This weekend saw the start of the Southern hemisphere version of the Six Nations Rugby Championship. It’s just four nations taking part down here though, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina. It seems a bit harsh on the likes of Fiji and Western Samoa, but I don’t imagine they bring much to the table by way of telly money.
I like the inclusiveness of the northern hemisphere Six Nations tournament, particularly the insistence that, despite being crap at rugby, Scotland and Italy can continue to participate so that the fans of the proper teams can enjoy a weekend in Edinburgh or Rome.
The 2014 competition kicked off with a draw between New Zealand and Australia which I watched on the telly whilst Jen and I had lunch somewhere. The other fixture of the weekend saw South Africa host Argentina at the Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria and so we popped along to watch that one live.
We’ve been to the rugby at Loftus Versfeld before and so I now know how it works. There’s a small bar inside the ground, but you can‘t take your drinks away from it. Far better to drink on the field outside and then head in just before kick-off.
I’d bought tickets for the stand nearest to the outside bar and shortly before kick-off we went in through gate eight to our seats in Row A of the upper tier. They were fine but our view was slightly obscured by a safety railing and so next time I’ll probably go for Row B.
The Argentinian national anthem was largely ignored by the crowd, most of whom continued to chat away indifferently. The South African tune was better received with quite a few of the home fans joining in. I’ve listened to a lot of different anthems lately and have concluded that most of them are absolute bollocks. Why do we bother with them?
If we are going to keep on with the nationalistic nonsense then lets at least update it a bit. I’d quite like to hear The Jam’s ‘Liza Radley’ sung before England matches. Weller seems a pretty good example of Englishness to me, can you imagine a packed Twickenham and a line of twenty-three burly players bellowing out the rising crescendo of the last couple of lines?
“She’d kiss my face and say love means nothing at all,
She’d kiss my face and say life means nothing at all”
Maybe just me then.
The rain started as the anthems finished and unfortunately our front row seats in the upper tier were beyond the shelter of the roof. Luckily the game was nowhere near sold out and so we just moved upwards until we were under cover. As the rain got heavier and the wind blew it inwards we kept moving further back. Eventually we were perfectly placed to the extent that any further back and we’d have felt the rain from behind.
My mind wandered back to an Scotland v England clash at Murrayfield that my friend Paul and I had been to a few years ago. We’d hiked up Arthur’s Seat on the morning before the game and had been caught in similar torrential rain. As we were only in Edinburgh for the day we had no spare clothes and had to pop into Jenners for a complete new set each.
Our seats at the ground that day were exposed to the elements and once the rain returned we decided to skip the remainder of the game and clear off to watch it in the pub instead. No way could we have turned up soaking wet for a second time at Jenners.
My mind also wandered to the feral kittens that live beneath our decking. I wasn’t sure if they’d ever been rained on before. If they had, it won’t as been anything like as heavy as this rain.
I’ve taken to feeding them tins of pilchards, which strikes me as somewhat indulgent when you consider that at twenty rand a tin, pilchards wouldn’t be something that a lot of the locals could afford to buy to eat themselves.
To tell the truth, I’d feel awkward giving tinned pilchards to random locals and have even less desire to watch some African fella eating them on the patio. I enjoy it when the cats turn up for their tea though.
Anyway, the game. The heavy rain made ball handling difficult and standing up even harder. South Africa opened the scoring with a first minute try and then the sides traded a couple of penalties each in a 13-6 home win.
We stayed until the end in the hope that the rain would stop and thankfully by the time we left it was down to the odd spot of drizzle in the air.