Six Nations – Wales v Italy
My first ever rugby match, that is to say my first ever live and in person rugby match. I’ve seen plenty of rugby on TV but somehow never a live match.
I’ve lived in Wales since I was 11 and I didn’t even watch the school team play, nor have I ever ventured out to see Crickhowell or Brecon’s rugby teams.
I went to this match purely because I’d never seen a live game, and why not go and see a proper game. This was an International match between Wales and Italy. I’m not even going to try and explain what I know about rugby (it wouldn’t take long), who the best players are etc etc because I just don’t know.
Going to the match also ticked something off my Bucket List “Watch a Six Nations Match”, but now I’m thinking I need to see a match in each of the six venues; Millennium Stadium (Wales & done), Twickenham (England), Stade de France (France), Stadio Olympico (Italy), Aviva Stadium (Ireland) & Murrayfield (Scotland).
What I did know was going into this match Wales, who were favourites, had to win and that pressure within the team, the crowd and indeed the whole country was palpable in the stadium.
Here’s a few thoughts in no particular order from a novice rugby watcher
1. Despite being told “The atmosphere in the stadium is amazing”, I didn’t feel that today. I think that was down to the pressure I mentioned above. Everyone seemed nervous.
2. It’s very loud! The stadium announcements, the music, the crowd (eventually). I only noticed how loud it was when I got outside and my ears were ringing.
3. The woman sat next to me was very excitable, straight from the kick off she was dancing around in her seat, shouting at the players and the ref.
4. Some people pay a lot of money for good seats but dash off to the bar when the game is still playing, the same people also leave with ten minutes left on the clock.
5. The Millennium Stadium can hold 74,500 people, and it’s very big, but not so big that you feel distant from the pitch. Even though I was high up I felt close to the action.
6. George North is very fast, he also wants to be a linesman when he retires. I know this because for the first few times the ball was kicked into touch by an Italian, George would move towards the linesman and point to where he thought the line-out should be taken from.
7. Jamie Roberts is only 25 but looks 10 years older, for most of the game he moved like someone 20 years older and was being derided by those around me, and then he scored a quite wonderful try. Those around me soon changed their opinion of him.
8. Rugby is quite hard to follow without Eddie Butler, Brian Moore & Jonathan Davies telling me what is happening, and I wasn’t alone. Not having a commentary means it’s quite hard to understand what the referee has blown for. In the opening minutes Wales were awarded a penalty; I have no idea what for! Nor did those around me. Luckily I recorded the game (with a vague hope of seeing myself) so I can find out what it was for.
9. I’m easily distracted from the main action on the pitch. I found myself looking at replays on the big screen, the subs warming up, who the physio was treating, who Jason Mohammad was interviewing on the touchline all while the game was happening in front of me.
10. I think I was on the big screen. It was half time and the friend of Mrs Excitable started waving like mad. Like me Mrs Excitable was oblivious and had to ask her friend if they had been on the screen. Her friend said yes. Now as I didn’t see it I have no idea if I was on the screen or not, however I think I can cling to ‘I may have been on the big screen at the Millennium Stadium’.
11. It’s a small world. I did Jury Service in December with the bloke sat in front of me. (he’s not pictured below!).
I tried to get a couple of videos on my camera, unfortunately when I tried the battery low indicator came on. So the first two videos are shorter than I would have liked, especially the anthem, as it was just getting going when I had to stop,