Wow! What a great way to be introduced to a new sport.
I was not sure about the sport of rugby when we moved here. (still not sure about Cricket)
What I knew of the sport was that it was supposedly rougher than NFL football and played without all the protective gear. When I had the opportunity to watch the NFL Superbowl here with some co-workers, I was amazed to hear that they found it slow and boring. and of course they did not understand all the rules.
Eric and I are still learning the rules to Rugby -even after watching many of the World Cup matches. In some ways it is a very simple sport yet it has a very complex set of rules. And I now have an understanding as to why the NFL games might seem slower and boring by comparison. I am happy to say I still enjoy both sports.
Even before we began to try and learn about rugby, the tickets for the Rugby World Cup had gone on sale and we thought - "hey, it's here in our own backyard and who knows when we might ever get another chance to see something like this" - so we decided to buy tickets to a game. We would have liked to have seen the All Blacks play, but the tickets were quite pricey starting at about $300.00 each. At the time we thought that was a lot of money to watch a sport we had no clue about. In hindsight we probably should have splurged. Anyway, we decided to see the USA team play against Australia. (Didn't even know the US had a team) Not being a match with the All Blacks, the tickets were much more reasonable and we figured the crowd would be fun because they too would be routing for whoever played against the Aussies.
It turned out to be quite the slaughter. The US team while we are told they played quite well, were no match for the caliber of the "true" Rugby teams. But we had a fabulous time and there was great US support throughout the stadium. Much the way the kids in the US grow up throwing a baseball or football around from the wee ages of 3 and 4, here and where Rugby is king, the kids are playing Rugby very early and I believe that is what makes them so much better.
We also watched many of the other matches on television and saw some remarkable rugby played. When played well there is a speed and fluidity to the game as well as some amazing passing and maneuvering. It can be quite beautiful to watch. The All Blacks reminded me of the Harlem Globetrotters on several occasions. I was also amazed - being the American that I am, that there was not an ambulance parked on the field and that when there were injuries, and THERE WERE injuries, the "medics" would run out on the field to tend to a player while the game continued on around them. There are no time outs for injuries. I was also told by one fan that there is no "Mercy" in Rugby either.
The victory is made even sweeter by the fact that in working on the Rugby Challenge video game over the last year I was able to meet and work with several of the All Black Players, including Aaron Cruden. Eric even photographed Andrew Hore.
Eric and I also found it surprising that after the big win last night there were no baseball style hats brought out or champion t-shirts handed to the players. Even now, the day after, the websites which "will" have some championship apparel have still not posted images. Another reminder that we are in a country that is not focused on consumerism.
By the way, one of our earlier blog entires talked about the controversial "Wellywood" sign that was being proposed. I am not sure it will get stopped at this point even though most are opposed to it. For the Rugby World Cup the space was utilized to say "All Blacks" and while I still do not support any signage on the hillside, I think that it is better used to support the All Blacks then Wellywood.
It is truly a great time to be here in New Zealand!
If you get the opportunity to watch the All Blacks play, we highly recommend it.
Stacy & Eric