Dunedin, New Zealand – Super Rugby

[ 3 ] June 5, 2012 |

Rugby is an obsession in New Zealand and rightly so.  Winners of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and home to more than three times the number of Super Rugby Championships as South Africa or Australia – Kiwi’s eat, sleep, and LIVE Rugby.

Kiwi Rugby is Life

Ok so I’ve watched parts of one or two rugby games in my life.  Mostly during the Rugby world cup held ever four years, but to be honest, I couldn’t tell you what’s really going on.  I knew the basics, you can’t pass the ball forward, etc., but I had no clear about the details about how you play the game.  So without even really talking about it, Alison and I were determined not to leave New Zealand without cutting our teeth on at least one live Rugby match.  We searched and searched and finally, with only one more week in NZ, we just so happened to be in Dunedin on the day of an official Super Rugby match between the Highlanders of Central Otago (Dunedin) and the Crusaders of Christ Church.

At the Game

If your like me and know next to nothing about Rugby, let alone how their league works, then your probably asking yourself what in the heck is Super Rugby?  So the only three nations that really give hoot about Rugby are South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.  Super Rugby is the name of the league (similar to the NFL or the NBA in America) that encompasses all 16 professional rugby franchises in the three respective countries.  South Africa has 6 Super Rugby teams, Australia has 5, and New Zealand has 5 as well.  Now keep in mind that New Zealand has about 1/5th the population as Australia and 1/10th that of South Africa.  So the fact that New Zealand is home to three times (10 total) the number of Super Rugby Championships as the other two countries is really saying something.

Full House

Did I mention that Kiwi’s are crazy about Rugby?  What are they even crazier about? – Rugby rivalries!  And who is main rival of the Dunedin Highlanders?  You guessed it, the Christchurch Crusaders!  Given this level of enthusiasm, we should have guessed that finding tickets to the game would be difficult.  Thanks to Alison’s resourcefulness, a lot of sweet-talking, and the purchase of an All-Blacks Rugby jersey, we were able to snag two tickets to a completely sold out game the night before the match.  Good work Al.

Super Rugby Tickets!

Super excited about the game we pulled together as much free Highlander’s paraphernalia as we could and made our way to the game.  We waited for the gates to open and when they did, we soon found our seats situated next to another young Kiwi couple. Our extremely friendly Kiwi seatmates sensed our complete loss of understanding about what was going on, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves being educated on the intricacies of Rugby and the heritage of the sport in NZ.

Ready for the Game

The population of Dunedin is just over 100,000 making it the 7th largest city in New Zealand and by far the smallest city with a Super Rugby Franchise.  This combined with the fact that, on the night of our visit, the Dunedin Highlanders were playing the Christchurch Crusaders.  With 7 championship titles (of NZ’s 10) under their belts, the Crusaders are by far the most successful franchise in all of Super Rugby.  And these two teams are bitter rivals.  All this made for one heck of a Cinderella story that night – and all the more reason why we were rooting the underdog of underdogs, the Highlanders!

Start of the Game

Mid Game

Rugby Scrum

To make a long story short (and because there is no way on earth I could possibly describe what happened during the game), the Highlanders BARELY pulled the game out in the last few minutes of game play.  It was a night for the record books and I couldn’t imagine a better introduction to this high-energy sport.  Looks like I will be watching more Rugby in the future.  GO HIGHLANDERS!

Go Highlanders!

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Category: Blog, Destinations, Featured Posts, New Zealand, Pat's Blog

Comments (3)

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  1. Andy says:

    That’s awesome. I got my own rugby education this past Friday. Apparently a guy in our church played in college and semi-pro? in Augusta and Charleston. Now that i know the rules a little better I might be able to follow. The most confusing thing was that the line of scrimage moves! Glad to hear of you adventures. We miss you greatly!

  2. Tommy says:

    I’m. So. JEALOUS!!

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