Today Miriam and I finally got to hang out and watch some rugby. There is a rugby field near our hostel that we pass every day on our way to and from town. There are always people hanging out on the sidelines and some rugby-ers* throwing the white football* around.
(Author’s note: I don’t know any rugby slang)
We’ve been wanting to just sit down and watch a game so that we can understand the sport, however when we have time to stop, no one is playing. When we don’t have time, that’s when a game is going on. Today, we were walking into town and saw two teams starting their warmups. So we grabbed some lunch and sat down.
Today’s matchup was between two teenage (18-year old) travel clubs. One was from Australia and the other was from NZ. I’m not sure what the skill level was, but I’m guessing they were pretty good if they were traveling from Australia to play here. I don’t understand how rugby works so here are some general observations about the game I watched today.
– There are a lot fewer injuries in a rugby match/game than an NFL game. I would estimate that there is an injury, severe or mild, one in every four plays in an NFL game (more frequently if Mike Vick is playing). Even though there are no pads, I only saw 3 injuries that stopped the action in the game today. One guy got his head cracked open and had to get it bandaged. By Walking Dead standards (no spoilers please) there was a lot of blood.
– There were probably about 50 spectators today. There are always people sitting around watching even if it is just an unorganized game on a weekday afternoon but this was the biggest audience so far. People even bring beer to drink in the stands. You rarely see this at amateur sports in the states. I say rarely because who can forget this.
– I was surprised by how few fights there were in the game. For a contact sport where guys are getting their faces smashed into the ground, the players seem to respect each other a lot. There was some extracurricular shoving but it was usually stopped without the assistance of an official. There was one instance where the shortest guy on the field/pitch/court/diamond took a swing at another guy’s face, but he whiffed.
– There was one guy on the Aussies who was much bigger than the rest of the guys. When he had the ball/rock/pigskin/pill it kinda looked like this. He’s going to be the first pick in the local fantasy youth rugby league draft this year. He wasn’t very fast but he was just running guys over like Adrian Peterson fighting through a crowd at a Black Friday sale. He’s #8 in the picture below.
I really enjoyed sitting in the sun and being a spectator. Next I would like to go to a professional game, or even an All Blacks (NZ’s National team) match. I think it will be cool to see the game played at a high level but mainly I want to see this.