For Stephen's birthday Jan put me in charge of getting us to an All Blacks game whenever they managed to make their way to Christchurch. Last Saturday night, the men in black were in town and they were playing the Aussies in the TriNations Cup series (kind of like the Stanley Cup for Rugby Union - but with only three teams; South African Springboks, Australian Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks).
After a quick dinner of pizza (at home) and beer (at the local pub) Stephen, myself and our neighbour biked on down to the stadium. The organizers were trialling their road closures for the Rugby World Cup being hosted here next year, so all the roads within 2-3 blocks of the stadium were blocked off for cars and the streets were absolutely packed with people making their way on foot. We slowly wound our way through them and parked our bikes in front of the stadium gates. The crowd seemed to increase in volume as you approached the stadium, but we pushed our way into it and eventually streamed up the stairs and into the newly completed concrete stands.
Our seats were one step above the cheapest. This meant we were neither sitting right at midfield under cover, but nor were we crammed into the stands at either end of the field incapable of seeing what exactly was happening as the teams ran back and forth across the field. In fact we were pretty well placed in the first half to witness a couple of trys by the All Blacks into the Wallabies end.
It was fun to look around at all the people around us. Across the stadium on the opposite stand there was a little island of yellow (Wallabie colours) drifting in a sea of black and silver. On our side there were little isolated dots of yellow, but mostly it was black . . . . and loud. There was a group a few seats down from us draped in the New Zealand flag with faces painted in black and white screaming as if their lives depended on it. In front of us were a group of older guys full of sarcasm and trash talking for the two Aussies sitting next to them (who seemed to hold their own well enough). Towards the end of the second half, both groups were folding paper airplanes and seeing who could get theirs onto the field of play (the second half of the game was not all that exciting). And behind us was a man and his 6 year-old son, who could have been a rugby commentator. In fact, he was for me.
Despite a lousy forecast the rain was light and there was no wind, so our wool blanket and blue tarp stayed folded and tucked into our bag. Unlike our previous rugby experience when we were drenched and frozen to our seats while watching the New Zealand Warriors (Rugby League) pound some Australian team into the ground. This evening in comparison was pleasant and enjoyable. The game itself was somewhat unexciting though and the All Blacks were unable to achieve the five trys they needed to win the TriNations Cup that night. They're still well in the lead, but we'll just have to wait and see how Australia plays against South Africa in the following weeks.