Rugby at the Ranch

I don’t know the rules for Rugby. I’d be hard pressed to explain rules for any organized team sport to anyone. To state the obvious, I’m not big on watching sports, though I make exceptions for the Olympics or high-stakes finals (Stanley Cup) or the odd live game with friends. When in Rome, however…

The lovely lady at our motel suggested that the Ranch (a pub in town) might have a fireplace, and they definitely had a sandwich board saying they’d be playing the opening match on Friday night, so we headed out in time to catch the opening ceremonies.

I thought it would be jammed and that the crowd might be raucus. It was neither, but it was still fun enough. The opening ceremonies were cool but I don’t think anyone at the pub was overly interested in them. They got a little more interested when the All Blacks started slaughtering Tonga. And the ladies got very interested when one All Blacks player had to change his jersey on the pitch. Rwor.

We sat at the bar (originally tried going upstairs but it was empty, which was hardly the point) and a group of locals/regulars slowly amassed around us, who each had a beer mug with their named etched into it. We realized that named glasses hung all around the bar. The server didn’t have to be told when to bring out more drinks, and when she went to hand one guy the interact machine he hollered across his buddies, “savings, 6582”. Ah, small towns.

We laid low, drinking delicious beer, munching on delicious wedges, and trying to figure out the rules. Ok, Duncan figured it out and tried to explain it to me the dear patient man. It was fun, but as I said, far from bumpin’. I don’t know if it was because the All Blacks were shoo-ins, the stakes weren’t high, or this particular town, but I was left with the sense (much like at the welcome ceremony) that New Zealanders are restrained, polite fans. They whooped a bit when the All Blacks scored, to be sure. But in comparison to watching hockey in a bar in Canada? They coulda all been asleep. Maybe they’ll riot, er, get more excited closer to the finals?

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