Anyway, how Jules managed to charm the missus into letting us stay, I'll never know. I sort of imagine it going something like this: Jules: "Oh, BTW dear, I'm just off to pick up a couple of rugby fans that I met in a pub in Auckland once" Missus: "Thats nice dear".
I tell ya, he must have some way with the ladies that I've yet to learn. It must be the fancy hairdo.
For those of you that are confused at this point, I’d better point out that Jules is not a girl.
The major pre-game warmup occurred on Friday night when we went and watched the Tall Blacks take on Hungary at basketball. Although the game was quite tight in the first half the Talls Blacks pulled away for a comfortable victory in the end 110-88. This was kind of what we were hoping for from the rugby the next night, the big guys laying the foundation for the little guys to provide some long range magic. Best of luck for the world champs guys.
Well, there was a quota of 6 tickets for the game, and with 3 being used for the touring party that meant only 3 for the local rugbyheads. SG obviously lost the fist fights or whatever method they used to choose the unlucky one and I'm not sure whether he was then banished to yonder mountains, or ran away sulking. Either way, he was off on a walkabout for the weekend and will have no further part in this little story once he had delivered the bung.
Well Saturday came along and, damn!, those old Bledisloe games from the 80's were a treat. All day Bledisloe on the Rugby Channel! What more could a guy ask for! The weather looked like it was going to be fine after all....the sun even appeared for a while. With that anomaly out of the way, the weather set into the usual pattern of rain, followed by a gust of wet wind, before it was just raining again. And I’d have to agree with Dark Horse here…. I don’t know how Canterbury fans manage to survive an entire Super 12 or NPC season with local conditions like that.
The party of Jules, DH, AT, looseunit, Dark Horse and I made the trek through the wind and rain to the brand new stand at Jade Stadium. Impressive looking beast. Sort of a mix between the new Eden Park stand and the lonely stand at Albany. The first thing that amazed me was how open the ground seemed compared to the garden of Eden. Curious! Almost as curious as the guys who started running around half naked in the 4 degree temperatures. Obviously locals! No I'm not referring to DH & AT... they just kept telling us how warm it was while they shivered with the rest of us. Their bright red faces at the end may have just given the game away though.
When the teams ran onto the field it was obvious that the AB team was made up of locals - no tracksuits for these hard bastards. Dougie and Cullen obviously didn't want to lose face and so followed the rest.
I thought the booing of the Aussie national anthem was pretty poor form. You don't boo a nation's song for gods sake, and I'd be pretty pissed off if I saw someone boo the NZ anthem, so marks down on the fans for that. Positive marks for the kiwi national anthem though... and it finally seems as if some people are even learning the Maori part - good on 'em!
The Haka was pretty average, and I really think that Caleb leading it just seems wrong. He may be the only "black man" on the field, but it just doesn't seem right for the little guy to lead the Haka... and thats ignoring the fact that I don't think he should be wearing a black jersey.
The little guys who change the pixels inside the big screen didn’t last very long in the cold and piked after a couple of minutes. Surely the Canterbury union can pay for heaters for the little guys. They must have heaps of money lying around after the Super 12. They managed to resuscitate some of the guys mid way through the game so we did get to see some of the action happening at the other end of the ground….. even if it was on a small-big screen.
Theres not really much to say about the game really. Its interesting to see the different reactions and ratings of the players in the media. eg: Caleb - Sunday Star says "he had a blinder", NZOOM says "3.5/10 - fumbled and almost lost us the game".
Some of the best entertainment was provided by the guys who decided to test out the cushioning qualities of the concrete at the bottom of the slippery stairs. “Yes I’m okay” … stagger, stagger … “Which ways the beer stall?” … stagger, stagger…
Personally, not a great game to remember, but a great time was had. It evens out the experience of being at the Sydney 2000 Game which was a blinder. Which beings me to another point. The ABs won this game, and the last game against the Wobblies that we won was in Sydney 2000 when looseunit and I were on tour there. We're obviously the good luck charm and the NZRFU better get off its arse and get us over to Sydney to ensure that the Bledisloe and tri nations come back where they belong. I urge all NZ supporters to write to the NZRFU to plead the case.
It just makes sense!!