With the Rugby World Cup currently heading into semi final weekend right here in Aotearoa, New Zealand it seems timely that I discuss a common reason for travel and that’s to head away for a sporting occasion.
My experience with travelling for sporting reasons has predominately been for rugby. During my younger years I went on several trips within New Zealand for netball and rugby tournaments. But being a huge rugby and All Blacks fan, it was inevitable that I would make a trip to support them whenever I could.
Christchurch is my closest town, 30 minutes from where I live and seeing the All Blacks play there is always a grand event. However, travelling around the UK and Europe for a Grand Slam tour is number 1 on my sporting trip bucket list, attending an Olympic Games a close 2nd!
A Grand Slam tour is one in which a touring national team from New Zealand, South Africa or Australia plays Test matches against the four Home Nations of theBritish Isles: England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. If the tourists win all four games, they are said to have achieved a grand slam. Wins against all four Home Nations in the same tour have been achieved South Africa (4 times), New Zealand (4) and Australia (1).
I came close once, when I was living in London in 2004, my Dad came over and some of my friends joined us and we travelled to Rome, Cardiff, Paris and London for the ABs games v Italy, Wales, France and the Barbarians.
By far the best match was against Wales for several reasons. Wales are as crazy about rugby as Kiwi’s are and for that reason the banter and analysing of the game with the locals was top notch! Millenium Stadium is a must see, with the singing and cheering at an all time deafening roar due to the covered top. Even better is the short stroll to the numerous pubs and clubs, over flowing with beer, people and rugby tales. But what truly made the experience in 2004 was that the All Blacks only won by 1 point, 26-25! The game was nail biting and the atmosphere electric. What made me a Welsh fan for life was that even though they lost, every Welshman that we spoke to after the game was so pleased to come so close and such fans of the All Blacks, that they would buy us a beer and sit and talk rugby with us anyway. Does it get any better?
Well maybe it does, having a chat with Richie wasn’t too bad either!
For the record-I’m picking a Wales v All Blacks World Cup final next weekend? How about you? I would love to hear where you have travelled to for a sporting event as well. Please feel free to comment!