We recently went back to Sky Sport after several years without it and this morning I discovered Grassroots Rugby. The first two matches, both in the country, were great – such an antidote to slicked-up Super Rugby razzamatazz.
PioPio played Taupo Sports on a ground that was very basic. A few spectators – family and friends, including rugby wives with baby strollers and a sheepdog on a ute that watched intently while a conversion was being kicked.
Taupo Sports ambled into the arena through a phalanx of tall cocksfoot grass. No grand entrance through a castle keep with fireworks and rearing horses. No cheerleaders. Basic commentary, basic filming.
Commentator one: ”Who scored that?”
“Commentator two: “Think it was someone in a black and white jersey.”
The play was pretty agricultural, with defence particularly lacking. Tries were often scored after long runs with the try scorer weaving at will through the opposition ‘defence’.
Taupo Sports had the measure of the PioPio lads and sauntered home 45-17. Interviewed after the match, the winning captain said the obligatory:
“We knew they were going to be tough today.”
Second game up was in Southland: Woodlands vs Balfour, played on a multipurpose rugby ground. There were some rudimentary permanent buildings that presumably included clubrooms. The paddock looked newly cut – by a haymaking mower. The grass was moderately even, but it was long and looked springy. The ground no doubt reverted to its primary purpose when the sheep returned.
Some of the flavour of it all is in these fuzzy photos, which I took with my phone.