A Jewish Rebels Fan Walks Into Canberra Stadium – No Joke

This posting is a sequel of sorts to A Melbourne Rebel Fan's International Folly. Now, The Rolling Maul's international correspondent has traveled, out of desperation, to Canberra of all places.
Note: the views contained in this report are those of the writer only and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Rolling Maul, unless they are particularly funny, in which case they were edits made by The Rolling Maul.

Back in October last year, the Super Rugby fixture list was released.  Once again every single Rebels home game was on Friday nights – the Jewish Sabbath.  The club tried to put a spin on it - “It’s Friday night central at AAMI Park”. Woo-bloody-hoo. I wasn’t the only fuming Jewish Rebels fan (yes, the ultimate minority’s minority).

Looking through the away fixture list, I decided travel was the only option but which was the best Saturday night game to attend?  Force?  Nope, it was still in summer – not Rugby enough.  New Zealand?  Dunedin or Waikato the day before Passover.  Nope.  Brisbane or Canberra were the only options.  Well, I’ve never been to Canberra, so that seemed like the go.

The week before the Canberra trip there is a kid’s clinic at the Rebels.  My 7 year old daughter ‘Summer Rules’ (being a Rugby fan I tend to differ) is in the middle age group with Hooker Pat Leafa.  Stations are run by various other Rebels.

The highlight is the passing station with coach “Te”.  In order to pass the ball they are told these instructions: “Hold the Strawberry, dip it in chocolate, and share it with your friends”.  I wonder if that’s what Matt Dunning is coaching the Balmain Rugby Club given such food-inspired coaching lessons seemed to be his Waratahs inspiration given his (former) girth. He probably wasn’t so much into the sharing though.

Laurie Weeks runs the “Crushinator” in the obstacle course. Not sure if that’s suitable for a 7 year old girl.
Yet despite these brushes with Rebels fame and the Rebels mouthguards the kids insisted I buy ($5 from the pharmacy, $20 from the Rebels merchandisers) this was the only Rebel that Summer wanted a photo with…

Overbearing big-headed loudmouth and the Rebels mascot
So on to the trip to Canberra, joined by Summer Rules, first daughter ‘Blankie Girl’(she just won’t take to that Rugby ball the way she clung to that blanket) and 5 year old son ‘I Want Blue Train’ (again, a toy takes precedence over a Rugby ball). This year the plane flight was reasonably uneventful as the Rebels weren’t on our flight.

Arriving in Canberra, we went to the local supermarket and were amazed at the huge range of kosher goods available.  Bread, bagels, dips, meat, and a whole stand of groceries.  Impressive. Must be something about Commonwealth public servants. Maybe the conspiracy is true and we do run the country!

On arrival we looked around Canberra.  First up was the Science Museum Questacon.  In the foyer, there is a Robot who will perform actions or answer questions.  I was surprised by his candid response to my question…

So maybe there’s something to this artificial intelligence business after all, but in hindsight you didn’t need to have a brain the size of a planet to work that one out.

For young kids all Canberra’s other adult attractions were decidedly boring. National Gallery? ‘Peh’. War Memorial? ‘Nope’. Portrait Gallery? ‘Nah’. However, the lesser known Canberra Train Museum was a hit.  This is basically a shed full of loads of old run down carriages and engines. To us adults, junk, but to a 5 year old boy with a fascination for trains, it is heaven. We arrived right on closing time at 3pm, but the ticket guy happily took our money and let us walk around for half an hour.  

Onto the game. We got into the taxi early on Saturday evening. We were unsure if we’d make it because I Want Blue Train spent 90 minutes screaming for his blue train (damn you Thomas) which I’d left in Melbourne. Even when he got into the taxi he told the driver “Train Museum please!”  Nice try.

We arrive. Blue Train has changed his mind and is now excited. Thankfully. We find our seats in the family section. There was not one bad comment against the Rebels. I guess the locals were pretty confident. Or lacked imagination.

Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher were out with the Brumbies while they warmed up. I asked the kids if they wanted to go to the other end of the park to see the Rebels. They weren’t interested. Sigh.  

As an aside – is it just me or does Laurie Fisher look like a White Walker from Game of Thrones?
Spot the difference

Well the game starts, and any hint that a tough tour of South Africa and a long journey back will affect the Brumbies is dispatched in 5 minutes. Brumbies are up by 20 fairly soon, and the game is gone.  

The kids’ mother, on Facebook back in Melbourne, asks “Who is Blue Train cheering for?”  

“Minecraft!” is his response. Glad we brought the iPad! 

In the second half, at least the Rebels get the ball up our end. I start yelling “Go Rebels” and it rubs off on the kids and they start yelling too. Blue Train would actually be yelling “REBEL! REBEL!” for the next few days.  
And I still chose to believe I influenced Steve Walsh on a decision when I yell “Carried back”. Nobody else seemed to care by the 60 minute mark.

The Brumbies mascot comes around and is very nice to us, even as away guests.  Blue Train gives it a kiss on the mouth and gets one back! Gross. No tongue action so probably OK.

The best part of the whole game is to come. It is announced that the crowd will be allowed onto the field at the end of the game. Summer Rules gets to say “Hi” to her new favourite player, Pat Leafa. 

The only Rebels fan doing cartwheels in Canberra
Blue Train gets to play Rugby. He grabs some other kid’s ball and runs 100 meters. Oops. I keep telling him to go up to Phil Kearns and get on TV, but he is only interested in playing rugby by this stage.  For his first ever game, it is a roaring success.

We see Kearnsy after the game. I say “Love your work Phil”, and he says “Thanks Buddy”. I would have talked more, but we were standing at a urinal at the time, and it just didn’t seem right to say any more than that. I assume he knew I was referring to his commentary and not his urinal prowess!

On our way back to Melbourne the next day (“Train Museum please!”) we’re pleased to discover the Rebels are on our flight. Not a very talkative bunch after such a hiding though. We see Pat in the lounge and we tell him that he is Summer’s new favourite player. He is very chuffed. Blue Train waves to Jason Woodward, and unusually for Jason, he walks straight past! Last year he really took time to talk to Summer. 
Then we hear he’s just signed with the Hurricanes, and it makes a bit of sense.

Asking the family if they want to come back to Canberra next year and it is a resounding “YES!”, and not only that, they actually want to go to the Rugby there. And probably the Train Museum too.  

I’m now waiting in anticipation now for the schedule. Let’s hope for some decent home games on Saturday nights. Otherwise I’m thinking it’s anti-semitism!


Anonymous said…
Haha excellent read mate.