Lions versus Blues

The British and Irish Lions play the Blues in Auckland tonight.

The Lions team that runs onto Eden Park will be a bit of an unknown quantity. This will be a challenge for them, they will want to get a tough game under their belts.

The Blues have had a mixed season and could do anything.

I’m not on Sky and won’t pay an exorbitant amount for Fanpass so will just keep an eye on the game progress online.

There has been a shower of run recently (it could still be raining) so it will be a slippery evening.

HALFTIME: 12-10 to the Blues, sounds like a hard fought game in the wet.

FINAL SCORE: 22-16

NZ Herald: Rugby: Brilliant Blues claim sensational win over British and Irish Lions

What can you say? Typical Blues maybe? There they were, drifting out of the game because their scrum was being destroyed and the Lions were slowly grinding them to defeat and wham, four bits of individual brilliance and they pulled off the most sensational win.

In retrospect the Lions can argue they were hard done by in the Blues’ 22-16 victory. They had a few decisions not go their way, played a bit of rugby and were starting to dominate physically.

But they didn’t nail the door shut and in truth, while they played some rugby, they didn’t play enough.

If nothing else, they looked more organised and willing than they were in Whangarei and while they clearly have a mountain to climb still, there were at least glimpses of what they might be able to do when they have had a few more games together and get their top team on the track.

But the essence of their game remains bump and thump and the question that is going to become louder and louder for the Lions, is where is the x-factor?

The Lions were definitely better than they had been in game one. There was more urgency and accuracy in everything they did and while they didn’t get much beyond playing Warrenball, they didn’t feel they needed to.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Lions, they play the Crusaders this Saturday in Christchurch.

St Patrick’s Day

I’m not Irish and have no Irish connections that I know of so have never gotten in to St Patrick’s Day (Lá Fhéile Pádraig), but if it means something to you, as a proud Irish immigrant or descendant or just like an excuse to have a good time then go for it.

Today’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations have been greatly influenced by those that developed among the Irish diaspora, especially in North America. Until the late 20th century, St Patrick’s Day was often a bigger celebration among the diaspora than it was in Ireland.

A lot of festive days have evolved markedly through international influences – and recently especially through marketing influences.

Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe (Irish traditional music sessions), and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. There are also formal gatherings such as banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. St Patrick’s Day parades began in North America in the 18th century but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century.

The participants generally include marching bands, the military, fire brigades, cultural organizations, charitable organizations, voluntary associations, youth groups, fraternities, and so on. However, over time, many of the parades have become more akin to a carnival. More effort is made to use the Irish language; especially in Ireland, where the week of St Patrick’s Day is “Irish language week”. Recently, famous landmarks have been lit up in green on St Patrick’s Day.

Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day.

No wonder partying on St Patrick’s Day is popular.

Perhaps because of this, drinking alcohol – particularly Irish whiskey, beer or cider – has become an integral part of the celebrations.

The St Patrick’s Day custom of ‘drowning the shamrock’ or ‘wetting the shamrock’ was historically popular, especially in Ireland.At the end of the celebrations, shamrock is put into the bottom of a cup, which is then filled with whiskey, beer or cider. It is then drank as a toast; to St Patrick, to Ireland, or to those present. The shamrock would either be swallowed with the drink, or be taken out and tossed over the shoulder for good luck.

220px-irish_clover

It is claimed that St Patrick used the three leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans. I didn’t know that until now.

Some have described St Patrick’s Day celebrations outside Ireland as displays of “Plastic Paddyness”; where foreigners appropriate and misrepresent Irish culture, claim Irish identity, and enact Irish stereotypes.

That’s not unusual, similar has happened to many celebrations, like Easter and Christmas.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick%27s_Day

Why do Kiwis support “anyone but England”?

Last night’s rugby world cup match between England and Scotland demonstrated strong support for “anyone but England”, in this case Scotland. This is partly support for the underdog, and it partly demonstartes a strong Scottish cultural influence in New Zealand. But there is also a strong English cultural influence in the old colony.

Both Scotland and Ireland get strong support from Kiwis. There are many Kiwis with Scottish and Irish ancestry, but that’s only part of the reason – there is a lot of English ancestry here too. There’s even a few Kiwis who still support maintaining links with the Queen of England.

Why do many Kiwis have little or no support for old mother England?

I really don’t know. And I’m an example of this phenomenon.

On my father’s side of the family my grandmother came from Chelsea, a great grandfather emigrated from Liverpool, and a great grandmother was part of the very English emigration to the Canterbury settlement. But I don’t feel like I have any connection with England apart from a historical curiosity. I don’t feel any empathy with England.

I don’t have any known Scottish or Irish heritage (but my granddaughter has a cool Scottish dad!) – but I would normally side with them over England. I don’t know why.

My mother’s parents came from Wales, arriving in New Zealand a couple of years before she was born. However my Welsh empathy only  amounts to a little more historical curiousity  than my Englishness.

My mild natural support for Wales over England is on about the same scale as my natural wish for Ireland or Scotland to beat England.

What has England done to deserve this? A Kiwi disdain of the English arrogance and self appointed superiority? Many UK immigrants to New Zealand wanted to get away from the English class system, maybe it’s a residual of that feeling. Kiwis are more likely to have a favourite “working class” football team than they are a more toffee rugby club (not me though).

England, we don’t hate you, maybe we just like to feel our independence as Kiwis and “anyone but England” is one way of doing this.