The Best in Show

This weekend I went to the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby game. I had purchased my tickets several months in advance, as their games are in high demand, and the Dunedin stadium doesn’t seat as many as a typical American sports venue. I purchased the cheapest tickets available, and was seated in what’s known as The Zoo. It’s where mostly University students sit, due to the fact that they are the cheapest tickets.

As game day rolled around, there were tons of people flocking the streets around town, as many people had come in from all over the country to see the All-Blacks take on Australia. I went into the game expecting a large margin of victory. The All-Blacks are considered the best rugby team in the world, coming off of a World Cup win, and the Wallabies had recently lost to the All-Blacks in Australia the month before.

Upon entering the stadium, I went to the merchandise booth and purchased the All-Blacks practice/warm-up jersey that I had been eyeing since I arrived in New Zealand. I went to my seat in the end zone on the home side, and was surrounded by a cheering crowd as the players warmed up for the game.

The game began after a wonderful rendition of the New Zealand National Anthem (which is half Maori and half English). The crowd was cheering loudly as Australia scored the first points of the game on a free kick (I’ll spare you trying to explain the rules of rugby, as I am still learning myself). During the game I would repeatedly turn to the elderly gentleman to my left to ask questions about the rules, or why people would cheer/boo at random points in the action. One of the boos, as I learned from the kind soul next to me, were directed at a Wallabies player who had become hated by the home crowd because he was born in New Zealand but had moved to Australia and is now playing for them. He also had apparently laid a cheap-shot on a All-Blacks player the year before.

The home team soon had taken a commanding lead thanks to a couple of dazzling passing plays. There were many hard hits throughout the game, as well as some fantastic dekes. The crowd was into the game from the get-go, and there was an awesome wave that rocked the stadium for three laps.

We went home with a victory, and the downtown area was packed and loud until the wee hours of the morning. I was very excited with the wonderful experience I had had that day, knowing I had gotten the privilege to see the best rugby team in the world.

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