By Fraser Walker-Pearce
BONE-CRUNCHING tackles, monstrous fends, lightning fast ball speed, and a roaring crowd on a Friday night.
Except this wasn’t the Geelong Cats against the GWS Giants, (although the scoreline was not dissimilar) this was my Friday night at the rugby union.
But before you groan and sigh and stop reading altogether, I implore you to give it a chance and read on a little further about my team, the Canterbury Crusaders, and your team, the Melbourne Rebels.
In a night of firsts, it was my first time experiencing AAMI Park, and it was my first rugby match in more than two years.
And it was also my first time going to a sports match with my girlfriend’s dad . . .
I would be more than happy to go back and do all my firsts again — I loved every minute at AAMI Park, I can’t wait to get back into rugby now that I have someone to go with, and I’d even offer to take the scary six foot four mountain named Paul along too.
But I have a feeling Paul won’t be so keen this time.
It’s not that we didn’t get along or that we didn’t have much to talk about — because we did.
He expected the Rebels would get pumped by the reigning champions, and they did (55-10; I correctly predicted the first try scorer).
But unlike the times sat on the couch watching Paul’s AFL team with him, we were watching it live, and we were watching my sport.
So instead of sitting quietly, making the odd comment of ‘‘great mark’’, or ‘‘gee these Tiges are looking good’’ like a good foreigner should, I was a little more animated than that.
Paul chose a spot in the stadium where he felt his Rebels scarf was more welcome than my Crusaders top, and we settled into the game.
By half time however he was visibly leaning further and further away from the loud ‘encouragement’ and ‘advice’ I was offering (yelling) to my Crusaders and sometimes the ref.
I restrained myself on a number of occasions from hurtling abuse at Rebels players as I felt I may have been outnumbered on the night.
It’s something about watching my hometown heroes in a completely different city that brought it out in me.
Names that would mean next to nothing to Victorians: Mo’unga, Havili, Whitelock, Tamanivalu; but mean everything to me.
By the end of the night most of the Rebels fans we had chosen to sit near had moved a little deeper into the stands, away from the resident lunatic Cantabrian. Either due to the score line or me, I can’t be sure.
Next time we’ll go to an AFL match so Paul can have his turn on the soap box and I can sink into my seat.