For my birthday Matt bought us tickets to see the Maori All Blacks play the U.S. Rugby Team. New Zealand’s rugby team is the best of the best. They don’t get any more elite than this team. The Maori All Blacks are all of Maori descent and this is one tough bunch. They were on a tour to promote rugby. Before the game, the All Blacks perform the haka, which is a Maori war dance intended to intimidate the opponents. It is a tradition and unique to the team. You know what we Americans did while they performed? The crowd chanted, “USA! USA!” It was quite rude actually. They did let the Maori singer get through their national anthem, without shouting thank God.
I have not been to a stadium sporting event in years and I was startled at the behavior of the crowd in both the parking lot and the stadium. Hockey and baseball crowds are ridiculously polite in comparison. Or maybe it is that DC bubble that makes it seem so.
We were powerful hungry when we arrived. The stadium had the standard fair and we almost got hamburgers when I saw a small sign that said, “New Zealand meat pies.” Like a laser, I’m on it. We ordered the spicy chicken. It was simply a pot pie served as a hand pie which lead to a kind of messy situation since a pot pie has a lot of gravy. We had gravy all over our fingers. But it was still pretty good considering it was stadium food.
The U.S. team tried to hold its own but after a while the All Blacks just overpowered them. If you want to see a tough bunch of guys, check out rugby. No padding, no helmets, no stopping play for anything as foolish as an injury. Lots of tackling, bruising, and the scrum that kind of looks like mass wrestling. More than one guy had a bandage wrapped around his head by the end of the game. One American player hurt his leg bad. He was limping. It looked like he pulled a hamstring. He refused to leave the game. The trainers go onto the field while play is going on. They kept trying to get him off the field and he kept running away from them. Well, running is an overstatement. He was hobbling. But he would not quit. At one point, it was up to him to stop an All Black headed straight for the goal line. His legs just could not give enough force and he got run over. The All Blacks were pretty much in one piece in the end. I am not sure I would say that for our side. (Okay, I was rooting for New Zealand.) What I learned was this is a game I had never seen before and now I want to watch all the time. Sports television networks! Give us rugby!