I have absolutely NO idea about rugby. I’ve only ever thought of it as a lot of beefy men running around a large sports ground trying to catch a tiny ball. So I wasn’t enthused when the step-son (who is a rugby captain for his school team back in France) suggested we take him to the Crusaders versus Bulls game.

Who or what I asked are the Crusaders? A bunch of dudes on horseback pretending to be the Knights of the Round Table? And bulls? Anything to do with the bull running festival in Spain? (which is really just cruelty IMHO as the bull is terrified).

Nah. Turns out the Crusaders are a Christchurch-based rugby team and the Bulls are based in Pretoria, South Africa. The one and only time I attended a rugby match was back in Australia with my Dad. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old. Dad was a fan but I had no idea what was going on. Not sure either if it was rugby league or rugby union.

Anyway. I reluctantly went along on a cold Saturday night to the AMI stadium in Christchurch. Thousands of people were there and all seemed to be barracking for the Crusaders. I pity any South African supporters who might have gone along. I noted heavy security too but the step-son tells me that rugby is a gentleman’s sport and only English soccer attracts hooligans.

We started off with dinner at some tavern in Merivale. Great food actually. Very pub-like and warm as toast. Then off to the game with me rugged up like a polar bear. Good call on my part because it was friggin’ cold.

The whole show starts off with a bunch of dudes riding around the stadium on horseback, dressed up as knights going off to the Crusades. Complete with wielding swords. This attracted my attention – some nice looking horses. Wouldn’t mind a part-time job doing that. I’m right into performing in front of a huge crowd.

Then the Bulls came out. Not too much hand-clapping I noticed. Then wait…wait…the Crusaders run out and the crowd goes wild. Step-son tells me that Dan Carter is out there. That’s when I became somewhat interested as he’s pretty easy on the eye.

And so begins 80 minutes of beefy men running around the ground chasing some white ball; leaping up into the air like ballet dancers in something called a line-out; and having several group hugs in something called a scrum. Apparently, this dust-up between beefy men kicked off the first week of the 2012 Super Rugby Finals Series for a battle between two teams that have combined for ten championships. The final score was Crusaders 28 Bulls 13. Guess this means Christchurch won and the Bulls were flattened.

The part I most enjoyed was when Dan Carter kicked goals. You could watch the huge screen and see a close-up of his face: pure concentration going on there; coupled with a few stares at the goal posts. Guess he was sizing up the distance. After sizing things up for what seemed ages, he’d walk to the side of the ball and it looked as though he was casually approaching it. He made it seem effortless. And the close-ups of him certainly kept me interested. 🙂

I didn’t take my Nikon along as I thought there would be nothing interesting to photograph. Here are a couple of the Crusading knights revving up the audience before the game starts.

The Crusaders are in red shirts and somewhere out there is the delectable Dan Carter. Dang – should have taken along binoculars!

Oh yeah baby, group hug amongst beefy men. Wait for me guys!