This photo set is a bit of a cheat and it’s late! Some are taken with my big camera and some are from my phone. I intended to take over 100 with the big camera but it turns out when you go to Cardiff to watch a Rugby World Cup quarter final there is far too much rugby watching happening to be concerned about photos!
Last Saturday morning, my friend Niamh and I set sail for Cardiff filled with hope and giddiness about Ireland’s forthcoming rugby match. We had meet up in New Zealand to watch Ireland beat Australia in the last World Cup in 2011 and I was looking forward to keeping up our tradition closer to home this time.
Even though the match was the main aim I was still pretty excited about going on the boat. I hadn’t been since I was a teenager and I’m easily excited about going out for a pizza so having a whole weekend away caused me to burst into song every now and again (lucky Niamh!).
Such was my excitement that we braced the chilly morning air to take plenty of boaty type photos.
I became a little obsessed with the little red lighthouse below at Rosslare and Niamh reckoned I might make my quota of 100 photos on that light house alone such was my obsession with it. But the cold won out and we took shelter inside.
The rest of the journey consisted of selfies, watching a replay of Ireland beating France (and re-living those horrible injuries), playing Who is it? (a cheap version of Guess Who) and eating a fry up. Perfection!
Once we made it into Cardiff city it started to feel like we arrived at the hub of the World Cup despite the fact that it is offically hosted by England rather than Wales. Despite having only been there once Cardiff has a familiar feel to it. It’s an easily negotiated city and when your to do list is to watch rugby and soak up the atmosphere the city lends itself to both of those things very well. The huge stadium in the middle of the city has a smaller sister stadium in it’s shadow. The smaller stadium was turned into a Fanzone which allowed fans to gather and watch matches on big screens. The set up was amazing, every representative for the World Cup bowled us over with helpfulness, politeness and generally just knowing their stuff. The whole thing made for a cosy set up filled with buzzing fans (including us!).
Despite only going from the stadium, to fanzone, to food, to the pub, to the train station we managed to spot this lovely little collection of bird houses which I now want to recreate in the garden but that’s another days work!
Back to rugby. I had never been in the Millenium Stadium and it didn’t disappoint. Our seats were right up in the gods, the second row from the back, which meant a great view of the whole pitch with a complementary dose of vertigo!
The thunder of noise that booms from the stadium is shattering. The blasts from a mainly Irish crowd of 72,000 strong is so rousing you think anything is possible. I felt so proud to be Irish and will admit to being a little teary after Ireland’s Call. While I had my niggling doubts the lift from the crowd made me confident that this would be it. Ireland would make history. Being part of a crowd makes you feel like more than a witness, rightly or wrongly you feel part of it. If Ireland made it to the semi finals I was pretty sure it was going to have something to do with Niamh and I being there! Before the match started we were enveloped in sound so load our own roars are inaudible!
Now, unless you live on Skellig Michael, you’ll know that it is Argentina, and not Ireland, who have secured their place in the semi finals. While it hurts to remember it, Ireland lost. Having watched it on the television I have to say the Ireland team look a lot better on screen than they did in the stadium. From our great height the green shapes looked slow, tired and almost frightened to come up to the Argentinians for most of the first half. I was anxiously awaiting half time in the hope that they’d come out a different team. That they did. They played like the determined Irish side we know and love so well and managed to claw their way back to be within a score of Argentina. But the Argentinan players were up to the challenge and in the end their pace left us breathless. Niamh described them as eels slipping past the Irish defense with ease (she’s fierce poetic so she is:). While it was heart-breaking to watch they were by far the better team. Despite the fact that the Argentinian supporters made up, I’d guess, about 15% of the crowd they made their voices well heard. They are amazing fans who manage to jump up and down while swinging their scarves around and it never gets tangled! Skilled really when you think about it! They celebrate with such absolute joy and pride that it’s hard to begrudge them anything. Even a semi-final place. Although that’s still a little hard to say.
All that’s left is for Argentina to go on and beat the Aussies for their deserved place in the final!
As for Ireland we’ll come back in four years time and once again a nation of rugby supporters will all start dreaming again.