New Plymouth is a very nice town on the coast with a pretty beach and boardwalk. But since it was pouring, we didn’t get a chance to enjoy that. We still had to trudge through the rain and pick up our tickets from the will-call window, though.
While we were walking downtown, we saw that most of the stores were rooting for the USA rugby team. Nearly all the shops had American flags and red, white and blue streamers hanging in the windows. Maybe they just felt like someone had to cheer for us, because, while there were hordes of Ireland supporters, there were hardly any USA fans. Or maybe they felt like they had to cheer for us, since it was September 11th and all.
The atmosphere before the game was not as crazy or intense as I had pictured it. I was imagining huge tailgates and tents filled with fans drinking beer–a Wisconsin football game, basically. Since there wasn’t much going on outside, we just stayed in our hostel until it was time to go. Then I stuck an American flag out the back of my shirt and we headed out the door.
The game itself was actually quite fun and the rain stopped for most of it. We had standing-room only seats in the north end, so it felt like being in the student section of Camp Randall. We didn’t really know what was going on in the game, so the people standing next to us started explaining everything. The US put up a good fight in the beginning, but we ended up losing 21-10.
Then we went out to the bars with the guys from the game. We had a pretty eclectic group: us, an older gentleman from New Zealand (Roger), a thirty-something Irishman (Dave, who kept complaining that he “got stuck with all the yanks”), and a young US Navy recruit (Adam). All of the bars were absolutely nuts. They were packed full of green-clad Ireland fans singing various songs and celebrating. It really felt like we had actually been transported to Ireland. Luckily, the Irish were all very nice to us. In a couple of the bars, we were the only Americans, but everyone kept coming up and talking to us. We had a really fun group and a great night.
The next day wasn’t quite as fun, but it never is, is it?