On Tuesday I saw my first live game of Rugby.
Now readers, I am not going to lie to you. I had barely heard of the Melbourne Rebels before Tuesday. For the record, I had heard about the British-Irish Lions, namely thanks to my rugby mad Irish bestie.
Now before you shout me down and threaten to throw your computer through the nearest open window, let me qualify this by saying the following: I am a Victorian.
Need I say more?
Ok, to add to this, I’m from Melbourne’s Northern suburbs, where quite frankly, there is only one game: Aussie Rules.
I grew up in Collingwood’s breeding ground and was one of the few who survived following another team, in this case the Bombers, due to a father who did not believe in democracy and refused to offer food to any member of the household who did not see the world in black and red.
Ok, so now that we understand each other, please allow me to return to Tuesday’s game.
Armed with my newfound rugby knowledge, courtesy of The Roar’s Elisha Pierce, I joined twenty five thousand others at AAMI stadium to watch what even I could tell, was not the greatest game of rugby ever played.
But readers, this did not matter.
My black and red heart reminds solidly black and red, no matter what is currently being speculated about that particular team in the media. That is not to say that my black and red heart does have a space for some blue.
Rugby in Melbourne is essentially the domain of expats from the Northern states, or those from across the Tasman and Europe. To be honest, it will probably always be a bit of a novelty for those who are from to this great AFL loving State.
But we are the sporting capital of our nation and it is only right that we have a rugby union team here and it is only right that we embrace the game.
The quality of the play may have been lacking on Tuesday night, but the quality of the game itself was clear.
I have seen Rugby Union on TV and I know enough to know that I like it much more than Rugby League. Like most Aussie Rules fans I site that Rugby Union seems to have what looks to be a ruck contest and players, as Elisha kindly explained to me, play the ball, a little like Aussie Rules.
There are also other advantages to Rugby Union. The game is a civilized eighty minutes with a brief twenty minute break. Especially for a school night, it was all over by the very respectable time of 9.30pm.
As much I love a good game of AFL, there is no way around the very big time commitment that it is. Watching this game of Rugby Union was on a par with popping out for a quick manicure as opposed to an hour long facial. Surely this is something that I can find time to do again?
Tuesday’s game may not have shown the Melbourne Rebels in the best light. It may also suggest that any football team with the colours blue and red who have the moniker Melbourne, are possibly a bit useless, but this should not prevent my fellow Victorians from doing more than just taking a passing interest in Rugby Union.
Tuesday night’s game demonstrated that we need to stop treating rugby as a novelty and we need to reclaim some of it from the expats who have seen the light and settled in what is the world’s greatest city.
Rugby Union has the capacity to capture our hearts. Hopefully the Melbourne Rebels will get some good traction from Tuesday’s game and garner some more support from Melbournians.
It is baby steps but Rugby Union in this fierce AFL heartland was the winner on Tuesday night, well along with the British-Irish Lions.
Now, if someone could just tell me who plays Rugby Union for Australia?