Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: Rugby World Cup stories

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  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    So who would you like to run the country Steve?

    Labour.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4454 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Irvine,

    OK – I’ve written a blog post entry for this competition, a little yarn about a night out me and me and some mates had at the 1999 world cup:

    "We ended up in the Leeds equivalent of a Lone Star, thoughtfully offering a two-for-one happy hour, where more accumulation ensued. From there it was on to a dodgy nightclub, an upstairs, no-windowed affair. Our group was busy being loud and witty and making friends with the locals, when we noticed a group of improbably wide-shouldered guys in matching polo shirts and pleated pants making their way in – it was only the bloody All Blacks! Imagine their surprise, having chosen accommodation away from Huddersfield, and entering a wee nightclub where the boys could unwind safe from the pressures of a rugby mad public, only to see us in our All Black gears and slurry-voiced charm."

    It’s too long to all post here – but you can read the whole thing over at my blog. There’s pictures and everything.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 241 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Graham,

    Date: late October 1999
    Where: San Mateo, California

    I was on a training course in San Mateo and met a New Yorker who knew a bit about rugby – i.e. he knew who the All Blacks were and that they were playing France in the semi-final of the RWC. He also worked with a Frenchman, so gratefully accepted my offer of my All Blacks cap so he would wind him up about the forthcoming semi-final defeat.

    After the course I stayed on for the weekend, and on Sunday morning (local time) I found an internet site that gave text updates of the NZ v France semi-final. I went for breakfast at half-time in the knowledge that the ABs berth in the final was assured…

    I’m not sure what did happen to my cap, but I guess the Frenchman had the last laugh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 195 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    This is not a competition entry, just the best place to relate my first experiences at a RWC match. Yesterday I went to see Fiji vs Samoa, taking my Dad as his birthday present, and my wife wanted to come to her first game too. At least 20 other people I know were there too. It turned out Russell and Fiona were going too, and he invited us for a spot of lunch first, with some friends. Excellent start to the afternoon, thanks very much Russ & Fi. Nice to meet Toby and Matt too.

    I understand recordari was in attendance, somewhere in the near capacity crowd.

    After Russell's we drove to our planned parking spot in Grey Lynn, had another drink with other friends who were going, and walked to the stadium. This took about 20 minutes, from door to entrance gate. The entry was effortless, 1 minute and we were through. The climb to our seat had us a bit short of breath though, we were right at the top of the southern stand, so it wasn't too far short of the elevation gain climbing one of the local mountains.

    I was well impressed by the stadium, in the end, the facilities scaled nicely. It felt a lot bigger than I know it was. Perhaps that was the crowd, who were in good spirits. Crowd watching is one of the main points of going to live games, and there was no shortage. I kind of expected it to be like a walk through a Onehunga mall, but it seemed that the game had wide appeal, and the crowd was simply a typical NZ mob. I was surprised initially by the large number of Indians who were clearly fans, until I realized DER, of course, half of Fijians have that ancestry. It was a bit like a flashback to the night before at a birthday party of a friend, who is of Chinese descent. A room full of Chinese looking people, all glued to the TV for the Haka, and cracking jokes and making tips that spoke of high levels of rugby literacy, and touting Kiwi drawls, every one of them. Guys named Trevor, Gary, and other Kiwi classics. No Bruces, though, Chinese don't seem to do Bruce any more, sensibly opting to avoid teasing.

    The crowd went wild when the war dances began. It was hard to say who won - Fiji definitely gets points for timing the start perfectly, just as the Samoan one was about to hit high gear. But there was a fierce confidence about the Samoan show that presaged the game itself.

    It was a bit of a pity (but not unexpected) that the game ended up so one-sided. But underdog support seems to be endemic in NZ, so after Samoa seized a massive lead, I heard several people around me switching their cheers, one guy openly said so, and it seemed that the excitement was highest whenever Fiji got the ball in the second half. At their try, the stand I was in erupted - even the girls with the blue wigs for the Samoan flag were cheering it. It was an interesting game nonetheless, with plenty of running. I expect the wet conditions were responsible for the high number of handling errors that ended quite a few exciting phases of intense mauling and strong running play.

    One thing that mystified me is the excitement the crowd gets at the Mexican trumpets before every kick-off, and the noticeable number of people dressed as banditos. I can only guess that they are real fans of the Mexican wave, two of which did complete circuits, and there were about a dozen abortive starts I could see all around the stadium.

