Lions v Lions

Kia Ora everybody (its too orangey for crows)

Last night Lewis and I went to watch Wellington Lions vs the British and Irish Lions (playing Rugby Union for the uninitiated amongst you) at the Westpac Stadium in, you’ve guessed it, Wellington.

We bought the tickets the day before on the internet after word got round that a website still had a few left. We paid 90 bucks for them, which is the equivalent of about 35 quid.

The town was totally decked out in the blacks and yellows of the home team, and the reds of the Brits and there was a buzz about the city on the day of the game. We went to the pub early and there were already thousands of people wandering round in British Lions shirts. Nobody was in black and yellow, but I think this was probably because they were still at work. It was a wednesday after all.

Anyway, with the game approaching the two of us joined the crowds swarming towards the ground but were surprised to find it pretty empty when we got in. They don’t have the home and away segregation that they do in football games back home, so we found ourselves sat with Kiwis on either side of us, but Brits were dotted about all over the place. The ground is a big oval shape, seating, from various reports we’ve been given, anywhere between 30 thousand and 58 thousand people. I think it’s about 40,000, but because of the architecture of it, anywhere you sit you get a great view of the action.

The place stayed empty until about five minutes before kickoff, but even the latecomers were early enough to witness some awful entertainment.

The organisers had decided to represent the different nations competing by having a national dance performance for each one. The Kiwis had Maori, Tongan and Fijian dancers all doing their traditional dances, which were pretty good, and even the Irish and Scottish national dances were quite impressive. I hung my head in shame when I saw that we had four fat bespectacled gentlemen representing my homeland dressed up in white waving handkerchiefs at each other and prancing around like creatures my Dad might call ‘Jessies’.
Thankfully, my blushes were spared and a tiny amount of patriotism was restored (in the ‘at least we weren’t that bad’ sense) when the Welsh representative stepped up.
While we all had traditional dances dating back centuries, the Welsh had what looked like a drag queen, or at least a particularly unattractive lady, dressed up like Shirley Bassey, miming to ‘Hey Big Spender’ in front of tens of thousands of people. That took guts but she really needs to choose a different career path. Hats off to her agent for booking her the gig though, he must have really oversold her.
Although I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow account of the game, I will say that it was a great experience as my first rugby match, and it’s a lot different to watching it on the telly. Thankfully they had a big screen at the ground which gave you instant replays, followed by the reasons the ref gives for decisions made, because half the time it was a bit difficult to tell.
One guy sat about 20 rows round from us, with a particularly loud voice, managed to get a mexican wave going on his own, which went round the whole ground twice. I was pretty impressed, so I guess it’s something he’ll remember for quite a while.
We’re now on the South Island after making the 3hr ferry crossing at 9.30 this morning.


Ferries and hangovers aren’t good bedfellows might I add…

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