crouch, touch, pause, engage

tonight we went to our second rugby match this season to root for wellington hurricanes as they took on the waikato chiefs.

as part of our continuing effort to acclimate getting in the rugby spirit seemed to logical thing to do, so we are now season ticket holders to wellington rugby. this gets us quite a bit including tickets to all wellington hurricanes home games, all wellington lions home games, the all blacks test match against south africa, and most importantly – seats for next year’s sevens.

the hurricanes are in the super 14 rugby league with teams from nz, australia and south africa. although most players on the hurricanes are from the wellington region player do move from team to team like in most us sports. the super 14 season runs february to may. the air new zealand cup (formally the national provincial championship) has 14 teams each representing an nz province. the air new zealand cup season immediately follows the super 14 season with most all nz super 14 players also playing for their local air new zealand cup team. the all blacks compete in the annual irb test matches (international competitions) and the every four years irb world cup (next world cup in nz in 2011). this complicates things further since the all blacks squad is composed of the best nz players who are all playing for their local air new zealand cup teams. so when the all blacks are practicing or competing, the air new zealand teams all lose their best players. this normally is ok with the fans as long as the all blacks are winning. when they don’t (they didn’t in the recent world cup) the air new zealand cup fans feel a bit ripped off. with the world cup disappointment still fresh, and the country still exhausted from the stress lead up to and during the world cup, attendance at the super 14 games is down quite a bit. a lot of talk of rugby fatigue.

good for us the hurricanes won both this game (39 to 19) and our first home game against the queensland reds (23-18).

i think we understand the rules enough to enjoy the games, but for a sport that already has some odd language (tighthead prop, maul, ruck, etc.) they have added to the challenge but rolling out some experimental rules change for this season. let me know what you think of the new breakdown rules:

breakdown (tackle/post tackle)

  • players entering the breakdown area must do so through the gate
  • immediately the tackle occurs there are offside lines
  • the half back should not be touched unless he has his hands on the ball.

like so many things new zealand, the atmosphere at the games is very small town. middle school kids are the ball boys on the side lines. several of the photographers are not wearing shoes. cheerleaders are college girls with ads for the local bowling alley on their butt.

but we love it. we scooted in to town, parked a block from the stadium (free), got our fish & chips and 4 pack of tui’s ($20) from the concession stand and were in our seats in time for the warm ups.

captain hurricane is our mascot – and i’d like to point out that he won the mascot race held at this year’s sevens tournament.

tui beer is one of the major sponsors of wellington rubgy. they target primarily sporting fans. perhaps the budweiser of nz. but this being nz they can get away with things that would likely cause a stir in the states. the tui girls is the best example. they make up the civil offense squad and are seen at the games and around town in their heels, miniskirts and toolbelts.

one of the running team gags is the hurricane force winds, so the tui girls bring around hair dryers that blow your hair back for a true hurricanes fan photo.

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