    Afterward, we got out of the stadium about as fast as we'd got in and forged through the thronging streets homeward. There was not the least unpleasantness anywhere to be seen - I have a feeling most people were in my situation, simply enjoying the rare opportunity to watch a World Cup game involving teams they have supported for years, in their home town, and no result could dampen that enjoyment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I *love* those trumpets. But I couldn't tell you why either.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3583 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Danielle,

    +1. I keep expecting a cartoon mouse in a racing helmet to shout "ole!"

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    Serious question; how long has that been going on ( the Mexican trumpets before every kick-off), noticed in the earlier games and love it, who said NZers were a passionless people eh
    So much better for those of us who are not at the games when compared with the Mexican wave

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 522 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    My partner and I spent last weekend at St Bathans, Central Otago (population down from a high of 2,000, now six permanent residents). We were staying in the old jail which has been converted to accommodation - beautifully warm, with a freeview TV and a great shower. Notice above the taps says to not only boil your water for drinking, but if the siren sounds to turn off all your taps as the fire brigade will need the water pressure. Rabbits fleeing at your approach, little white bottoms bouncing up and down as they run.

    We went to the local pub (Vulcan Hotel) to seek some dinner. Mike and Jude are the owners, they rent the place off the St Bathans Trust. When a restaurant says "bookings essential", normally that's because they're full. Not at the Vulcan - it means they're empty. Jude told us that she couldn't do us dinner as they liked to have bookings 24 hours in advance. I guess there's food to defrost and a kitchen to get going. Pub food we asked? Sorry said Mike, kitchen is closed for the night. Packet of chips?

    Nevermind we thought, we'll have a beer and catch the Australia-USA game. Sure said Mike, slightly grumpy at the lack of fresh company to talk to. Finished one drink, and then ordered another for the game. We wandered out to the back to the dining room, a large CRT TV chained to the wall. No through here says Mike, calling us through to what appears to be the owners home - a large dining table, couch, TV in the corner. Stretched out on the couch is Jude, a slight snore and regular whistling sound her only noise. Don't mind her says Mike, enjoy the game.

    So we settle in, and by half time Jude has woken up and excused herself, retiring I presume to the couple's bedroom. Three local residents in the front bar, along with Mike, demand regular updates of the score, but I suspect they're more playing with the tourists than actually interested in the game. Another round, second half, we lose interest in the game and start playing with the local dog - a black lab called Jack who's seen too many days but still gets around fairly well. Bring our glasses (as demanded by Mike) to the front again, and wish them good night.

    Saturday back for dinner - having carefully booked the night before. Monster steaks and roast potatoes and veges - all well cooked. Dessert is too much for either of us, and we decline the opportunity to watch the All Blacks play France, retiring instead to our room and a snore free zone. My partner drops off after that but I stay up to watch the Warriors knock over Melbourne. Holy cow well deserved.

    The next morning we wake up to 4 inches of snow - roads clear, but car and yard and every tree for miles completely covered. One of the most beautiful things I've seen, and I wander a kilometer along the road to cell phone hill, where you can get coverage again. Fantastic weekend.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    I understand recordari was in attendance, somewhere in the near capacity crowd.

    In the seats right next to us lol.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17977 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    The crowd went wild when the war dances began. It was hard to say who won – Fiji definitely gets points for timing the start perfectly, just as the Samoan one was about to hit high gear. But there was a fierce confidence about the Samoan show that presaged the game itself.

    I thought the rugby was fairly mediocre for most of the game, and that you couldn't blame the conditions for all of the handling errors, but the challenges were electrifying.

    I loved how they just stood there and eyeballed each other for a while. Then the Samoans launched and the crowd roared. And the Fijians launched and the crowd roared even louder. Wow.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17977 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to BenWilson,

    One thing that mystified me is the excitement the crowd gets at the Mexican trumpets before every kick-off, and the noticeable number of people dressed as banditos. I can only guess that they are real fans of the Mexican wave,

    First time I heard those trumpets I felt quite happy to have a sound that seemed at least a little celebratory. But when I saw the crowd begin to undulate in that inimitable Mexican wavery, I held my breath, expecting to see massed Policemen march onto the pitch and halt the game until all that tomfoolery was put a stop to. This would have taken some time as the cop in charge would have had to go off somewhere to learn the basics of crowd control or something. The breakdown of discipline could have got out of hand, don't you know? and who knows where that could have led, before you know it we could have Bagpipes or some other abomination.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4454 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    and who knows where that could have led, before you know it we could have Bagpipes or some other abomination.

    Such outrages are streng verboten in the grounds.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    We went to the local pub (Vulcan Hotel) to seek some dinner.

    Are they still marketing the Vulcan as haunted, Kyle?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Llewellyn,

    Haydn - I started my response with your brief for it to be light-hearted in mind ..... but, sadly, all too many of my strongest and most vivid RWC memories remain associated with Those Games That Cannot Ever Be Watched Again

    There is the 1995 game in which we had invented a new brand of football which involved being fitter, faster and having Jonah. Total Rugby. And then were 'blindsided' by a team playing for a much greater cause than ours ....

