We took our seats & watched the end of the warm up (surely the incorrect term on the night) which was only noteable in that the capt. of the Southland Boys was a 1.98m, 120kg prop & he's a schoolboy.......they sure breed 'em big down there but surely this is bordering on illegal.
Then it was time for the main event but not before having a 6 pack of something decent to drink (Speights) to warm us up. Lets hope they take out sponsorship at Jade soon so I don't have to suffer any more teetotal games there!
The teams sprint out (Irish sensibly in tracksuits, the ABs not) & line up for the Anthems. Some chap starts to sing in Maori & the crowd is silent but come into full song when the English verse is sung. Quite bizarre to an outsider & seems like PC gone too far again which leads us the concoction that they now sing for the Irish team; more PC nonsense.
The game started & so did a well-fueled compatriot behind us (I managed to drag Lady D & her family along for the ocassion also). Irish, Irish he slurred as best he could & he'll be able to tell all he was in Dunedin for the Ireland v AB game in '02 but I don't think he saw too much! Ireland start well & set the tone for the game. It was great to see us throw the ball around at every opportunity.
The first thing to notice was the amount of Irish fans in the crowd - fantastic & didn't we cheer & groan for the full game. Woods, O'Driscoll & Stringer were fantastic & the rest not far behind. The weather obviously had an effect on the game & all the handling errors - please take note all those who've been moaning non-stop all week.
Half-time came & it was off to recycle some of the speights & curse our missed opportunities. What a fiasco ensued. Never have I seen such a scrum for a piss & I missed the first 5 minutes of the second half - facilities leave a lot to be desired & a quantum leap behind Jade. Found out we nearly scored & cursed some more. Settled in for another intense 40mins, not pretty but intense, the way test rugby should be.
An "Ireland" chant went up on the terrace & the locals turned it into an Otago chant. This chant increased in volume when McDonnell came on. Mitchell & co. slipped up then by not putting on the other Otagoites afterwards - it would have got the crowd going some more & maybe the team as a result. A missed opportunity.
Finally a comment on the "feeling" coming from the crowd - it started gradually & as the game progressed worsened. The locals who were grumbling became more vociferous as Ireland continued to take the game to the ABs. I've heard a few rumblings before during my time here & read a fair bit on on the discussion board but frankly Saturday took on a new height of arrogance.
Ireland kept it close but to me never looked likely to win, but this victory wasn't enough to satiate the locals. Ireland have & probably will never be at the top in the rugby ladder but barring the ABs, we've beaten all other nations ocassionally & some more so. We aren't complete no hopers & can raise our game like Saturday & last November.
But no... victory wasn't enough. The ABs should not just beat Ireland but beat them well. It apalled me as did the booing at the end - you won for Christ's sake! I hope to never experience such an incident in an Ireland match, whatever the sport, even if we lose.
It is time a few so-called ABs supporters to pull their head in & look at the bigger picture - with the dawn of professionalship, gone are the days of the mighty ABs rolling over all before them. Now they need to accept that everyone else is catching up, in some cases are already on a par, & in the not too distant future will surpass the ABs. Time to change attitudes - yes expect to win always but accept defeat and always support your team.