Saturday, June 21, 2008


We went to see the rugby last night- my first rugby match ever! =) It was New Zealand playing England at AMI Stadium here in Christchurch. (For those of you who don't know, New Zealand's national team, the All Blacks, are arguably the best team in the world. I get the impression that all of the other teams are really scared of them. If you saw how big some of those dudes are, you'd probably be scared of them, too.) It was freezing, but I was wearing so many layers of fleece I couldn't bend my arms, so I was pretty comfy. Things started out a little weird- there was a marching band and fireworks and a couple of people in military uniforms riding around in a jeep and singing songs we couldn't really understand- it was strange. But then came the choir to sing the national anthems, which were great, and then the haka, the traditional Maori dance they perform at the beginning of each match. I love the haka! It's a ceremonial dance to mentally prepare the team for the match. The other team usually stands there and tries to look bored or unaffected even though they're more likely shaking in their rugby boots! It was really cool to see it live! (Leave it to me to be most impressed by the dancing portion of a sporting evening!) Anyhow, the game itself was excellent. =) New Zealand pretty much trounced England- the final score was 44-12, which didn't really surprise anyone. In fact, I don't think any of the English fans even noticed- they all continued to drunkenly sing really loud, out-of-tune songs (as they are wont to do) in the streets after the match was over. (They love to sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. What's that all about anyway?) It was a little bit hard to tell what was happening in the match at times without the commentators (even when there are commentators I sometimes don't get it!) so Gordon had to explain a lot of what was going on. I also took a few cues from the French guy sitting right behind us- any time something went wrong for the All Blacks he would say "Oh la la!" really loud and Frenchily. There were a few more Frenchies around- I overheard at least a couple of others. They really love the ruggers in France, especially the All Blacks! I heard somewhere that they actually sell more All Blacks merchandise in France than anywhere else in the world. So, who are my favourites, you ask? Well, my long-time favourite is Rodney So'oialo (seen above with Joe Rokocoko in a picture I borrowed from apdz07 on flickr. He's the one with the dreads). He is a large, muscley Samoan guy who has great hair that flops around while he crushes his opponents. Then there's everyone's favourite, Dan Carter, who looks quite a bit like Superman and who models underwear in his spare time. Here he is on the right looking very superheroic. =) My new favourite, though, is cute Ma'a Nonu (below)- you've gotta admire his skills and his awesome neon dreads and tattoos! Here he is scoring a try in last night's match. (You can watch videos of Ma'a in action with fantastic soundtrack music by Lovage here and by Wax Tailor here.) At the end of the match we watched as all of the players shook hands and congratulated each other in a very sportsmanlike way. Then some of the All Blacks signed autographs for people and took pictures with kids in the crowd. =) They seem like very nice guys, despite looking like large, angry warriors! I was really impressed by their willingness to interact with the fans and media and to be so accommodating after 80 minutes of running and getting smashed around and all of that. =) It was a great kiwi experience! =) Now that I can officially call myself a fan, I can't wait to see the match against South Africa in a couple of weeks! =) Go AB's! =)

1 comment:

Barbara said...

The Haka is cool! (I watched the videos) Unfortunately, the still picture does not do it justice...makes it look like they're doing a cross between the Macarena and the Chicken Dance.

I am amazed those guys live through an entire game! No padding..OUCH!