After a truly wonderful Rugby Union World Cup I was looking forward to a spot of international rugby league, especially as the game was being played at the Olympic Stadium. Stratford is so easy to get to from my neck of the woods and the stadium is stunning.
I’d bought 4 tickets so would have company – Michael is a league fan, we go to the Challenge Cup together and 2 colleagues Martin and Gary are both sports lovers and had been to the World Cup semi-finals and thoroughly enjoyed the heartbreaking England v Kiwis match.
We had great seats nearly on the halfway line, the weather was less than perfect, windy, rainy yet mild. All we needed was a great game of rugby league.
But first we had the national anthems and the Haka. The Kiwis do a very scary looking version of the Haka – they’d received permission to draw their hands across their throats and did so I believe at the end of the ritual!
This is going to be a short ‘episode’ because I’m afraid we didn’t get a great game of rugby. The result tells a big story – England RL 2 New Zealand RL 9 – yes, you read that right! I’ve seen more ‘points’ scored at a football match (I know they’re goals!)
I can’t find statistics for the game other than the obvious – 1 penalty to England – 1 try, 1 conversion, 1 penalty and 1 drop goal to New Zealand. But I’d say the penalty count against England was at least double that of the Kiwis. The Kiwis gained far too much territory through penalties given away.
I have to say England looked off the ball, their decision making was poor and they really didn’t look like scoring a try, although James Graham did look to have scored close to the end of the game – after endless deliberation via the TV Official it was deemed that he hadn’t touched the ball down.
The Kiwis deserved to win – and the sky was amazing!
It was a shame that the game wasn’t a better advert for rugby league, it was also a shame that the crowd of 44,393 (apparently) wasn’t bigger. There was no publicity in and around Stratford when the RWC games were on, a bigger effort was needed.
In spite of the fare on the pitch it was a great afternoon in great company – and an added bonus was meeting Tony a Twitter friend and to be introduced to some other rugby league crazy people – especially Louise – I’m sure we’ll all be seeing each other again.