It definitely is the jersey that you wear. In the opening stages of the game, as South Africa dotted down right in front of the touch judge, I found myself cheering, then swearing at referee Wayne Barnes as he went to the TMO. I was noticing the Welsh infringements more than the South African ones. And I found myself hating the loud-mouthed drunken Welshman in the corporate box beside me; and not just he was being an arsehole. Well mainly, because he was an arsehole. He seemed to only know the offside rule, vaguely, and a basic selection of swear words. But he was a small ugly blight on what was a very nice day as a South African.
For those who don't remember, the tale of why I own a South African jersey, it’s really rather sweet. Though, as I am almost never in a position to support the “old foe”, the jersey has stayed inside my wardrobe almost exclusively. Until yesterday.
After acquiring a number of safety pins to turn the XXL tent into a (roughly) M-sized jersey, I wandered through town with a newly acquired South African vibe. Though if anyone spoke to me there could be no deceit as my South African impersonation is famously awful.
It’s a wonderful experiment pretending to be a different person. I had smiles and nods from random people on the street, one guy walked past and wished me good luck. Another couple walked past me as I scoffed a quick burger before catching the media bus: “You going to the game tonight?” “Cool, good luck then!”
It just felt so nice to see that my fellow New Zealanders were being so kind to someone who looked like he was from overseas.
The Welsh fans gave smiles and nods, occasionally exchanging jokes or good wishes. The Bok fans doing the same, or a quiet “Go Bokke”. At the pub, I got some wary glances from Welsh supporters. It felt odd sitting with my green and gold in the middle of a sea of red. Perhaps this is why I felt like I had to support the Boks. Wearing the jersey means you’ve made an investment, you’ve put your chips on the colour and now you have to cheer for it.
The oddest exchange of the night came from a large group of South Africans. A large group of large South Africans. A dozen of them and only one was under 6-foot tall.
They were clearly on a tour together and were gathering after leaving a bar. I was sitting nearby minding my own business when I noticed that a couple of them were staring at me. I said hello and they beckoned me over. Through a mixture of drunken English and very drunken Afrikaans I discovered that they both had the surname Truter, the same that is on the back of my jersey. I couldn’t tell if they were related to each other but neither of them had heard of Trix Truter (whose son Anton sent me the jersey).
They were amazed to see a jersey with their name on it and I was amazed to meet them. We had a chat about the game and they took some snaps of them with me and I took an awful blurry photo of them as my bus pulled up. All in all a great night.
The game was amazing too. Drama, controversy, see-sawing lead changes, excited players from both benches. Victor Matfield did not sit down once after being subbed off, instead he stood at the edge of the advertising hoarding and yelled at the players and refs. It was far too tense a game to relax on the bench. One in a bunch of almost-upsets from the opening weekend.
After the game and the press conference (I will admit to trying to stalk Stephen Jones) I walked along the waterfront to meet friends for a drink. Sunday at 11pm on Wellington’s waterfront felt wonderful. The bars were open and well lit, all the fans, Welsh and South African were in high spirits and there were no crushes or trails of drunken destruction. I saw a novelty Welsh hat floating in the harbour and as I tried to take a photo a group of police walked up and joked, “do we need to initiate a maritime rescue operation?” It just all felt so relaxed and happy.
Nice work everyone.
Thanks to Samsung for the use of their Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the duration of the Rugby World Cup. The lovely little device is the perfect machine for a journalist on the go, like myself.
Man, was that a great game - both me and him indoors on the edge of our seats (couch, at home) despite neither of us being real fans. My Welsh heritage was very proud of those boyos, who played incredibly hard and nearly beat the world champs. Pleased that the whole experience was good - all reports in from friends are that the games have been great places to be so far - kids and all. Granddad is taking Mr 9 to North Harbour for Sth Africa vs Namibia next week. This RWC thing seems pretty good, so far. Auckland buzzing all weekend - flags flying, people everywhere. Love it.
Auckland • Since Mar 2010 • 107 posts Report
Nice story, Haydn.
Aside, so you recommend the Tab? Been considering one....
Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report
How did you find the coverage ?
Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report
Great story about the jersey. I missed it the first time round.
Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report
Hadyn Green, in reply to
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It's pretty good. If you like Android (and some people don't) then it's a great tablet. I can give you more advice later after I've used it a bit.
Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report
Paul Williams, in reply to
+1 nzlemming, both this and the earlier piece are really great reads. Another of the innumerable examples of why PA is one of my favourite places to hang.
Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report
perplexed, in reply to
I was at the game - My Telecom phone worked fine throughout, not that I could hear the calls!
I thought it was a great game, somethings I noticed that I don't pick up at home
- at Welsh restarts the Bok Forwards were paired off with a Jumper and a Lifter and spread across the park - looked a good tactic
- The infamous penalty kick that missed, well there was a wind and the ball did curl and the linesman was straight under the post - his view would have been better than anyone elses, I think a TV replay would have been misleading
- The Box defence was brilliant, lots of time the last man made a crucial tackle.
I was supporting Wales and they played with passion - but - they seemed to want to do endless phases in the Bok half and look for penalties, not a lot of penetration. In the first 5 minutes the Boks attack was awesome, they never approached that level again.
Wellington • Since Aug 2011 • 12 posts Report