Saturday, April 26, 2008

April 4th, I accept Canberra

April 4th Afternoon, I accept Canberra as my final destination.

Sometimes you have to look at a situation, accept the facts and go with plan B. My bike was grievously broken. This was not a part that could easily be replaced nor fixed. I ride a very large frame and the chance that one would be easily available in Canberra were slim to nil, besides, I have no desire to make a $1000 to $2000 purchase under duress. It just wasn’t worth the cost. Either way I had a wedding to go to and needed a place to keep my bike while I went to Melbourne the next week to: A. Go to Lat’s wedding. B. Hike Wilson’s Promontory and C. Go to Jonnos 30th birthday party. The hostel I planned to stay at had no place to secure my bike and thus I called up Frank Stone to call in a favor for me through the IFR (international fraternity of rowers) Fortunately a background in this sport breeds uncommon camaraderie among aficionados and I suspected that Frank might know a coach in Canberra who might be willing to let me put my broken bike and bags in one of the boat sheds. He did. His name was Ross Ford, and in typical aussie/rower fashion was more than willing to help, picking me up, taking me to the sheds and then offering me a ticket with him to the Rugby Union game that night.

April 4th Evening, Rugby Union. Canberra Brumbys vs. The Waikato Chiefs (NZ)

I will qualify this by saying that it would be hard to classify me as a sports fan. Despite growing up in the states I have absolutely no affinity to baseball, basketball, or football (however, I am a fair weather fan of the Sea Hawks) For the most part I find them pretty dull and hard to watch. Rugby is a different story. It doesn’t stop. These large and largely unpadded men beat the tar out of each other and keep the ball in play in a poetic madness that kept my eyes focused on the field. "Footie" is the generic term given to Australian Rules Football, Rugby League and Rugby Union. These games would best be described to Americans as various mixes of soccer, football and hockey, and in my humble opinion are more fun to watch as the ball, like the hockey puck, is almost always in play and stoppages are kept to a minimum. The footie I was watching that night was Union, this differentiated from League in number of players (15 to 13) and is considered the most pure form of the game, as league developed roughly 100 years ago as the working mans professional game. These days all the players of both codes are professional, the only differences being the number of players and variations in the rules. Ross provided running commentary filling me in on the particulars and the specific skills, and towards the end of the game I could began to see the art within it. It was a little disappointing as Rose’s team; the Brumby's were being run all over the field by the crisp plays of the Chiefs. For someone use to the hard hits and pads of American Football it is incredible to see men o similar size and strength take the same effort out of each other with out the protection of pads. Perhaps most satisfying was the Brumby's final effort for one last goal despite being several goals behind. In many sports a complete rout will result in a visible lack of effort in the waning seconds of the game. No so for the Bumby's who battled the final minute of play on the goal line finally scoring one more. It felt good to see the physical manifestation of pride out on the pitch. A great end to what really could have been a most depressing day. But for now I have a plain to catch and a wedding to go to.

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