Before I arrived to New Zealand I was not interested in Rugby. Coming from Mexico city I was familiarized with the fact that soccer was the only sport that could stop a 24 million people city and make it celebrate or protest in public plazas when a local team would win or lose.
I grew up thinking it was the only sport that was able to unite people from different political ideals for a 90 minute match or create a divorce if the couple would disagree on which team to support. I was not an aficionada myself but for 5 years I dated a guy who would watch, play and breathed futbol (how we call it)…So I ended up playing it myself while in high school, participated in la ola at local stadiums and yell in front of the Tv when the national Mexico team would play at a soccer world cup.
That changed when I arrived to Wellington 9 years ago…
I was introduced to Rugby for the first time and I could understand it as I could understand the kiwi accent. NADA! I would watch in amazement how this bunch of mean looking guys would create this human muegano (caramel covered candy that is made of different pieces and looks like a knot) every few minutes, passing the ball backwards and trying to advance sideways!
It took me 4 years to understand it… sort of. But what I loved the most was the Haka at the start of the games when the All blacks were playing, it would give me goosebumps! (still does). It was not strange for me to see that this country is as passionate of Rugby as Mexico is for soccer. That I could understand. It is a whole culture, a whole new world. Not only there are more matches a year than sunny days, but parties and festivals are organized around them. Each year there is like a small version of the FIFA world cup called the Sevens… International Rugby teams made of 7 players instead of the usual 15 come to Wellington and have a 14 minute match (made of two halves of 7 minutes each) against each other in two days. People will dress up in the most crazy themes and would go out into the streets to party and parade before each match. This event is quite informal and happens in February.
The serious Rugby happens every four years since 1987 where about 16 nations compete for the The Rugby World Cup. The Rugby World cup of 2011 will be hosted in New Zealand on September. Kiwis are pretty excited about it…
New Zealand will expect around 43,0000 visitors from around the globe. One point six million tickets have been issued and around a million have been sold so far. Wellington would have a little taste of over population!
Even I am excited and already learning the basic rules of International Rugby along with the lingo. So for this year coming cafes, bars and restaurants will be buzzing and stadiums will be the playground for strong, half-naked, tough, sweaty men from France, South Africa, England, Australia, Tonga, Argentina, Japan, etc tangling and untangling for almost 2 hours. I can only say I am lucky I have a 42¨ flat plasma TV!
Watch the Haka performed by the All Blacks (national Rugby team) on youtube
If you’re planning a trip to NZ for Rugby World Cup 2011, Wellington is the ideal base. As well as hosting five pool matches and two quarter finals, Wellington is at the centre of the country – meaning you’ll be perfectly positioned to explore New Zealand’s ‘stadium of four million’. Read more→
Visit the official Rugby World Cup website for the Wellington Region –www.WellingtonNZ2011.com.