Rebel Sport Super 14

Trip Start Aug 11, 2005
Trip End May 22, 2006

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

February 18 - New Plymouth
With tickets to a Super 14 game, we left Taupo with Gerald's fish on ice around 1:30. Less than four hours later, we arrived in New Plymouth. The views at the end of this drive were well worth this little side-trip. To our right, the Tasman Sea sparkled in the sun with its black volcanic beaches. Neat! Neither one of us had seen black beaches before. Approaching New Plymouth allowed us to stare at Mount Egmont, a dormant volcano. Anyone who'd never seen a volcano would instantly recognize this mountain as one. We were feeling a little rushed for time and decided not to take a photo, hoping for clear skies tomorrow. Silly mistake. We knew we didn't have time to drive to it today, but hoped for another clear day tomorrow.
Immediately after checking into the hostel, we walked to the rugby stadium, which was less than two blocks away. Our trip to New Plymouth, admittedly quite a lengthy detour from our main path, gave us the opportunity to see the highest level of professional rugby live and in person. Last September in Cape Town, Jason and Tammy took us to a Stormers rugby game. The Stormers are Cape Town's club team. Jason kept telling me that this rugby was second class to the Super 12 (increased to the Super 14 in 2006) league.
With apologies to Jason & Tammy in Cape Town and Pete & Chris still travelling up the east coast in Australia who all know what the Super 14 is, I'll give everyone a brief explanation. The Rebel Sport Super 14 League is made up of 5 super teams from New Zealand, 4 super teams from Australia, and five super teams from South Africa. They are called super teams as they are made up of the best players from each region's club teams. The league has been running for about ten or twelve years and has teams in three countries that are fanatical about rugby.
The league started in early February and will run late into the southern hemisphere's fall. We have known since our time in South Africa that we would have a chance at catching a game while in NZ, and this is a bit of a tribute to Jason that we are making the trek to New Plymouth to catch the game.
The game we watched was a match between Wellington's team, the Hurricanes, and Perth's expansion team, Western Force. Yup, that's right, Perth's expansion team. Anyone who follows a bit of sports knows exactly what happens to expansion teams. For their first year, they are mostly sacrificial lambs served up on a platter for the benefit of the more experienced teams. Tonight's match was no different. The Hurricanes demolished Western Force 29-5. Western Force's only try happened with only minutes to spare late in the second half. For most of the match, it looked like the Hurricanes would shut out Western Force.
Side note for Jason & Tammy - Although we were allowed to bring a beer to our seats (which is unlike the game in Cape Town where we had to remain in a specific are under the seats) it wasn't the same without having some biltong to chew on!
We are still not quite sure why Wellington's team was playing four hours away in New Plymouth. We think that New Plymouth's club team provides players to the Hurricanes, but we couldn't confirm this. Another possible reason was that NZ's national cricket team was playing against Sri Lanka in Wellington at the Hurricanes home field. Regardless, we came all the way to New Plymouth to catch the match. We don't regret making the trek.

February 19 - New Plymouth to Rotorua
Unfortunately, we awoke to an overcast day and Mt. Egmont wasn't at all visible through the clouds. Oh well, we'll just have to return to New Zealand one day to explore this area.
We were on the road before 10am, wanting to get the five hour drive over with as soon as possible.
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