THE managing director of London Welsh has apologised to fans following “horrendous” traffic problems at their first game in Oxford, and has pledged to sort them out.
A crowd of 6,850 turned up at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium for the 38-13 defeat to Leicester Tigers on Sunday, but the club has admitted traffic congestion and parking were major problems.
Mr Taylor told the Oxford Mail that the club will now review its stewarding system and hopes to organise a shuttle bus to help alleviate problems. He said: “It obviously caught us a bit by surprise.
“We thought it would be the least of our problems because there are so many parking spaces available.
“We had the precaution of having someone monitor it.
“We used the same arrangements as Oxford United Football Club use.
“It obviously didn’t work. We can improve the stewarding and we want to process the cars twice as quickly as they are at the moment.”
As fans of both teams arrived at Oxford railway station, there were no visible signs or information boards directing them to the Kassam Stadium. Mr Taylor said the club is in discussions to organise a shuttle service for fans. Road signs directing fans may be also considered.
Mr Taylor added: “We realise it is a massive problem and we are working on a plan to make sure it won’t happen again.
“Apologies to anybody caught up in it.”
Matt Todd, treasurer of the Oxford Harlequins, was one of the rugby fans caught up on the day. He said: “The traffic was horrendous so I went round the back roads.
“I ended up going through Blackbird Leys and parking there and we were 15 minutes late in the end.
“We came from the southern bypass and there was traffic streaming out of Oxford.”
A number of supporters driving in found it easier to simply abandon their car and walk to the stadium. London Welsh fan Lyn Davies, from Beckley, said: “We were driving along and everybody was parking, so we thought there was no point in going further.
“We parked about 20 minutes walk away and we got to the game about 10 minutes before the game started, which was fine.
“People who left it a bit late would have had a long way to walk.”
It wasn’t just rugby fans who were affected by the traffic delays. Royal Cars employee Ajaz Hussain, from Wood Farm, attended a wedding at the stadium at the same time at the game.
He said: “The traffic was a nightmare. People were delayed by an hour. But the wedding was fine.”
He added that taxis transporting fans were also stuck in the jam. The club received about 20 complaints about traffic from supporters following the club’s Aviva Premiership debut.
Tonight’s big-match preview for London Welsh’s match away to Harlequins. See sport