Went to see the All Blacks plays Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Scotland had never beaten New Zealand in a rugby union test match, despite 26 attempts in the past - and Saturday was no different. The All Blacks fielded a second string side, giving several players their first cap and holding back superstars like Dan Carter and Richie McCaw until near the end. The New Zealand looked a bit rusty at times, not firing on all cylinders at once.
Scotland spent much of the match camped in the New Zealand half, and had considerable success worrying the All Black scum. The local side took the lead with an early penalty kick. NZ soon responded with a penalty and a well-worked try. There was an exchange of penalties, but after that Scotland never troubled the scoreboard again. The All Blacks managed three further tries in a fitful effort notable for sturdy defensive work and a few moments of luck.
Alas, the match got bogged down with long periods of scrum after scrum after scrum, crushing the life from the game in the second half. The crowd even attempted a Mexican wave to break the boredom, which seemed to galvanise the players back into action. The arrivals of Carter and McCaw kicked things up a gear and I was sorry to see the match end, despite the cold. Happily, a few moments of drizzle were as bad as the weather got, a lucky escape.
Three moments in quick succession proved the most moving. The stadium lights were extinguished and a minute's silence held in remembrance of soldiers past and present, a fly-past by an RAF helicopter underlining the significance of their sacrifices. I don't get to hear the New Zealand anthem that often, so having it big and loud was special. And the All Blacks' haka was a thing to behold in person, powerful, strong and intimidating.
The most bemusing incident came when I bought a plastic bottle of apple juice. The concession stand staff were obliged to remove the plastic top before handing me the beverage, meaning I had to spend the rest of the match taking care not to spill the drink everywhere. Why? Presumably some health and safety regulation was involved. What was I going to do with it, run amok and cause havoc? Let slip the lids of war! Daft. Still, a grand afternoon out.