Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Rugby virgin no more

Saturday night a friend of mine invited a bunch of us over to her house for dinner, and afterwards we went to the local pub to watch the quarterfinal match between New Zealand and France.

I had never been in a pub before, so the atmosphere was new to me. This was a surprisingly large establishment for downtown Geneva, and it was still packed to the gills. We barely managed to squeeze our way downstairs in front of one of the screens... it was standing room only. People kept pushing past us with their food and beer, and I don't see how they managed to get through the crowd without dropping it all.

Before the match, right after the national anthems were played, the All Blacks performed their haka (a Maori posture dance).

I was told that the French didn't have a chance at winning--that the best they could hope to do was tie up the score. And by the end of the first half, that appeared to be true, as the score was 13-3. The crowd at the pub was dominated by French fans, and they hadn't had much to get excited about yet. But early in the second half, New Zealand got a penalty and was down a man, and all of the sudden the French fans had a lot to yell and cheer about. Chants of "Allez les Bleus!" thundered through the establishment, making everything shake. The final score was 18-20 for France, and motorcycles were zooming up and down the streets, honking their horns and generally being celebratory.

By that point my knees were very sore from having stood in one place on a concrete floor for an hour and a half, and I was relieved to get outside and take a breath of smoke-free air, but I definitely enjoyed watching my first rugby match.

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