England v New Zealand, Twickenham, London, November 2006
“Remember, remember, the fifth of November”. Apart from the obvious, this day also marked the completion and execution of secret infiltration plan known in our flat as ‘Operation Moley Mole’. Now England playing the All Blacks at Twickenham - HQ as the English call it - is always a dramatic affair, but this day was even more special for them because it was the first game in the stadium since the top tier had been completely finished, and the South Stand was emclosed. It was now a huge fortress that could now hold 82,000 people, and the hosts wanted a win to mark the opening. For Fi & I it was our first Test Match at Twickenham, and we had amazing seats - seats we jokingly called ‘The Prime Minister’s seats’: front of top tier on the Eastern side, right on the halfway line. How did you get these seats you may ask? Well, my better half had just spent 3 months working across the road, under deep cover in the Rugby Football Union. She had spent that time touring around all the rugby regions of England, training various club reps in how to use a fancy new online registration and team management tool (given their relationship, this was probably so the RFU could spy on the clubs, who knows). She met rugger types from all over, and they loved the Kiwi lass showing up, rather than some stuffed shirt Twickers type. She said the odd thing was though, was that a lot of the admin staff at the RFU weren’t that into rugby, and ‘I think I can get us tickets’. Sweet. So, for about 60 quid a pop we were sitting amongst The Chosen with a premier view. For the telecast the whole east side had white and red cards under the seats, so that (on queue) we could all hold them aloft to fashion a massive St. George Cross. If you could ever see those proud images you will notice to very black pixels in the middle of that jingoistic fervour - Fi & I had picked up two free All Black ‘TRY’ signs walking to the ground, and we sabotaged that mofo! So, we settled in pre-game, with our plastic flute of Champers (darling) and a salmon filo parcel, talking to the folks around us. They were lovey. Rugby fans, and keen to know why we were in amongst them. Strangest convo was with a couple of Yorkshiremen a couple of seats down (also there on ‘acquired’ tickets): they had been out to NZ for the 2005 Lions Tour and had a ball. When they learned we were from Palmy North, they lit up and said “That was the best stop of the whole tour! What a night out!”. Now, the Lions did beat Manawatu 99-0, but what the hell did they get up to in a lap around The Square?! The game? True fireworks! We ended up dealing to England 41-20 - at the time their record margin of defeat on English soil. Dan Carter was sublime, scoring 26 points including a try in his man of the match performance. Hoo-rah! What a game, old thing! Pip pip! “In yoooooouurrrrr ooooooown back yard!”, Quite pleased with that. Then to cap it all off, the RFU had spent about 100,000 pounds getting Girls Aloud to play… but after the game. However, following such a comprehensive loss, all the home fans emptied out, and no one watched. Daft. I am not picking Girls Aloud though. No, since this match was for the Hilary Shield, and they suffered such a mighty fall at home, here’s ‘Hilary’ by The Fall. Any old excuse, eh?