Sunday, October 16, 2011

A review of the game, from one who does not know much about rugby.

So, for those who do not know, the All Blacks beat the Wallabies in the International Tournament of the Funny-shaped Ball this morning/yesterday. I am Kiwi, so yay! Kind of felt for the Aussies though...

Last week I'd planned to get up early and go to the game, but rugby really doesn't seem as important at ten past seven on Sunday morning, so instead I watched it on NZ tv via Skype. For the first half of the match, the camera contrast wasn't very good, and all I could see of the Argentinians was white blobs, but then we got that sorted out and all was well.

This morning atten past seven, rugby still didn't seem particularly important, but it was a sunny day outside and it was a big game so I got up and ate breakfast on the way to the tube. I didn't want to go back to the pub I went to for the France game, because it is first and foremost an Aussie pub and whichever way the game went, it could have been awkward. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be that many Kiwi pubs in London, but I found one on Google and figured out the tube route.

And then the Circle and District lines were closed.

So I walked and walked (not that far, but still) and finally found the address, but it had been taken over by a Bavarian Beer Haus and was unlikely to be playing rugby at 8.30 in the morning.

By this time I'd missed the haka (8.25, I reckoned) and the 8.30 kick-off, but I was determined to find somewhere before half time. Where? Where? Where was there a pub that would be playing the rugby, and peopled mostly by New Zealanders?

And then I remembered the Sports bar at the New Zealand High Commission (embassy). Yes, there is a Sports Bar at the New Zealand High Commission. Duh. What else would you have at a High Commission?

I caught a bus, was proud of my London navigation skills, and found the Sports Bar. It was full of Kiwis, apart from a few Aussies wearing as much Australian support merchandise as they could. And, low and behold, the kick-off wasn't until 9! I had missed nothing!

I found a spot (a lot easier than it had been at the pub in Shepherd's Bush). There were still a lot of people, but the crowd was more civilised, many sitting at cafe tables or on the floor in front of the screen rather than pressed in on every side. The haka was performed. The whistle blew. A Wallaby kicked the ball off the field. The bar roared.

For the next few minutes, the game was a comedy. The Wallabies were thrown by the first bad pass, and the All Blacks danced around them, through them, as they fumbled the ball and scattered. They came back a bit later, but by that time the All Blacks had made a most awesome try (ball flying from person to person, almost off the field, no! throw back, caught, OVER THE LINE!) and a drop kick goal. There was no coming back.

The second half was a mess of rucks and penalties and I got a bit distracted by other things (hmm, they have American football posters up. They must show American football too. Why is that girl wearing a cheerleading uniform? Oh, she's a waitress. Again, why is that girl wearing a cheerleading uniform?), but managed to keep my mind on the game most of the time. I'm not much good at figuring out why a penalty is a penalty, and it was quite helpful to know who the penalty was for by the sounds of the crowd. It seems, at least in this bar, Kiwis roar and whoo, and Aussies say 'yesss!'. I considered whether this meant Aussies were more literary than Kiwis. Surely not.

The Aussie supporters were mostly quiet, except when they hissed 'yes!' or yelled 'go Cooper!'.  The Wallabies didn't manage to get any tries, but the All Blacks found another one and soon it was almost over. The coach started to play Musical All Blacks (a game where they swap people round with ten minutes to go... eight minutes to go... five minutes to go... minus 30 seconds to go... Piri Weepu went off, came on for a few minutes, and went off again). And then we'd won!

It would have been nice if the Wallabies got a try. But it was a good game in any case (in my opinion. And, no I don't know much about rugby).

Now it's just France to go...

Edited to add: Oh, all right, there was only one try. I may have made up the second one. I believed it when I wrote it....

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