35 Before 35: Attend a world cup rugby match

I’m baaack! I see you’ve all been busy guessing what I’m stitching (those of you who haven’t yet should go here and do so now), and I will put up a new picture for you soon, but right now I would like to talk about rugby.

I had to take a photo of the Newcastle United sign without the horrid adverts!
I had to take a photo of the Newcastle United sign without the horrid adverts!

Number 20 on my 35 before 35 was to attend a world cup rugby match. I thought since it was taking place in England it was an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed! As it turned out, I actually attended three matches – all the ones that were taking place at St James’ Park (Newcastle United FC’s home ground). We got to see South Africa vs Scotland, New Zealand vs Tonga and Samoa vs Scotland. The two Scotland ones had the best atmosphere – so many Scots had come down for it that it was almost like a home game for Scotland! The best match, surprisingly, was Samoa vs Scotland! New Zealand won theirs but were fairly disappointing – obviously they ran all over little Tonga but they didn’t play nearly as well as I was expecting them to. Scotland played terribly against South Africa and thoroughly deserved the beating they got! But Samoa vs Scotland was a fairly even match and definitely the most exciting of the three. In the end Scotland deservedly won – although I was actually torn with that match as if Scotland had lost Japan – who had been doing surprisingly well during the group phase – would have gone through to the next stage. Anyway, enough talking – here are a few photos.

South Africa v Scotland

New Zealand v Tonga

Samoa v Scotland

It wasn’t always that easy to tell what was going on from the stands (especially when we were nowhere near the screen!), but all three matches were great fun to attend and I would definitely do it again!

So, another item off the list. What’s next?

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Wheelchair rugby

Today, we went to see a game of wheelchair rugby.
We first heard that such a thing existed about three years ago, but until now every time we thought about going to see it, the game in Karlsruhe turned out to be on a day that we weren’t actually here. This year, things worked out, and we were able to see a Champion’s League match between Karlsruhe Rebels and Switzerland (I originally thought it was the final, but having just looked at the schedule, I see there are still two more days of games to go).

Wheelchair rugby 1

The basic aim of the game is to score points by driving over the goal line in your wheelchair. There are cones at each end of the line, which you have to drive through. The team defending aims to stop the players on the attacking team from getting to said goal line and driving over it. They can do this by bashing into the opposing team member’s wheelchair, but actual body contact is not allowed.

In the photo below, the person holding the ball has just driven over the line, scoring a goal for his team:

Wheelchair rugby 2

After a goal is scored, the ball is given to the opposing team for a throw in. That team is then in attack and has the chance to try and score a goal. The attacking team has 12 seconds in which to get the ball over the half-way line – if they don’t manage it, they lose possession. The player with the ball is allowed to hold on to it for 10 seconds at a time – after that, they either have to bounce the ball or pass it to a team mate. Fouls are penalised wither with a time out – the player who committed the foul has to sit out wither for a specified length of time or until the opposing team scores a goal (a bit like the sin bin in Rugby Union), or with a “penalty goal”, which basically means the team that was fouled against has a certain length of time to try and score a goal and, during that time, the opposing team cannot defend against them. Other rules are that only three players from the defending team at a time can be in the rectangle in front of the goal line at one time, and attacking players can only stay in that same zone for 10 seconds each.

My pictures aren’t brilliant, but I hope they’re good enough to give you an idea of what’s going on. Here’s one of a member of the Swiss team about to score a goal:

Wheelchair rugby 3

The match we saw started off quite tame – it seemed a little too easy to score a goal, and the Swiss team were clearly inferior, but after a while things picked up a bit, they figured out how to effectively defend against the Rebels and it got a lot more interesting. There was certainly more instances of wheelchairs banging into each other in a manner that reminded me of the dodgems at the funfair!

It wasn’t as violent as I’d been lead to expect from watching YouTube videos, but it was an interesting game to watch and it was quite easy to work out what was going on (definitely an advantage over ordinary rugby!)

