'No-one goes to see the cheerleaders, they go to see the game' - backlash over Blues using dancers for pre-match entertainment

Part of the modern match-day experience, or an old-fashioned custom that has no place in 2017?

The Blues brought back cheerleaders for their match at the weekend, but some are saying society has moved on. Source: Breakfast

Auckland-based Super Rugby franchise the Blues sparked debate by bringing back cheerleaders for their match against Bulls in Albany on Saturday.

That prompted NZ Herald rugby writer Gregor Paul to ask why after a shocking year off the field for rugby in 2016, "there will be girls in skimpy outfits dancing for the pleasure of a mostly male crowd?"

Not all agreed, however, with people pointing to the skill and athleticism shown by the (mostly) women who danced at the matches.

A non-scientific poll on the Breakfast show Facebook page revealed opinion was divided, with 55 per cent of the 581 people who voted indicating they believed cheerleading at rugby matches was outdated.

There was also plenty of debate on the Breakfast show, with Rob writing in to tell Jack Tame and Hilary Barry that cheerleading was a "load of old crock".

"So old men can leer at young women, not the Kiwi culture I know and love."

Another correspondent said it was an American custom that had no place here.

"No-one goes to see the cheerleaders, they go to see the game."

Many commenting on Facebook, however, said the troupe at the rugby were dancing, not cheerleading, as the latter was a recognised sport.

'If girls want to cheer then let them' 

Whatever their designation, many said they had no problem with the sideline entertainment.

"Oh come on everybody if the girls want to cheer then let them," said Trudy.

"I think we are all big enough to just enjoy it or opt not to watch it."

In response to Paul's column, the Super Rugby franchise said: "The Blues are in the sport and entertainment industry and must look for wider appeal than only the traditional rugby follower as our region becomes more diverse in make-up".

They added the the group involved, Baxter Dance, did not have a single male audition for a place on the squad, but was looking to incorporate them in the future.