And a good evening to you from across the Pond after another GREAT DAY in the Mother Country - and (finally!) an AFD no less! Team Taylor made a pilgrimmage today, FINALLY visiting a spot that's been on the list since February of 2007 - Twickenham Stadium - to experience something on life's to-do list: watch an International Rugby match. I am happy to report that, in NO way shape or form, did this experience disappoint ON ANY FRONT.
So back story here: Muffin and I became rugby fans watching the 6 Nations in 2007. At the time, we honestly didn't know a single rule (and still don't know a lot of them), but we knew that the action was fast, furious, and INTENSE. By the end of the 6 Nations tournament, we were HOOKED. Soon after that, I began the quest to find tickets to an International Match. Let me tell you - that just ain't easy...
For starters, if you're not a) from Britain or b) a member of an existing Rugby club, then you really don't have a shot. You have to "know a guy who works with a dude who's dating a chap who plays darts with a lad" that MIGHT have tickets. In our case, the angel of entrance was the one and only Kristen Henderson.
Kristen's husband is a Rugby official, and this fine gentlemen (whom I now owe MANY beers) was able to score a pair of tickets IN THE LOWER LEVEL for today's match AGAINST AUSTRALIA!!! That's right - Lions vs. Wallabies - does it get any better than this?
Granted, the journey there was a small scale NIGHTMARE, as the trainride gave me a VERY good appreciation for what sardines must feel like during the canning process. Jenny and I had actually purchased pasties (that would be PASTRIES to you folks in the states - no funny ideas...), but we couldn't even move our arms to eat them! However, I'm happy to report that the ovens those puppies were cooked in were NO JOKE, and they were still hot 35 minutes later.
The Stadium was, in a word, INCREDIBLE. Seriously - we're talking 82,500 seats, all covered and ALL with a GREAT view. We walked around the outside (and the inside, for the record), taking in all the monuments, all the sites, all the carnival atmosphere, and enjoying the moment that we'd been thinking about about for so long. And if the pre-game was fun, it was NOTHING to the actual match.
The match starts with a singing of each National Anthem. Australia's was understandably quiet, but when "God Save the Queen" came on, it was AMAZING. Seriously - the noise was DEAFENING, and it put the crowd in the mood. And speaking of the crowd, they were GREAT.
Here's how it works:
1. England makes a charge and goes into a scrum - crowd yells "HEAVE!!!!"
2. England makes a mistake - f-bombs fly like bullets out of an uzi
3. Australia gets hit for a loss and stalls - crowd starts singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" - REPEATEDLY (side note: seriously? SERIOUSLY? WHY? But I gotta admit - it was AWESOME...)
4. England scores - dude in front of me stands up, looks at some Aussies nearby, and screams (totally off-key, for the record) "Who'll come a waltzing, Matilda, my darlin'...."
5. Kicker for Australia lines up to take a kick and takes over a minute - crowd boos
6. PA Guy reminds fans to "be respectful of kickers on both sides" - crowd boos louder
7. Kicker for Australia takes another kick and takes over a minute - crowd boos like he's Hitler
8. Australia gets ANOTHER chance to kick and young girl beside me (with a dude twice her age) yells "He's a @#$#ing prick!!!!"
9. Older lady who didn't make a sound all game looks back at young girl and stares daggers at her as if she were Stalin
10. England then gets a line out and the dude behind me (WHO IS A BIG BOY AND IS NOT WEARING A SHIRT - ONLY A VIKING HAT) yells "Come on, laaaaaaaads!!!!!"
11. England scores a try (like a touchdown) and people dance whilst the medic attends to all the broken bodies on the field (note: they do NOT stop for injuries - the trainer works on this guy IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ACTION - it's like a scene from "Band of Brothers")
Rinse repeat for TWO HOURS
In the end, England played FANTASTIC (best match I've ever seen 'em play) and pulled out the victory 35-18. Honestly, it was SO THRILLING from start to finish, and TONS of action happened right in front of us (Kristen - you and Paul rock the party that rocks the pinata - those seats were AMAZING!!!!!).
We then made the walk back through Twickenham town and Kew, arriving at Richmond around 6 PM and going in for some Thai food (So GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD - peppy cheekies). After that it was a train home, and we're now back at the flat, enjoying a (much needed) night in.
All in all, today was one of THE COOLEST things we've done over here - I am SO addicted now. Kristen and Paul - thanks again SO MUCH!!!! You guys are EXTRA AWESOME - enjoy the Heart of Dixie!
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny