On Saturday 5 September, at 7.10pm, amidst a new lockdown plan, political campaigns, uni assignments and figuring out what to send to your new Tinder match, life decided to give New Zealand a bit of a stress reliever. While every other country has gone and gotten Covid-19, NZ is blessed with a great pandemic response, but cursed by that fact that there is no-one else to beat at rugby.
So what if we beat ourselves? Mr. Rugby has dipped his hand into the hat of good ideas and plucked out a goodie: North Island vs South Island - the best interislander, since the boat.
This battle between islands was a regular feature of Kiwi rugby history until 1995, with only a cheeky fundraiser game in 2012 to break the then-17 year drought. The teams are divvied up a bit differently than you would expect. Instead of Highlanders and Crusaders representing the South Island (against the loser teams from the North), the North and South teams are decided from where the player initially started playing, their first provisional team.
So despite the lads and I frothing when we ruined Aaron Smith’s night a few weekends back to get a group photo with the legend himself, we found ourselves throwing a fucking tanty when he scored for the North Island, as he first played for the Manawatū-Whanganui region. Poor guy, the South only went and won the game, without him.
Despite the North Island team having four million fans, more experienced players, home field advantage and five Highlanders playing for them, The Mighty South were not only winning at half time, but came back from a 4-point deficit to win the game SIX MINUTES after the game ENDED. All the North had to do was get the ball and kick it out of the field, but our brilliant lads held onto things for twelve times longer than a dusty breatha lasts in bed. The replay you will undoubtedly see on your timeline is an insane pass from one side of the field to the other, caught by Will “Air” Jordan, who goes on to score the game-winning try.
“Was a fun game to watch… and enjoy with mates, getting on the piss, but that last minute try gave me the adrenaline to finish this whole bloody semester,” said one third-year student. Another anonymous sports-fan reckoned "Bender [Ben Smith] would have won it earlier”.
Although Lockdown 2.0 ensured the ruggers would have no one in the stands watching live, Critic assumed everyone left once they realised Beauden Barrett was playing. The score consisted of five converted tries per team, with the North fucking up and conceding a penalty, and the South pulling through one of the aforementioned tries in aforementioned overtime. Overall, an awesome All Blacks game, even if it was a bit of a bizarre adventure.