We caught up with our friend Luke from Taranaki back in June and he asked us if we wanted tickets for any of the All Blacks end of year tour matches as he had access to them. Watching the All Blacks play at Twickenham – oh yes please!
On Saturday morning we caught the tube out to Gunnersbury and walked to the City Barge Pub. Luke had told us that Steinlager were having a supporters club event there and there would be a couple of ex All Blacks there. We got there and a lady greeted us and asked us if we were here for the Steinlager Supporters Club event. Of course we were (actually we didn’t have much idea what was going on) so she went and got us a beanie and scarf each – result : )
They were filming a promotional clip and I spotted Piri Weepu and Nick Evans. Steve thought he better get a beer – it was 10.40am after all! They then did an informal question and answer session which was very funny. Nick Evans has been in the UK for 7 months and was wearing a suit, Piri has been here for 7 weeks and was in his casuals. Someone asked him how long it would be before he started wearing a suit – his response “never, you can take the boy out of Wainuomata but you can’t take the Wainuiomata out of the boy”. They discussed whether Julian Savea is better than Jonah Lomu – Nick thought he was but Piri’s loyalties lay with Jonah after having spent so much time with Jonah over the years.
They did a photo session after the question and answer session and I thought why not – up close and personal with the boys that have worn black – good stuff.
Luke’s contacts who I think have the distribution rights for Steinlager in the UK had organised taxis for us to the game – we were feeling pretty special at this stage. The night before I had been studying the train and bus timetables from the pub to the ground. We were then dropped at the “carpark party” where they back the car in full of beer, wine and food, erect a marquee and wallah a “carpark party”. On our way to the party we saw Craig Norgate another old friend from Taranaki so organised to catch up with him later on.
We met a few other Kiwis at the party as well as some English supporters so the banter was good fun. The beer, wine and food flowed. I then wanted to get into the ground to check it out – the anticipation levels were high. We got to our seats which were quite high up in the corner so we had a good view of the All Blacks try line in the second half. It was awesome – what a stadium.
They had a brass band and rolled out the NZ & English flags prior to the singing of the national anthems. We stood and sang proud through the NZ national anthem and thought it was a good Kiwi effort. It was nothing compared to the English national anthem – wow, it was loud and proud. Next up was one of my favourite parts of an All Blacks game – the haka – they went with Kapa O Pango. Our friends had told us you won’t hear the haka as the English will drown it out with Swing Low Sweet Chariot which they did. The singing was amazing and for this one occasion I didn’t mind the haka being drowned out – its not everyday you get to hear that.
Being quite high up you could see the plays of the game quite clearly, and in some instances you knew what was going to happen before it happened. We did, however, feel a bit removed from the game because we are so used to watching it on TV with a commentary. It was hard to work out what was happening with some of the referees calls at times – in saying that, he had a brain explosion so having a commentary may not have helped that anyway : )
Royce, also a fellow Taranakite was sitting next to me and had a good rugby knowledge so did a bit of interpreting for me. It was good to see the AB’s keep chipping away at the English and eventually you could see the English tire so the AB’s victory was well deserved. It started raining in the second half but was coming in towards the other side of the grandstand – we were lovely and dry up in our cheap seats.
After the game we headed back to the carpark party where more food and alcohol was flowing. It was raining quite persistently now but we had enough shelter that we didn’t get too wet. We then organised to meet another friend from Taranaki, Lulu Warren, back at the City Barge Pub. We tried to get taxis but even three hours after the game that was an impossibility – apparently these carpark parties are quite the thing so lots of people hang around after the game. We walked to Twickenham train station instead and caught the train to Richmond before catching a taxi to the pub.
Getting on the train at Twickenham was fun – there were lots of people waiting to get on and the boys had said “make sure you get on this train”. I nearly got muscled sideways and out of reach of the doors before I made a final push and got on the train – the boys who had been behind me managed to get on the train before me and save me a seat : )
Lulu was waiting for us and Craig had also joined us so it was a great Kiwi Dairies reunion – lots of laughs catching up on various people’s happenings.
About 11pm we were starting to hit the wall so after saying farewell we walked back to the tube. We got back to the hotel about 12.30am managing to catch the last tube. We were stuffed – it had been a big day. An awesome day though making lifetime memories.
Twickenham Stadium (usually known as just Twickenham or Twickers) is a stadium located in Twickenham, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It is the largest stadium in the world devoted solely to the sport of rugby union, it is the second largest stadium in the UK after Wembley Stadium and the fifth largest stadium in Europe. The stadium is the home of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), and as such primarily a venue for rugby union and hosts England’s home test matches, as well as the Middlesex Sevens, the Aviva Premiership final, the LV Cup, Heineken Cup matches and Barbarian F.C. home matches. The stadium is considered an icon of English rugby union and the 2009/2010 season saw Twickenham celebrate its centenary.
Although the ground is usually only occupied by rugby union, it has in the past hosted a number of other events, such as concerts by Rihanna, Iron Maiden, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Genesis, U2, The Rolling Stones, The Police, Eagles, R.E.M. and Lady Gaga. It has also been the host of Rugby League’s Challenge Cup final. The stadium has also been used annually for over 50 years to host Conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses.