I have never been into sports. I never understood the appeal, and anytime I tried to watch American sports (football, soccer, baseball, basketball), I was bored to tears. I found them, on the whole, to be unnecessarily dragged out and lacking in action. American Football in particular has more stopping and debating (not to mention commercial breaks!) than play. The one time I saw any live sporting event not dealing with horses was when my Mom and Aunt brought me to the local baseball game, and, full disclosure here, I went hoping to score a brat from the brat cannon (True story – I did. And. It. Was. Epic. Ask me about it in person – I’ll re-enact it for you). But, if I recall correctly, we even left from there early as it just kept going and going. So, to sum up, sports are not my thing.
Until now. Enter: Rugby. Friends, let me tell you – this game is AWESOME! The national sport of New Zealand, I of course had heard of it and had in mind to catch a game just to educate myself but didn’t think it would be much different than any other sports game. Oh, how happy I was to be proven wrong! Not only are there NO commercial breaks (WAH?!) but it’s basically non-stop action for 80 minutes. And even if you’ve never seen the game or know the rules, it’s pretty easy to follow, which makes for exciting viewing. They also have cool terms like Ruck, Scrum, and Sin Bin. And, as we’re in NZ, the Haka – a Maori ceremonial war dance used to intimidate the enemy.
[Full disclosure, I just got sucked in to a 20 minute Youtube binge of Hakas. I highly recommend it. Also, Game of Thrones actor Jason Mamoa did a Haka as his audition for Khal Drogo. And just, go YouTube Haka. You’ll thank me.]
The first game I watched was last week – the second Test (in a series of 3) between the NZ All Blacks and British and Irish Lions, and this one took place in Wellington. As tickets were $450 (not to mention it was pouring rain), I opted to watch at a pub, instead. [For reference, this line up of All Blacks vs Lions only happens once every 12 years – as every 4yrs the Lions tour to different countries (South Africa, Australia, and NZ). In their 129yr history, the Lions have only defeated the All Blacks in 1 Tour (1971). The Lions were desperate to win, and the All Blacks were desperate to keep their record on home turf. And for two very evenly matched teams, it made for exciting play!]
The All Blacks trounced the Lions in the first Test in Auckland 30-15 (boy I wish I’d seen that!). The Lions then made a fierce comeback in the second Test and squeaked out a 24–21 victory. It was crazy to see how every time the ABs scored, the Lions became maniacs and tied the game up right after. If it hadn’t’ve been for the ABs losing two of their players to Red Card penalties (extreme offenses that kick you out of the game) and their crap penalty kicking, I’m not sure the Lions would’ve pulled it off.
As you can imagine, tensions were fever pitch leading into the 3rd and final Test. I popped down to Hotel Bristol to watch with a mate and this match was even more exciting than last week’s! There were some fantastic runs all the way down the field, slide in scores, and exciting rucks and scrums. Take a look at the Test 3 highlights:
I yelled myself hoarse cheering – along with the pub crowd and the roars of the Auckland fans in the stadium coming through the speakers. It was a bit anti-climactic, then, when the Test ended in a Tie!!! They only did about 3 minutes of overtime before calling it – what the wah??! So, that was a bit disappointing, but maybe the best outcome all around.
(No – that’s a lie. All Blacks should have won. If it wasn’t, again, for their terrible penalty kicking skills, they totally would have.)