New Zealand 2005

Journal 8 - A Rugby Hungry Nation

Gallery 4 Gallery 4 European countries are passionate about football (soccer), but New Zealand is arguably just as crazy about the sport they love, rugby!

During week 2 of the 2005 Super 12 Rugby schedule, I was in attendance at Jade Stadium in Canterbury to watch the Crusaders host the Chiefs. A few weeks later, the Crusaders played away from home against cross-country rival Blues from Auckland.

Josh Byler and I thought this would be a good opportunity to go to a sports bar and watch the game while noticing how strongly the people of Christchurch support their team, even if they're playing away from home. We arrived at The Holy Grail Sports Bar prior to kickoff and the three-tier; stadium like seating bar and restaurant was completely packed. Byler and I were watching the game from the "standing room" only section, trying to avoid all the waiters who were darting in and out of the packed house with food that poor American college students couldn't afford.

When I entered the sports bar and realized that we would be standing near the back because all 3 levels were full, I didn't have to worry about being able to see the game because televisions and big screen projections were everywhere! There were 3 projection screens and one of them was larger than most U.S. movie theatre screens. If you didn't have a good view of the projection TV, then you could count on being able to watch the action on one of their many flat screen televisions. Two TV's were even outside of The Holy Grail for those passing by or needing a smoke break, and several televisions were even in the restrooms!

The atmosphere of the "sold out" sports bar definitely didn't disappoint. From kickoff you could feel the electricity and intensity rise in the building. I felt like I was actually in the stadium again watching the game first hand because the fans were intently yelling and cheering for their team. At halftime after a pretty heated first half, unexpectedly the Crusaders cheerleaders came running out on the restaurants stage and did a dance routine like they would if there was a home game.

In the second half when the Crusaders began to take the game into their own hands, that didn't stop the fans at the sports bar from becoming more loud and intense. This is without a doubt a sports nation that eats, sleeps, and lives rugby.

In closing, Byler and I would like to give a shout out to our suitemates in Maplewood first and say wish you could have shared this experience with us.

- Jason Ritter

Other current program:
Latin America
Spain