    Then there is the 1999 game .... Jonah back playing well, slightly flattering scoreline at half-time but hey this game looks in the bag, I can relax from the safety of the bar I was drinking in then whammo total gallic carnage.

    Roll on 2003, and Mitch & Robbies 'journey' ..... and soundly beaten by a more committed Wallaby team. I still remember the management sending out a young Jerry Collins to face the media about where it all went wrong (and what ever happened to Jerry anyway? seems to have been a very strange end to a distinguished AB career)

    And finally, 2007, and the game that truly will Never EVER Be Watched Again. I still don't comprehend it. Granted the opposition were immense, but that was just one of those weird experiences where it felt like we could park ourselves on the opposition line for days a time with 90% of possession without ever looking like winning a penalty or breaching their line. Just the weirdest game ever.

    But onto happier times ....... to paraphrase someone wiser than me, I've got over my man-crush on the fortunes (or not) of the AB's. I'm loving this RWC. I loved taking my kids to the Fiji v Samoa game .... I'm learning how to love the game again through their eyes. Being a fan, not a fanatic. Some of the crowd on Sunday were magnificent, before, during and after the game, regardless of result.

    Mt Albert • Since Nov 2006 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Richard Llewellyn,

    Granted the opposition were immense, but that was just one of those weird experiences where it felt like we could park ourselves on the opposition line for days a time with 90% of possession without ever looking like winning a penalty or breaching their line. Just the weirdest game ever.

    It really, really was. It will be a long time before we see a test where one team completely dominates every statistic, plays all the rugby and can't even get a penalty out of the ref.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17977 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I loved how they just stood there and eyeballed each other for a while. Then the Samoans launched and the crowd roared. And the Fijians launched and the crowd roared even louder. Wow.

    The Pacific nations' challenges are the highlights of any sporting competition anywhere on the globe IMHO. Sad it's only happened twice this tournament!

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Bowden,

    I met my wife during the 2003 World Cup. We were in London. She was (is) a hard core Aussie fan and I was (am) a true blue ABs man. We agree to meet up for a drink after the NZ v Aussie semi-final. Obviously I had assumed we would win it, but I swallowed my pride and turned up anyway. She invited me out to watch the Aussie v England final with her and her mates at the Walkabout. I declined as it felt like I would be attending a party I wasn't invited to, but I joined her in a kind of grieving solidarity after the game. Given that the game started early in the day UK time, by the time I caught up with her she had made quite a start on drowning her sorrows. Things progressed from there.

    In 2007 we were living together (engaged?) and the World Cup was on closer to our London home. I had been to an ABs pool game, and we both had quarter final tickets - hers to England v Australia in Marsielle and mine to THAT game in Cardiff. After watching the Aussie game in a pub in the middle of the Welsh valleys (a bit bizarre, us Kiwis supporting England and the locals supporting Australia, and our English friend celebrating but not too hard...he was in the Welsh valleys after all) I managed to restrain myself from sending any smart arsed text messages to her. My mates and I then preceded on into Cardiff and THAT game (the stories from that could fill another blog). At least it meant that we could grieve together, again.

    Its 2011 and I managed to get her to agree to move to New Zealand (tough ask for an Aussie). We purchased a villa right next to Eden Park, purchased an Eden Park pool pack and a few extra tickets a year ago. In January we found out we had a new arrival due right in the middle of the World Cup, although he was good enough to arrive a month ago rather than during a game (I was secretly hoping he would be born at Eden Park). He already has an All Blacks one piece and a home made All Blacks cardigan. And a Wallabies one piece, gloves and bib.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Chris Bowden,

    FTW, man. And both my kids have both AB and Wallaby bling. Love them Ozzie chicks, and my one in particular!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    It may be a little too soon to call The RWC Experience of 2011, but ... on Saturday night Ms 9 had a massive fever, coughing like a maniac, and all the symptoms of The Plague That Ravaged Warkworth. So much for popping off to someone else's house, someone with a TV, to watch the Kiwis play France. But, some improvised aerial wiring later, we're watching free-to-air Maori TV on the tiny gogglebox that my grandpa put onto the bedroom ceiling when my grandma was dying from brain cancer. The whole family piled into our bed, we soaked up the commentary, the rugby caused Ms 9's cough to stop for the whole game, and a loving family night was had by all. The only thing better than watching NZ's young pups do good at Eden Park is doing so while cuddled up to my own young pup.

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    It's about time I threw in my favourite World Cup story.

