Match Day Eve. The rehearsal game: South Africa v Samoa. After a blustery morning in Devonport, we moved to Takapuna, an Auckland suburb on the North Shore, by the sea. I loved Devonport with its military connections and old Victorian charm, but Takapuna was a little too modern for my liking, with its high rise banks and insurance companies, and lacking any real character. Deveonport reminded me of Dorset, with pretty little shops and views of Auckland, that made you feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
To get out of the wind, I went into bar in the Fanzone. The seating style included beds – really. I could just imagine what would go on them on a Saturday night, when the raging hormones of youth hit the RTDs.
The local council had organised buses to an Albany industrial park (sadly the case with many modern stadia), from Takapuna and other North Shore destinations, and they ran like clockwork. The bus mostly had Bokke on, and as usual they were extremely confident, but the neutrals in the ground were all for Samoa. The majority of the ‘Manu’ team had experience of the Premiership, so many players had ‘club’ support. I met Salosi and Michael Taginackinbau’s sister.
Albany Stadium only has one covered stand, ad so everything was crossed that the worst of Auckland’s weather would not strike. Both sets of fans were passionate, but sadly the dickhead behaviour came from an Englishman, with a Leicestershire accent. The worse for wear every penalty was accompanied with a shout for a yellow card, and yet when Williams was sent off for retaliation – i.e. a back flooring a big South African forward, (who did deserve it for hitting out to free himself from a ruck), he thought that the South African should go as well, and started an argument with a Bokke – to what end? The game was already lost, a yellow card may have sufficed, but it woul’ve still taken him out of the game. Samoa deserved to win, playing the better rugby, but their discipline cost them, and maybe as underdogs they were penalised a bit too much by Nigel Owen.
Outside the ground, I caught the bus, and from the full time whistle being blown, to lying down in my 5 star campervan, was 50 minutes.
Hey Baby – Bruce Chanel and I believe there was a disco version in the 90’s. the sing along song of injury breaks.Total miles so far: 4600km