Sunday, 3 November 2013

A hooligan's game played by gentlemen

Just a quick post today.  Steph's birthday is the day before Hallowe'en, and through an EXTREMELY coincidental confluence of events, I found that the Maori All-Blacks were playing in Toronto the weekend after his birthday.  He spent a year in New Zealand as a kid, and played rugby, and as long as I've known him has watched videos of the various haka they perform, so it seemed like a gimme, buying tickets for a birthday outing.

We don't often go out without the kids, so this was unusual for us.  It was a beautiful day, if a little cold.  When we got to our seats, it was 6 degrees Celsius, which made me wish I'd heeded the fleeting thought to grab an afghan or blanket before we left.  But, we had some of the thin afternoon sun at our backs, and we were out of the wind coming off Lake Ontario, so we settled in to enjoy the game.

Someone I work with, who also happens to be a major rugby enthusiast, told me that when he has gone to BMO Fields to watch a game, it's never more than one third full, but the fans are awesome.  Today we were part of rugby history, a sold out game, 22.5K fans in the stands, the biggest audience ever in North America.  Kinda cool.

The haka was breathtaking.  Strong, powerful, full-throated men.  Mmmm.

I watched a few league-level rugby games when I was at school in Wales.  My main memory was that I was nearly always the only female in the audience, and that the men watching were a little resentful of my presence, until they saw me drinking beer and swearing and yelling, and then it was fine.  Today was nothing like those muddy, sweaty men grappling with each other for the ball.  Fast, tight, skillfully aggressive, sparingly chippy.  Grateful for the audience too, as both teams circled the field after the game in opposite directions, clapping at the crowd.

Happy birthday Usagi.


  1. I saw the word haka and couldn't resist reading :-) I do miss New Zealand. Love that there was a record-breaking audience for them too.

  2. I'm glad I brought you home for a moment! This is the haka they performed...which was like nothing I've ever seen before live. I hope you enjoy it. :-)