos and little girls would even ask us if they were old enough to be cheergirls too."
Another Souths cheerleader, who did not want to be named, said: "How would we make people feel uncomfortable? The aim is for us just to enjoy ourselves and entertain the fans with the sport."