England 16 – Scotland 12



It’s curious, isn’t it, that whenever England come out to play, the locals seem to dig up tenuous genealogical links to ancestors from far-off parts of the globe (well, most places are far-off from New Zealand, but you know what I mean), but none of those seems to be England-born. And true to form there are a large number of Scottish supporters with antipodean accents (not just Kiwis) at and around Eden Park for the Group B clash against our skirt-wearing, deep-fried-everything-eating, mostly-incomprehensible Northern neighbours.

[By the way, I once watched Rab C. Nesbitt with subtitles and it’s actually quite funny…]

However, this time they do have a genuine case, since many of the relatives from back in the 1800s were Scottish, as noted in a previous post. That said, a great deal of them were English too… Anyway, having lost to the Argies, the Scots are going to need all the support they can get (especially considering that so far this seems to be a bad day for teams in blue *cough* France *cough*), so I suppose that levels the playing field somewhat.

Cookie Monster Love Rugby!

Speaking of the field, this is the biggest venue we’ve entered thus far. In fact it’s the biggest of the tournament, and the venue for two quarters, both semis and the final itself. Disappointingly, I find myself in the upper echelons of a temporary, open-air stand, upon which the Heavens have decided to deliver a round of suitably British weather. To add to my woes, I’m mostly surrounded by Scots (see photo), and since due to unfortunate ticketing I’m at the opposite end of the stadium to my sibling, I hunch under my hood and hope even more that England win.

The less said about the match itself, the better. “I enjoyed the last 3 minutes” would be a good summary, along with side-dish comments like “Why do we always have to win the hard way?” and “What the Hell is up with Jonny Wilkinson?!” (To see a video I made of how to successfully convert a rugby ball, admittedly not in front of a 65,000-strong crowd, click here.) I have to ask the English chaps behind me if there’s any way we can come 2nd in the group – thus setting up a quarters match against the hosts – but am assured it’s unlikely, which at least made the threat of loss less worrying.

A last-gasp try by Ashton seals the win, and an excellent kick from Flood makes everyone wonder why he wasn’t on about 60 minutes earlier. Either Jonny is supremely confident that he can kick them, or the voice in his head is saying “You always get these. You missed the last one, so you’ll surely get this one!”.

But hey, it’s a win, England top the group, and bring on France – preferably the same team that lost to Tonga.

Click to Enlarge (it looks much better, trust me)

Out into the street we all slowly file, and whilst waiting for my brother I try to console a depressed Scot, slumped on the step next to me, flag draped around him. It’s funny, you can never say “Unlucky” to a Scotsman after they’ve lost to the Auld Enemy. No matter how genuinely you say it, they always take it badly….

Ah well, time for more beers.



The morning after the night before. My head hurts.

In the bar after the game, we get chatting to a few surprisingly-friendly ex-pat Scots. One wife gets a bit over-friendly, despite her hubbie being a yard away. I drink more in the hope she’ll leave me alone (she definitely won’t get more attractive). We go back to theirs, fortunately she passes out, and us three lads play pool in his impressive pad until 4am. I wake up with red and white warpaint still on my face (and the pillow), in a bed with a Twister duvet cover (I’m beginning to think they’re swingers…) Mark, meanwhile, spends the night in the pink-clad bed of a 9-year-old girl. We stagger back to the campsite just in time to be kicked out, and head South.

All is good.