Posts Tagged ‘rugby’

Day 2 didn’t start well as I had some trouble at the gate. The stadium has stringent rules about what you can and can’t bring in, rules that I’d looked up in advance thankfully as the “what you need to know” information came in an email about halfway through the day before the tournament started, a bit late for people to adjust. “A small clutch purse 4 1/2″ by 6 1/2″ ” was part of the worse-than-TSA rules and mine came in at about 5″ x 8″ as well as only about 1/2″ in thickness, good enough for day one but not two. Not only that but I saw plenty of people with items that extremely exceeded or flouted the rules. Sigh. Not the way to start the day. I was not happy!

As mentioned yesterday, many fans wear costumes. I didn’t catch most of them on camera, but there were some escaped convicts near us. There were people dress in fake chain mail armor, Irish fans in green tutus, Romans in their togas, and so on. There was also a group of men in Speedos and nothing else but thankfully they were quite a distance from us. No need to make me nauseous! We’d discussed dressing up but it never came to anything.

Rugby fans are as enthusiastic as any fans around but unlike soccer/football fans who get into fights, wreck grandstands, and send death threats to players they feel didn’t perform well, most rugby fans just want to have fun while supporting their favorite teams. Of all the teams, Fiji had the most fans and flags even though there were plenty US fans in attendance. Three of the Fiji supporters sat in front of us and when they left for a time, we told them we’d watch their seats. They didn’t come back for several hours and we wondered what had happened, finding out later that lots of people are there mostly to watch their teams play and then go back to their vehicles to tail gate until the next game. We were there to watch all the games, so we mostly stayed in place, sustained by the snacks I’d packed and plenty of water. I was happy to find we weren’t far from drinking fountains and one of those spots where you can refill water bottles. At $5 for a water in the stadium, I figure we saved about $50 just on water.

When these three came back, they thanked us for keeping their places (not that we had to run anyone off) and bought me a lemonade as a thank-you. Later another lemonade followed. And after another prolonged absence, they came back with food not only for them but something for us to share.

The Hawaiian chicken was SO good but we felt bad taking all that without something in return, hence the four beers for $75, an absolutely ridiculous price but when you’re in the stadium, you’re captive. Meeting them made day 2 even more fun and we talked about seeing them again in February as we’ll be trying to get the same seats.

The winners of the tournament were the New Zealand All-Blacks, a perennial rugby power but held back in the hunt for the series title this year by COVID flight restrictions that kept them as well as Fiji out of a number of the first tournaments. Confetti shot from a confetti canon obscured the players.

The series championship went to Australia, giving them a double as the women won the women’s series as well. My Blitzboks ended two points away from taking the series. I have hopes that in the World Cup tournament in Cape Town in less than two weeks, they’ll play the way they did during the first part of the series. But no matter the outcome, we had a wonderful time and plan to be back in February for the LA Sevens 2022-23 series. In the meantime, I’ll be looking for a see-through bag that will fit in the shoebox-sized box at the gate and will put all my odds and ends either in there or in my pants pocket. Can’t wait! And yes, Brian, I’ll have not only a hat but lots of suntan lotion along with everything else. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even be in costume. 🙂

Here’s how we do a tournament. Get up at 3:30 am, driving straight through to California, spend the day with daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, go to bed, get up early, pack a gallon Ziploc bag with various snack foods (all that’s allowed to be brought in), grab two bottle of water each, and head to the stadium for a 9:20 am game. Phew!

The first obstacle to negotiate after paying $30 for parking (and being sure to remember where you parked) is to hope you can get your items through almost TSA-level security. There aren’t many people there for the first games as you can tell from the almost empty stadium.

The sevens series began in Dubai back in November of 2021 and traveled to Malaga, Seville, Singapore, Vancouver, Toulouse, London, and finally LA, close enough for us to get to easily and combine with a grandson visit. Win-win. Not saying we wouldn’t have loved to watch in one or more of the other cities, but the cost of going to LA was much cheaper. 🙂

Although we should be rooting for the US team, my heart belongs to the Blitzboks of South Africa. Ever since starting to watch, I’ve loved their intensity and play although they unfortunately were rather flat at this tournament. Also unfortunately for both me and the team, my favorite player Selvyn Davids wasn’t in LA due to injury. Here they are getting ready to play Argentina.

One of the fun things about sevens rugby tournaments is that fans dress up in all sorts of costumes and everyone has a good time. We didn’t dress up and didn’t have any team paraphernalia but I fell into conversation with fans from South Africa. This woman apologized for how the team was playing, introduced me to her mom saying that I knew all about the team, let us wrap up in her flag for this shot, and then went off and bought me a small SA flag. That’s all part of the fun

Other than South Africa not doing well, the only downside was that my face got rather sunburned. After the games, we headed over to our daughter’s for a bit of family time and a drink before heading back to our AirBnB for the night. Were we ever ready to sleep and try to recover for Day 2.

What a weekend! We watched 45 rugby 7s matches, met lots of nice people, and had a blast. It’s late and bed is calling but I’ll be posting pictures and photos tomorrow. Spoiler alert. The New Zealand All Blacks won the tournament even though Australia took the entire series. At the end of the presentation, the All Blacks did one of their famous hakas one, I was told by a New Zealand fan, that’s a thanks to the fans. No matter the haka, I always love them and I hope you do too. See you soon for a peek at the fun. Tomorrow we make the switch to family time, specifically grandson fun. 🙂

For more about the haka (very interesting) click here.

By Saturday afternoon, Bill and I will have reached another milestone on our trip together through life–28 years of marriage.  It’s been quite a ride!

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The first time I saw a rugby game in grad school, courtesy of an invitation by a British friend who was playing, I didn’t think there were many (perhaps any) rules. It appeared to me to be closely akin to throwing a ball out at recess in the middle of a bunch of first or second graders and saying, “Get it”, although hopefully at that level, the ensuing mayhem would be on a much milder level and sans the blood streaming down a face or two. Eventually I realized there were rules…but that the mayhem not only remained, but was rejoiced in, even when the “old boys” got together, creaking and groaning, to commiserate about the good old days and good old plays. (And believe you me, they remember every single one of those plays.)

Last year, our younger daughter and I gathered with other rugby fans at a nearby Irish pub, and with a draft or two of Guinness for me, to watch New Zealand’s All-Blacks defeat France 8-7, in New Zealand. We had a great time and there’s absolutely nothing in sports like watching the All Black’s perform the haka before a game:

However, the real reason I’m thankful for rugby is that years ago, I attended a game on a day where I had nothing else to do, in response to an invitation from a couple of friends who’d been helping me coach the boys’ soccer team at the high school at which I was teaching. And not too many post-games later at the local roadhouse, (now a much more upscale restaurant with glass-topped tables but no panache), a player looking for a spot to sit and eat his hamburgers in a room so filled that only a few seats were left at already-occupied tables, asked if he could sit with me, and that player eventually became my husband.

He doesn’t play rugby anymore (although he still remembers every play, injury and concussion), but today’s his birthday and I want to acknowledge that if it weren’t for rugby, I’d have missed out on the best person in my life! So here’s to rugby and happy birthday to my husband!  Ruck on.