My First Rugby Match by a Twickenham Virgin
As a keen football fan for the last 30 years, I was persuaded by my egg catching friends that I HAD to step over to the dark side and come to Twickenham, the Home of Rugby.
Having NEVER seen a game of Rugby in my life I was told that if you were ever to see a game it would be this one.
My first Rugby Match was to be England vs The New Zealand All Blacks and to be honest after leaving Devon at 7am I was building up quite buzz about the whole thing with my mate Sean giving me a run down of the rules and what to expect all the way up. Having been to a lot of Big Games in football such as Liverpool and Manchester Derby’s I anticipated a lot of the same.
I was wrong, The build up to this game between the world’s Number 1 team the All Blacks and England was a lot more laid back. OK, I know it was a so called friendly but with the hammering English Rugby had been dealt the week before against the World Cup Holders South Africa, I assumed that this was a must win.
The Banter in the Pub that we went to before the game was very light hearted and it was the first time I started to understand the mentality of the people going to the game.
Not 1 person I spoke to expected England to win, but everyone was looking forward to the game!!
This is nothing like the mentality in football, you EXPECT your team to win no matter what and if you don’t it’s your right to slaughter the team and boo the overpaid player that last week you cheered off.
I have to say the Stadium at Twickenham was Fantastic, the atmosphere outside the ground in the beer tents was great with both fans mingling and having a great time together, you would never see this at a football game and that added such a twist to the day.
Inside the ground I was sat in the North Stand Lower Tier and the View I had was great, I was sat next to 2 All Blacks fans who were very friendly.
The thing everyone kept saying to me to look out for was the All Blacks war Dance, the ‘HAKA’.
During the HAKA the English fans overpowered the HAKA chanting with Swing Lo Sweet Chariot which lifted the roof; this was as good an atmosphere I have witnessed in any Cup final.
The Game itself was alien to me and as I was learning the game as it went on, I will not pretend to know what was happening but was able to see basic errors myself without knowing to much. I thought that England looked bright and full of energy up till 10 Meters from the Try line when they always seemed to run out of ideas.
I loved all the little flicks and quick passing from the All blacks, there captain Ritchie Macaw put in some great challenges and showed a real spirit, unlike some of the England Players.
I had heard a lot about Paul Sackey as a quick player but thought he was the worst player on the pitch, he seemed like he didn’t want to know, unlike the whole of the All blacks who wanted everything for the whole 80 mins.
The only thing I would say in my opinion is that Twickenham is a great stadium with a good atmosphere and that the overall day was fantastic. BUT the one thing I did feel lacking in the game was the great BANTER you get at a football match. You don’t have the chanting from opposing fans and the banter that goes to and fro.
My opinion on Rugby HAS changed quite dramatically. I used to go with the saying ‘Watched by Gentleman, played by Thugs’, but I now understand its Just as Skillfull as Football but with a MUCH higher threshold for Pain!
What do you think are the main differences between watching a Rugby Match as opposed to a Football Match?