Thursday, July 7, 2011

Football. I mean, Rugby.

Today I went to the bank to get my New Zealand debit card.  Every single person working there was wearing a rugby shirt -- Canterbury of course.

"Tomorrow, you must wear your red and black," our bank manager told me.  "It's mandatory."

And that reminded me that I still haven't posted about going to a rugby match last weekend.

Rugby -- or 'football' here -- is a big deal here.  Think Steelers.  Or Texas.  Red and Black is as popular as black and yellow, or burnt orange, depending on where you come from.

We went to the "Shields match" which is a preseason game between Canterbury and North Otago.  It reminded me a bit of the Texas-Rice football game in that the teams were wildly mismatched.  The end score of the Sheilds match was 52 (Canterbury) - 8 (North Otago).  I've seen the score of the Rice game end with Texas scores in the 90's and Rice scores at 3.

As it was my first rugby match, I had to be educated.  Here are some things I learned.

1.  In US football, a tackle ends the play.  In rugby, a tackle simply means that everyone is after the ball, but if the player holding the ball gets it to his own teammate, the play continues without stopping.  This must require serious cardio training to be able to keep the play going as long as it continues.

2.  In US football, you must get the ball into the end zone within your teams' control in order to score.  This is called a touchdown, although the ball does not have to touch the ground.  In rugby, you have to actually touch the ball to the ground in the end zone to score.  This is called a 'Try'.  If you 'try' you score.

3.  Rugby players wear shorts.  So you can see that their thighs are approximately the size of 20-year-old tree trunks.

4.  Rugby players wear no padding.  Several of them look like they had some anyway, simply because they are SO LARGE.

5.  At halftime, I took the kids to go play in the park right next to the rugby field.  There was one Mom standing on the playground equipment, watching the game over the fence and two teenagers who had climbed trees to watch the game over the fence.

6.  Rugby fans in Christchurch don't drink as much beer as I expected them to.  They were quite polite and there were a lot of kids there.

Finally, the Canterbury team has a really, really entertaining mascot.  Larry the Lamb.  The kids love him.

This weekend marks the first match of the season.  Canterbury vs. some team I haven't ever heard of.  And the Rugby World Cup is coming to NZ this October.  Hopefully, I'll be more educated by then.

Larry the Lamb

Canterbury vs. Otago in the lineup

Kicking off


  1. Where r the "All Blacks" from?

  2. The All Blacks are the New Zealand national team.