The Bledisloe Cup is an annual International Rugby Union event of trans-Tasman rivalry. Between 25,000 and 65,000 people attend the games which are most often held in Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.
What I know about rugby union you could put on a postage stamp. Yes I had heard of the Wallabies, Springboks and the All Blacks, but really all I knew and cared about was the Haka.
The Haka rules!
The All Blacks have performed the Haka right through their history since 1888. Its the Maori War Song of Greeting.
It is the most anticipated piece of pre-Test theatre in International Rugby and sets the scene for the battle to come. It is the final act of the All Blacks preparation and spectators either love it or hate it. And I LOVE it!
So when a good friend said we could have two spare tickets two days before an Australian – New Zealand face off AND we would be chauferred to and from the venue some 100kms away, how could I refuse? Not even knowing that we had a 4.30am rise the very next day to be back close to the venue to start a 100km charity cycle ride to the Gold Coast.
Nothing would stand between me and a Haka. I jumped at the chance. My husband would just have to suffer the late night and the early morning. This was a HAKA!
Off we went, riding in the back of a white stretch limousine, along with four other fortunates. My first ever ride in a stretch limo. How awesome. I felt like a spotty faced teenager going to my first prom.
The company was lively even though none of us knew each other. But I did discover everyone else knew a damn lot more about rugby than we did. Note to self. Keep that bit of info private or appear like a pair of dumbos at one of the most fought after games to attend.
We arrived an hour or so before the main game started. We were treated to a fabulous smorgasbord feed, and of course, free flowing drinks. Our box was unbelievable.
The view was right on the midline of the field. All I could think of was that the Haka would be performed virtually right in front of us. Excitement was building. And it wasn’t just due to the glass or two of champagne I had downed (I don’t drink so it was having one helluva effect!).
All Blacks vs Wallabies
And then it began, the crowd built up as did the mood and the tension then they came out. One by one, each player first from the All Blacks, and then the Wallabies.
After a few preliminary introductions to the crowd, the players began to line up opposite each other and I knew any minute now, it was on. I had my camera ready.
Trying to slow my panting breath so as not to shake my camera, I pressed the record button just as they started. The kiwi team postured and began doing the Haka. I nearly wet myself.
It was almost impossible to keep the camera still whilst all I wanted to do was rape my husband standing next to me. There is something about the Haka.
It has always emoted the most AMAZING deep seated emotions of passion in me. HRT tablets have nothing on the Haka. I have told my husband sooooo many times that if its sex you want, then perform the haka in the bedroom and I am yours forever, sigh…(I’m still waiting…)
Well there it was, in its full glory, a full team of hunky, spunky big kiwis in tight shorts doing the Haka. And I was there to see it, feel it. Now, let the game begin, I am a happy woman!
I decided to try to video and photograph the event as this was a momentous occasion in my life. So I did, even though my tribal kiwis were not performing very well at all.
The Wallabies led the game the whole time. Our box was full of Wallaby supporters. I was the only one wearing black, including top and tail nail varnish. I didn’t care. I would DIE for a good Haka and would support anyone performing it, through thick and thin.
We were well behind in the score. 15 points and close to the end, I knew it was virtually all over. Whilst I had my iphone up to my face videoing the miserable score, my “good friend” who had given us the tickets leant over to me.
“Recording the moment of no return, are we?” he taunted. I turned around defiantly and said “Not until the fat lady sings!” But I knew she was already halfway up the stage. Then I remembered all my self motivation and positive thinking seminars I had been to over the years. “Snap out of it” my inner voice said. Come on, Ka Mate Ka Mate…
And then it happened. The All Blacks scored. 5 points, followed by a kick through the posts and another 2 points. The crowd moaned, and I shouted “Yeh!” And it didn’t stop there. A short while later, we got another kick and more points followed. Then there was only 6 points in the score. It had become a nail biter. Less than 10 minutes to go and both teams scrabbled desperately.
Then…yes! We scored another try, one and a half minutes from the final whistle. Can you believe it? Another moan from the Aussie dominated crowd. I could hardly contain myself. I knew we had a kick coming with the possibility of another 2 points which would, Oh My God, mean we would win.
I looked over to the score board. The time read 80.00 whilst my number 10 kiwi kicker was lining up the ball to kick, with the crowd booing and hissing to put him off. No pressure, no pressure at all. “Go for it mate, Go for Goal!” I screamed inside my head.
YES! He kicked and it floated through the air, through the posts and into the crowd. I went WILD! There was no containing it anymore. I screamed, hooted and nearly cried. I looked around the box and everyone else stood there in disbelief. Shock and absolute horror written all over their faces.
When the fat lady sings
All I could do was look over at my good friend and say “Fat lady’s singing now, eh?!” Ah, sweet revenge, the ultimate emotion. The score: 29 – 28. Say no more. Forget the game stats, the Haka always Rules and don’t you forget it!
The game was the Third Bledisloe Cup Test, Suncorp Stadium Brisbane, October 18th 2014. Trans-Tasman Rugby at its best. Australia vs New Zealand. 45,186 supporters.
The 2015 Bledisloe Cup is in Sydney in August. Look out for early ticketing and travel packages early next year. Sydney is a great place to visit even more so when you can combine it with a HAKA. Dont be left out, plan your trip now!
Irene Isaacson travelled at her own expense.