For quite some time I’ve been interested in rugby. The problem is that in Georgia or almost anywhere in the U.S. there are exactly zero rugby leagues. Not the case in New Zealand. Rugby is by FAR the dominant sport, All Blacks (the country’s international rugby team) merchandise can be found at almost every store in the country and almost everyone watches every All Blacks game. My views of rugby may conflict a little with New Zealanders since the All Blacks aren’t my favorite team (I prefer the Wales Brains and the South Africa Springboks), but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good game of New Zealand provincial rugby. When offered a chance to go and watch a provincial game pairing the second and third place teams I accepted, and so began my journey into the smelly TV room. The RV camp that we were staying at had a small room with a few couches, chairs, and a TV. The night of the provincial game my Dad, McKane, and I entered the smelly room to find the game already on and two people in the room. One was an older man who used to play provincial rugby until recently and the other was his son. The game was good. Whenever we would get confused the man would explain to us what just happened or what the call meant. The game was entertaining even though the teams played far below expectations. Auckland blew out its opponent, North Harbor, 21 to 3. Although this game was important, it paled in comparison to the game which was to go on the next night at 1:00 in the morning.
The Smelly Room
The next game would be the All Blacks (who dominate almost every game and were on a 16 game winning streak) versus the South African Springboks (a team who has been in a slump for quite some time and is usually blown out by the All Blacks). All over the small city of Pahiha where we were staying people were preparing for the game. McKane decided to sit this game out, so it was only me and my dad who would go into the reeking TV room this time. We awoke at one and made our way over to the room to find the same two people already inside watching the game. Things went off with a bang as South Africa quickly kicked a goal. Not to be outdone New Zealand followed up with a kick straight through the posts. South Africa kicked another goal and this told the All Blacks it was go time.
Both teams played a vicious game of rugby.
They moved in on the Boks and scored a try (equivalent to a touchdown in American football), less than a minute later the Boks scored a try of their own. This battle continued for some time until the All Blacks took the lead with only forty seconds left in regulation timing. The Boks drove down the field, driving farther and farther until the Blacks finally got in and stopped them. For what seemed like an eternity neither side moved, then a Blacks player in a fit of anger shoved a Bok to the side and stepped offsides, (to which the man next to us shouted “YOU IDIOT!” for about the tenth time that night) allowing the Boks the chance to kick a goal. The hopes of the Boks rested on their kicker, Praetoreous, who despite being good during the offensive runs had been having a so-so kicking day. If he could score here then the Boks would have a one point lead over the Blacks and would win. Praetoreous kicked a beauty through the posts and the Boks took the lead. Despite a valiant effort by the Blacks to score again they lost. The Boks won and I couldn’t help but smile despite the man in the room getting up angrily and promptly turning off the TV. I was probably one of three people in New Zealand happy with the outcome of the game, but that just shows how much the Kiwis love their rugby. Bottom line is if you’re in New Zealand make sure you see a rugby game or two. You’ll be amazed by the country’s devotion to their team.