QBE International Rugby: England vs New Zealand at Twickenham.

QBE Twickenham Rugby

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be gifted tickets to the QBE international rugby match between England and New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium (a family member has a debenture). I have to admit, I'm not really a big sports fan, but rugby is the best of a boring bunch and the added excitement of watching England play the All Blacks was hard to refuse ... I have family members in New Zealand who very vocal in their support for their national team!

The Atmosphere

... is probably my favourite thing about the whole experience. Rugby fans aren't rowdy like their football equivalents; in fact, the whole affair is pretty civilized!

From the point we stepped on the train at Waterloo we were part of the fun - New Zealand fans were jovially discussing the match with a crowd of the English who outnumbered them at least twenty to one in a packed train carriage! Walking through the residential streets towards the stadium, local children set up yard tuck shops to earn a bit of extra pocket money. Upon arrival, the steward checking my bag tried to steal my stash of Percy Pigs ... no chance!!

As we sat in our seats waiting for the match to begin, young children would step out from the vast stairway to get their first glimpse of the enormous pitch, their faces unable to hide the glee as their parents made them pose for a picture. We watched the teams warm up and the English mascots parade around the pitch. The crowd sang the National Anthem louder and with more clarity than I've ever heard it before. 82,000 people stood in a dignified, respectful, silence to remember those who lost their lives fighting in wars for our future ... the contrast, yet similarity, between the national pride, displayed in both the anthem and silence pretty much made me cry!

As the All Blacks performed their infamous Haka, the predominantly English crowd erupted into a spontaneous rendition of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' which pretty much drowned it out without being disrespectful. That's what I liked about this match, whenever the New Zealand team scored there was a respectful applause from the English fans.

The Match

Now I really am no expert when it comes to rugby (I found myself repeatedly having to ask my companions what the hell had just happened!), but I am led to believe that England played a good first half ... they scored a very exciting try within the first five minutes ... but were pretty much outclassed in the second half until New Zealand had a few slip ups and gave away some penalty points near the end.

Needless to say, we lost. But only by three points! My dad reliably informs me that some of our players are injured, so the team on the pitch hadn't really played together much before and it could have been a lot worse! Let's hope our team are preparing to peak for next year's Rugby World Cup!

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