Entry to the game cost nothing, so if I’m not busy when there’s another match in Karlsruhe I would certainly consider going along again. There are much worse ways to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon!

Wheelchair rugby 4

Formula 1

Somebody found my blog the other day by googling “Housework fairy Stella”. Who knew she had a name? Or maybe it isn’t a name… perhaps there’s some connection to the beverage producer. Lager, Cidre (it’s NOT cider… apparantly) and housework fairies. The possibilities are endless! But anyway… now to return to today’s scheduled programming…

So, let us go back in time to the weekend of 20-22 July 2012. We had tickets for the Formula 1 weekend at the Hockenheim Ring. Not because I’m a particular fan of fast cars driving around in circles (ok, funny shaped circles then), but because it turne out to be a good way to get my sister to actually visit me! We decided not to go on the Friday – even Ms. hardcore Formula 1 fan herself (the sister) didn’t think there was a huge amount of point in watching the practice – but we decided to go along on the Saturday, watch the qualifying, check out our seats and find out what (if anything) you were allowed to take in with you. We took a bottle of water and made sandwiches and it was no problem whatsoever. Suck on THAT football stadiums who refust to let me bring in my bottle of tap water, but also refuse to sell me any that isn’t carbonated. Yuk!

First impression of Formula 1: It is LOUD!! If you ever find yourself attending a race, take their warnings about ear protection seriously! We were very glad of ours. There was actually a running commentary being played via the loudspekaers the entire time we were at the qualiying, but we didn’t figure that out until the break between rounds one and two. All you can hear is Vrrrroooooooom, Vrrooooooooom, Vvvrrrrrrroomm… and that’s with earplugs in! It was also incredibly difficult to follow what was actually going on. Well, for Jan and I especially seeing as we didn’t even know who was who. Although I was aware that Sebastian Vettel was driving one of the cars with a Red Bullo logo on the side… because you can’t live in Germany and not know that Vettel drives for Red Bull!! I have to admit though, I had no idea who Schumacher was driving for… luckily my sister’s official programme was able to help with that. The atmospher was great though, and a good time was had by all (despite a good soaking about halfway through!).

The next day we went back again… much earlier this time! For the qualifying we had left the house at about 10:30 a.m. For the actual race we were out of here by 9! And before that there were four people to get breakfasted and showered. It was an early start! This time we took some cans of beer with us – there were signs all over saying no glass bottles, and although nobody was actually checking we decided not to take advantage of their leniency (I just had to look up the spelling of that and it still seems weird to me!). Let me tell you, finding cans of beer in Germany is not that easy! REAL had a choice of about 5 different types! This time we knew exactly where to go for our seats and were settled fairly quickly. Oh, and one interesting thing: this is the only event I’ve ever been to where there was a queue for the men’s toilets! Us girlies were able to walk straight in. It shouldn’t be surprising really considering what sport we were there to watch, but somehow it still was. I was able to follow things a little better than the day before (would still have been completely lost without the screens though.. and even my sister got confused at one point!) and knowing which cars to look out for meant I was able to at least try to get photos of specific drivers. I was aiming for at least one each of Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schuhmacher, maybe one of of Nico Rosberg (since he’s German too and unfortunately overlooked due to being on a team with the way more famous Schumi) and also a couple of the Vodafone McClaren Mercedes drivers for my sister, who loves Hamiltobn for his driving skills but wants to marry Button – apparantly. All in all it was quite an interesting experience, although not one I necessarily need to repeat (especially not at that price!!).

Here are a few of the photos I managed to get.

Qualifying 1 (you can tell it’s the first qualifying cos it hasn’t started raining yet!)
NOW the rain has started!
Race day! – The drivers greet the crowd
Caterham Formula 1 Team of Malaysia

Vettel! The Hockenheim Ring is his home track.
Lewis Hamilton. He actually did pretty badly on the day (failed to finish, in fact), but I thought it would be nice to end with an English driver and I gave you a photo of Button in a previous post.