Blue Bulls vs Sharks

May 20, 2007

Durban SharksI enjoy rugby.

Not as much as football, or NFL as they call it here, but I do enjoy it.

Thing is, most games I’ve watched have been been a lot of pile ups, running in a line, and dancing. So yesterday, we took a little time in the afternoon to watch the game with the pilots. Half of them were from Pretoria rooting for the Blue Bulls, half of them from Durban rooting for the Sharks. It’s apparently the first time two SA teams had ever been in the Super 14 finals.

Pretoria Blue BullsHoly living crap it was awesome. Right in the beginning, just as I was getting over the name, “Blue Bulls,” a Shark jumped to catch a kick, a Bull comes along and takes out his legs, knocking the Shark player head over heels. A fine tackle in football, but illegal in rugby. The tackler, Bryan Habana, was hit with a penalty but not tossed out. The rest of the game had its fair share of pile ups and lines, but there were break aways just like in football: One player would get the ball, shuffle his feet and break past the defensive line to gain a few yards.

The game even went down to the wire and was all but tied up by Habana with a last minute try between the posts, fully redeeming himself. A successful kick through and the Bulls clinched it with seconds to spare.

It was really something. Given my football watching this past season consisted of the 10-minute-weekly-Eagles-game-redux from iTunes and about 4 minutes of the Superbowl in Juba, it was fun as hell to have this. Brandy and Coke flowed like wine and the pilots even broke out some smoked mussels and crackers they’d been saving for a special occasion. This game was like the Superbowl to these guys, and I was invited. But that two SA teams were matched made it special, like if the Eagles played the Steelers next January. The only bigger game than this was the Tri-Nations, but that seems more like the Pro Bowl. The Finals here was the local teams. The Super 14 includes teams from Australia and New Zealand, which are notoriously strong in the sport.

It made for a good Saturday afternoon.