Baa-Baas entertain on field and in the stand

RUBBING SHOULDERS: Dr Airdre Grant with Tagele Naiyaravoro at the Barbarians v Classic Wallabies match in Lismore.
RUBBING SHOULDERS: Dr Airdre Grant with Tagele Naiyaravoro at the Barbarians v Classic Wallabies match in Lismore. Sophie Moeller

I ADORE rugby. I'm a Kiwi - what else would you expect?

As a youngster I went with my father to many a sweaty, muddy game. Rugby is in my blood.

Did you know that when every New Zealand child is born the government issues them with a baby lamb and set of rugby boots? It's true, I swear.

I've had it explained to me why rugby is not the same in Australia. Apparently it's a class thing. Over here rugby is seen as the domain of private schools, whereas league and Aussie rules are for everyone.

I admit I have come to appreciate those sports. They are very quick, although the league idea of a scrum is laughable - more like a wee group hug. (Go boys! Good to see you bonding on field.)

But I remain a die-hard rugby tragic.

When my Australian friends are being mean and attempting to act superior to me, I simply say those magic words "Bledisloe Cup”. I find that soon puts things to rights.

I was thrilled to learn the Barbarians and Wallabies were coming to Lismore. What a treat.

Imagine my delight when I found my seat in the stand was right next to the Barbarian team members who were sitting out the game.

These handsome big men, with their size 16 shoes and hands as big as plates, were so nice. Gentle and well-mannered, they sat with their arms loosely slung around each other and watched the game intently.

The game was good, with lots of substitutions as they tried out players and combinations.

I asked Tagele Naiyaravoro, great Fijian player and my viewing companion in the stands, if there was moment in a game when suddenly the team "gels” and everything becomes fluid and magical.

Yes, he said, it's rare and it's awesome when it happens.

While the Baa-Baas and the Wallabies battled it out, below us people were eating chips and ice creams, drinking beers, roaring with enthusiasm, clapping and gasping (when a particularly powerful tackle brought a player down ) and generally having a great day out.

Rugby is such a great sport to watch but, as I said, I adore it.

Topics:  barbarians

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