I went to see the Wallabies play Wales last night at Telstra Stadium. As much as I enjoy the Super 14, you really need cold weather to make it seem like rugby. And the end of May in Sydney is the start of perfect Rugby Weather. And we had great seats ... 7 rows back at the 50m line and surrounded by Welsh fans. Beauty.
The press here has been complaining that the Wales Rugby Union sent the B team (or even the C team) to Australia instead of the A team and had been confidently predicting the Wallabies over Wales by 50.
Guess that they forgot to tell the boys in the red jerseys.
The Welsh side came out fighting and scored two quick tries of some embarrassing Wallabies errors. Ten minutes into the game and the boys in the gold jerseys looked like a bunch of stunned mullets. Why did I have to be sitting in a Wales section? It was the Waratahs v the Brumbies in Canberra all over again!
The Wallabies would fight back but Wales always topped 'em to keep the lead. There was a lot of sloppy Wallabies play. Note to the coaches: someone tell these guys that when the ball is just lying there on the ground, don't just look at it, PICK IT UP AND RUN WITH IT!!
While the Wales fans were yelling and cheering, there was lots of moaning and sad shaking of heads in the Wallabies fans' ranks. You often could hear the sound of an open palm being smacked against the forehead of a Wallabies fan who couldn't believe what they were seeing.
It wasn't looking good for the Aussies and those who were not True Believers had already started leaving the stadium 15 minutes before time. But we real Rugby Tragics stay until it is well and truly over, no matter how bad it looks. And sometimes it looks really bad.
The clock is ticking down the final minute of the game and the score was Australia 22 v Wales 23. Visions of an early Australian departure from the upcoming World Cup and the associated embarrassment flashed through my mind. The switch to lawn bowls was looking better and better. But you would think that after all these years of Rugby Tragic-hood I would learn not to write our boys off so soon.
The full time hooter went and they kept playing because, in rugby, the game doesn't stop until the ball goes into touch (out of bounds). Despite a strong Welsh defence, the Wallabies somehow managed to score a try about 1 minute after full time. Pandemonium erupted in the stadium. I have no voice this morning. But it went for a good cause.
Final score: Wallabies 29 Wales 23.
Full marks to Wales. They played some good strong rugby and really gave the Wallabies a run for their money. 'Onya.
And thanks to my dear friends who SMSed me to rub salt into the wound at full time. You'll keep.