    In 2007, I was living in Canberra. The city is a strange place, some parts a modernist architecture of bureaucracy, but most parts simply park. I was living in the park, in a modest cottage with young French and German housemates, both sports-mad women. We'd often assemble in the local sports bar with yet more French and Kiwis, and watch the All Blacks thrash the Wallabies.

    We also lived across the road from the Alliance Francaise (this thing). So, it was only natural that when the All Blacks finally met France in the quarter final, we'd go across the road, turn on a screen and sit and watch. The actual experience is a blur. Bewilderment, shock, resignation, as the game took full effect. I can't tell you anything much about what actually happened. People threw the ball around, people tackled, both sides scored tries.

    What I do remember very vividly is the moments after the whistle blew. We looked around us, and the chuffed French gave us their consolations. Even the strangers in the crowd knew how gutted we were, and pulled out some champagne; for their celebration, and to soften our pain. They were kind and sincere, and we appreciated it. The croissants were also delicious. After the champagne ran out and the night had ended, we stumbled across the road through the breaking morning light, and fell into bed.

    I didn't care much about rugby until 2007. It was a pretty game with no emotional import. I think it took the relocation to a place where it meant a tangible abstract symbol of something left behind to make it fully mine. The French are still my second team.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2079 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to George Darroch,

    Even the strangers in the crowd knew how gutted we were, and pulled out some champagne; for their celebration, and to soften our pain. They were kind and sincere, and we appreciated it.

    Lovely story George.

    I had a similar experience here in Sydney, in 2003, for the entire game, every kiwi baited every Australian in the pub and vice versa . The moment the full-time whistle sounded, two or three Aussies bought me beers and offered their sincere condolences. These experiences are a key part of why I love sport.

    I've lived here for almost a decade, the Aussies are my second team... unless they're playing Samoa, then they're third.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Are they still marketing the Vulcan as haunted, Kyle?

    Yes, in as much as I’m not sure they market the place at all. I think you could rake it in by bringing up people to stay in all the beds in town, giving them a walk around the lake and tour of the gold mines, dinner, drinks, meet the locals. The male publican is a fantastic character. Would be a great experience, but the marketing of the Vulcan seems to involve trying to turn people away at the door.

    We did ask to look in room 1, which is the haunted room, but apparently the owners had taken pity on someone who had had too much the night before and hadn’t tidied up the mess by the next afternoon.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Bowden, in reply to BenWilson,

    Cheers Ben. My wife and I have matured to the point where we can now watch Bledisloe Cup matches in the same room!!

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Back in '99, my partner (now wife) and I were living in the UK, in student accomodation. It was one of those residence hall affairs where you have individual rooms but a communal TV room, laundry, and (since this was the UK) bar. The RWC was a great way to find all the other Antipodeans in the place, by virtue of seeing who turned up to watch the ABs games. Good fun.

    But my best moments with the RWC have been this year, and from my kids.

    My 7yo is supporting Australia. We have no particular connection with Australia, but she loves the Crocodile Hunter and Bindi the Jungle Girl, and so she's supporting Australia. When she announced this in class, the rest of her room booed her. She was pretty down about this, but it didn't deter her; and so for the school day where you went in the colors of your favorite team, she was determined to go with an Australian flag. I'd bought her an Oz supporters t-shirt, but she wanted a flag as well. I felt that I had to support the bloody-minded "sod you I'll support who I like" individualism she was showing against peer pressure, so I ended up spending twenty minutes the night before carefully cutting stars out of white duct tape to convert a small NZ flag we already had into an Australian one. She duly took it to school, represented her adopted team, and emerged defiant and triumphant. She literally wailed and screamed when she found out that Ireland had beaten Australia.

    At the other pole, I was at the library with my 4yo the other week. "Look Daddy!" she called, pointing behind me, "Wales!" I turned around, expecting to see a humorous cartoon whale or similar (the ambiguity doesn't work well in text). But no: she'd spotted a Welsh flag. And a Georgian one. And Romanian. And, especially, Argentina! Her preschool is pretty cosmopolitan, and the teachers had used the RWC as a chance to teach the kids about various national flags. So now, any time we go past an Argentinian flag, my 4yo daughter goes off like a fizzbomb. There's a lot of bunting around. Any trip through town at the moment is likely to have her spotting at least five. I think she's particularly into the Argentinian flag because it has a sun on it, and because one of her good friends is Argentinian.

    So I don't know about the actual sporting side of it, but there's a lot of character being built and knowledge being imparted just by virtue of having it here.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 707 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to JackElder,

    Word. My son's school has been right into it, and it's made for good fun, good teaching opportunities.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

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