Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Not as Bad as I Feared

I know that the USA rugby team is outmatched by the Irish and NZ teams, even when they are sending their "A" sides (what Americans would probably call the "B" team, since they are secondary squads). Still, I feared that we'd be blown out by Ireland. Instead, the Eagles did better than I thought they would, and even led for a few minutes when they got the first score three minutes into the match with a penalty goal. Still, Ireland are a better team, and they won, 28-13.

I got there very early, before the gates opened. Ticketing was general admission, with a regular GA outside the 22-meter lines and "prime" GA between them. I elected to sit near the five-meter line at the north end of the station, on the grounds that if I'm going to be outside the center of the field, I might as well see half of the game very well. And that's about what I saw, including several line outs and scrums right in front of me. On one play, a ball kicked out of bounds landed two people to my left, and the guy muffed it and got booed. I don't know if I would have done any better. (Unlike baseball and arena football, you have to throw the ball back onto the field.) I got to see one play that would have been a try for the USA except that there was a forward pass (not allowed in rugby). Many USA supporters booed the call, but I was looking right at it and the ref got it right. I said as it happened, "That looks forward," and initially though the referee didn't see it.

I spoke to cherylmorgan before the game and also at halftime and after the game. She was watching, as the game was being carried live in the UK. (She said that they didn't do any crowd shots where she could pick me out.) According to her, Ireland should have by rights played the last quarter of the game a man short, as one of their players who had already received a yellow card was involved in a stomping incident (stomping an opposing players' head) that the commentators reckoned should have been either a straight red or a second yellow -- in either case, it would have been a sending-off -- but the ref didn't call it.

There were probably as many Ireland partisans in the crowd as USA supporters, and I suppose there might have been something like 5,000 people there. The stands were not completely full at the far ends, but there was a pretty good crowd for a rugby match in the USA.

Before they started letting people into the park, I could hear them testing the sound system, and I heard them play Ireland's Call with the vocals. I was therefore taken by surprise when they played an instrumental-only version of it (followed by the US anthem) before the game. That's a waste, and moreover, because I didn't realize what was up until too late, I didn't sing -- I know both anthems. Boo, hiss!

Before the match, I saw that there were people from MediaZone people around handing out promotional material for the service, which provides downloads of rugby and other sports. I recognized Matt Brown, who writes their rugby analysis and previews and was one of the members of the now-defunct Rugby Club coverage team for Fox Sports World. I went up and introduced myself to him and shook his hand and told him how much I appreciated his work and had liked the Rugby Club. He was a very nice guy and took a couple of minutes to talk with me. I asked "Brownie" what happened to all of the memorabilia that the Rugby Club had accumulated. (Every week they had visitors, usually rugby teams, and teams would bring gifts that decorated the set, the set being set up to look like a sports pub.) He explained that the set belongs to Fox Sports in Los Angeles and is still used today for their soccer coverage; however, the producer of Rugby Club saved the memorabilia. He also confirmed that Fox Sports World Report is produced in Winnipeg (although you wouldn't know it from watching it). I said, that it seemed to me that the Winnipeg bunch didn't exactly agree with the decision to drop all of the non-round-ball coverage from Fox Sports World and to change it to Fox Soccer Channel.

After the match, I took my time leaving. Seeing the huge line of cars trying to get out of the parking garage, I instead walked over to the Santa Clara Caltrain station and bought a smoothie from one of the shops next to it. After finishing that, I figured the traffic would have subsided, and I slowly made my way back to the parking garage. As it happens, Brownie was driving out of the reserved lot as I came by, and he gave me a friendly wave.

It was very warm and sunny today, with no cloud at all. I was slathered in sunscreen. I hope it worked. Cheryl, who was also watching the other pool match being played in the rain in Toronto, said that today's game was a great advertisement for California tourism.

I'm looking forward to the next two matches.
Tags: rugby

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