I'm certain the parting shot from DH must have wafted across the park before getting up Jeff Wilson's nose!
Glad that AT left a bit of mystery about the event – leaves me something to rant about. In fact I will restrict myself to a few topics, as I already have a Masters in Applied Rugby Boring and one Thesis is more than enough!
The Park – If you were a visitor to our fair city last weekend you could be forgiven for thinking that we had yet to escape the clutches of winter. Well actually that was our winter, 24 hours of continuous stormy rain! Not just your common garden heavy rain either, this was swirling surround-sound rain (sounds like it is hitting all sides of the house at once).
But then the weather cleared for most of the game, and although it was wet enough, the turf was still fairly solid, with surface water whipping up like they were playing on a flash hockey pitch!
Organisation – There must have been a hell of a lot of committee meetings gone into this match as it was better organised than John Hart's sock drawer!
Well of course the match itself doesn't come into it, I mean the entertainment before and after, and the presentations.
In fact the only guy who hadn't read his instruction memo was the boss of Air NZ. But thankfully he made a fatal mistake in the first quarter of his speech, he started to acknowledge the departing Cantabrians.
As soon as he mentioned Todd Blackadder, the crowd started chanting "Toddy!" and in the confusion, the Air NZ guy made the error of thinking that he should stop until we quietened down (of course he should have realised two things: 1) A public address system is made to be heard over crowd noise, 2) He was really talking to the TV audience, not us).
This pause, Toddy thought was his cue to come up on the stage, so the short arse… sorry Air NZ guy, decided not to read the other 12 pages of his speech and handed the mic to Todd.
Following the presentations, it was time for "Larry the Lamb" to bravely reveal his identity to the crowd and sing a stirring version of the Blackadder theme song – Todd Blackadder that is. I thought at first that this was an impromptu event, but then I saw the words being shown on the big screen (just as the National Anthem had been).
This was so well set up that Toddy couldn't do anything but stand there and look bashful. This was much the way he looked at the start of the game when the team didn't run out of the tunnel behind him, leaving him with no-one to pass the ball to, and obviously thinking – "Oh hell... not again!"
This last point is easier for the home team to organise, but did you notice that every member of the squad, plus a few more, got medals? DH was amazed to see his cousin up on the stage, he hadn't even been selected for the bench since he started for the warm-up matches. That's got to be the sign of a fantastic team environment!
Mascots – its been said before… but "Larry the Lamb" is the stupidest mascot in the history of organised sport! I don’t care about what it does to the salary cap, the CRFU need to buy Rambo off the Canterbury Rams. Surely they could at least work out a time-share agreement.
Shaq, the Otago mascot (Black Panther) is superb. At one stage there was a great uproar from the crowd to our right. We looked over expecting to see an off the ball punch-up, to see Shaq pulling his shorts back up! He then made the most of this attention by pulling a couple of prat falls over the advertising hordings.
Later as Larry was doing one of his staunch (for a bloody lamb!) "double teapot" poses, Shaq was behind him doing shadow jump kicks at the back of his head!
The game - The only thing I want to mention about the game itself is an incident we had a great view of: Justin Marshal shrugging off Byron Kelleher's tackle and fending Tony Brown just under the chin! It was a great moment, and a top photo opportunity for a mouth guard advertisement!
The night was such a heady occasion, and if you didn't make it to the game (like the guy from Wellington beside me) then you missed out big-time!