Where to go on Sunday
As mentioned previously, Trinity College, all day, starting at 9:45 a.m. and continuing into mid-afternoon, a rugby extravaganza known as the Ambassador's Shield, filled with meat pies and Kiwis and high-level rugby, which has to be at least as cool as a game between two flailing NFL teams, right? It is arguably one of the highest levels of rugby played on the East Coast all year. There should be a crowd of about 1,000, plus at least one blogger. The main event kicks off at 1:30.
The event (no admission) will raise thousands of dollars for the rugby team at the Hyde School, which is cool, but the rugby is actually a serious competition, not some exhibition. The New Zealand embassy fields a squad of Kiwi ex-pats (and friends) from all over the States and Canada; this year's players are coming from as far as Southern California and Hawaii and held a training session today. They'll go against the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union's all-star team, which will defend its national title in the U.S. interterritorial championships next month in Florida. The U.S. team has lost to the Kiwis in eight of their nine prior meetings, but recent games have been quite competitive. And this is one of the highlights of MARFU's annual calendar.
"This is the bellwether of if we're playing well," said MARFU assistant (and Aussie native--intrigue!) Cam Dunlop. "If we can compete with the Kiwis, then we're doing well. This is serious. The Kiwis don't like losing, let me tell you, and we're very close."
On the Kiwi side, a former ambassador once told embassy staffers that their job security was not helped by the team's 2003 loss to MARFU. We think he was sort of joking. The new Kiwi ambassador, Roy Ferguson, will be attending his first Ambassador's Shield this weekend. There are several preliminary matches, including one featuring the MARFU development squad against lots of embassy staffers, who "come out of retirement to play this one game, and then afterward they can't walk for a week," explained Kerry Bothwell, a public affairs officer with the embassy. Hyde's team will also play, as will MARFU's women's team.
And, as mentioned previously, there will be authentic Kiwi meat pies made by a guy named "Ram," meat pies being to rugby matches what hot dogs are to baseball games, and which Kerry promises will be "delish." Plus MARFU sells hamburgers and hot dogs, which are to rugby matches what Kiwi meat pies are to baseball games.
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