Homegrown Banana #6 – World in Union

by - Monday, October 17, 2011

currently: WOO ALL BLACKS!

If you've been living in a cave that has no power, or if you don't live in NZ - you may have not heard that the All Blacks (aka the New Zealand rugby union team) bet our "rivals" the Wallabies (the Australian rugby union team) in the epic Semi-Final game yesterday night. It was AMAZING.
I was watching it in the comfy of my home and cheering at the TV every time an All Black was bolting for the try line. Fantastic!
Anyway, I wrote this before the game and was printed in last week's debate magazine. My last Homegrown Banana column for this year! To read the previous five columns, check it out here.

Homegrown Banana #6 – World in Union
The Webb Ellis Cup - last won by NZ in the first Rugby World Cup in 1987.
I’ll admit it; a couple of weeks before the Rugby World Cup had even started, I already felt I was over the whole deal. At the time, it had felt that the news was always filled with “preparation this”, “waterfront that”, “transport so-and-so” or “Jersey price whatever”. It had become so tiring to listen to, that “Captain Buzz Kill” in me wanted to ignore the World Cup and all its associations for the seven week length.

But like most people, I got sucked into the all the activity. By the time the second All Blacks game came around, I found myself following rugby scores, knowing match timetables, criticising Sonny Bill Williams whenever I could, and using rugby terminologies I didn’t realise I knew. Even my assignments have to be put on pause so I can dedicate 90 minutes of my life to watching people cheer for bulky men throwing themselves on top of a ball. I know my interest in rugby union will be fleeting, but I’m glad for the disruption the Rugby World Cup has put on our lives.
Today, you can’t seem to go down a single street without seeing at least an All Blacks flag or two. Town centres are decorated with signs supporting their adopted second teams. Cars can drive by with as many as 4 flags attached to their windows. Or if you’re a Tongan who owns a van, the whole exterior is covered in red and white flags, and so is your house, and your fence, and your face…and probably your cat. And though we joke about how full on and overdone some supporters seem to be, it is inspiring to see people being openly enthusiastic and supportive of their home roots, whether it’s New Zealand or not. Because let’s face it; Auckland, as ‘large’ (large meaning within New Zealand) it appears to be at times, it is not a very exciting city. Our holidays are few, our festivals are small, and we’re prone to click attending to events on Facebook that we don’t intend to go to. So when ever do we get to see so much country pride and celebrations at one time? Well, barely ever.
What needs to be remembered is that this event will not last for a long time. Those people who complain that we’re performing too many haka flash mobs – well what’s the chance you’ll see them again after the World Cup? Or those who whinge and say we were being racist and unfair by supporting any team that plays against Australia – well when do those minor teams ever get the chance of attention, let alone have the chance to encounter it? And to those still going on about the transport issues on Opening Night – get over it please, because there is all this other positive activity going on that you should focus on and let go of the issue. We’re finally in the centre of all the action, seeing other cultures come to us, seeing different cultures being showcased in our own backyard, and at the same time everyone is getting a worldly experience within one event. You can try to avoid it, but as a New Zealander, we’re still involved in this memorable part of history. 
So you know what Rugby World Cup? I’ll forgive your overpriced food costs. I’ll excuse the excess traffic around the stadiums. I’ll let go of my issues with you changing my bus on Friday afternoons. And I’ll ignore you hiring back Wayne Barnes. Because what you and the odd-shaped ball brought to New Zealand is an excuse to celebrate who we are. And hopefully, to show the world we’re not actually an Australian state.

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