A Sydney Uni Fan Discovers The Force - and likes it (almost)

The view from the not-so-cheap seats in Perth
Sydney University Rugby fan and Rolling Maul contributor Cricket Blogger ventured out from his new Perth residence to watch the Western Force at the old East Perth Ground last weekend for the first time. He was in turn shocked and pleasantly surprised by what he found, especially when it came to food (and Tom Carter).

As a rugby tragic it is a tough life in this "tight shorts and singlet" dominated town. Blogger and a visiting Sydney Uni Rugby Club fan warmed up by trying to find a pub that was showing the Waratahs vs Highlanders game. After a 4 pub search success of sorts was found. Around one small TV in a corner of the Inglewood Hotel were clustered a group of rugby tragics trying to satisfy their addiction. The big screen seemed to be focused on a strange game between two teams called cats and hawks.

“After recovering from the hour long trek in search of Perth’s version of rugby heaven by consuming glasses of liquid expelled by native birdlife (Swans, Emus) we watched that legend of centres score a hat trick of tries.  Watching ‘a forward in backs clothing’ score a hat trick is a very rare occurrence, a bit like the Waratahs playing and winning pretty!  Last time I saw a similar performance was the occasion when Tom Carter scored his 500th point for Sydney Uni in a game against Eastwood that had the scoreline at one time of 74-7!  After the game we quizzed Tommie and he confirmed that the 500 points constituted 100 tries and no goals!

“Meanwhile back at the Super Rugby, we quickly walked the streets of Perth after the Waratahs wrapped up another win in front of a rapidly diminishing crowd at the SFS.  The differences between the SFS and the NIB Stadium were quickly apparent.

“Firstly, the food choices are excellent and generally edible (for a footy ground) and the ground is a suburban ground that consists of one very small stand and the rest comprises temporary corporate boxes on stilts (quite comfortable and offer a unique view down the ground) and temporary seating over the rest of the ground.  The joy of this ground is that you are very close to the action and you can almost feel the tackles.  It is probably the closest you will get to Club Rugby at a Super Rugby ground.

“The ground capacity is not high but I would suggest that they probably had a larger crowd in Perth than at the SFS.  They are unlike Waratahs fans in that the locals wear their Force colours with pride and they seem to actually like their local team.  Admitting that you are from the "Eastern states" is not something that you mention in polite company over here; apparently we don't understand the Western Australians.  On that note they are completely correct. AFL is everything bad about Rugby (fumbling, bumbling, weak tackles and too much kicking), ‘losing’ ugly and still supporting your team is acceptable, and coffee is more than $4 so when you buy a beer too and get change from a tenner you feel like you have won the lottery! But at least in the confines of NIB stadium the enthusiasm for rugby is real.

But back to the food - there are a plethora of stalls around the outside of the stands. You can choose from the usual stadium fare of burgers and chips, but they also offer pizzas (a Franchise Boys pizza - we made a bad choice all crust, tomato and little else), baked potatoes, doner kebabs (bit strange selling these before pub closing time but tasty all the same), strange African pastry stuffed dishes (fantastic), traditional South African BBQ and Bratwurst (excellent).  As a watching and dining experience the NIB Stadium wins hands down.

Oh the Reds won on the bell with a try right in front of us. I guess they like the stadium too!