Not only was it my first time watching the All Blacks playing live on Saturday, Max Martin from our home club of Duns was a mascot for the Scotland team and to top it all, my favourite customer, the legend that is Doddie Weir was presenting the match ball. Days don’t get better than this I thought!
I was one of the first through the gates at 3.15pm, a whole two hours before the game was to kick off, and managed to get a glimpse of the Scotland team as they arrived in their bus. The atmosphere even then was electric, so much tartan, even in the bitter cold the hardy Scots were wearing their kilts! Everyone was in high spirits but every Scottish fan I spoke to was of the opinion that we were in for a severe beating by the mighty All Blacks. As the tension mounted, the lights went out in the stadium and we were treated to a spectacular light show with fireworks. Murrayfield was full to the brim, ages ranged from toddlers to pensioners, the sport appeals to all.
The teams then came through the tunnel and there was wee Max from Duns totally dwarfed by the Scotland team second row Jonny Gray, grinning from ear to ear, he knew he was on TV and being watched by millions, how cool is that? To say he had an amazing day is an understatement, he came home with a full kit, signed rugby balls and programmes and most importantly of all selfies with all the players! His Dad and brother Kaylen also met the teams and were overwhelmed by the hospitality they received from the SRU.
With both teams on the pitch and the national anthems over the All Blacks performed their haka and normally the tension is at its highest at this point just before kick off as the anticipation builds. Then out of the tunnel walks Doddie wearing his Pride of Scotland Ancient suit flanked by his sons, Hamish, Angus and Ben, looking equally as smart in their suits and Pride Ancient scarves and ties. And pride was the catchword of the day, the stadium was bursting with pride for this man as they all jumped to their feet in his honour, there was not a dry eye in the house.
The game kicked off and no one would ever have believed that by half time the score would be just 3-3, or that the end result, would be such an agonising narrow loss to the best team in the world. It wasn’t for the want of trying (pardon the pun) our teams played out of their socks and the defeat was cruel, Stuart Hogg walked round the stadium with tears rolling down his cheeks, it so nearly happened.
There are lots of similarities between Scotland and New Zealand, we have similar sizes of population, the Queen is Head of State and we both have farming, forestry and tourism based economies. Three quarters of New Zealanders live on the North Island and parts of the country are as uninhabited as they are in Scotland. One seventh of Kiwis are of Maori descent. The Maoris are like our Scottish clans from tribes or iwi. They are steeped in culture and fiercely proud. Like us Scots,their heritage is extremely important to them. Maoris also have their own language, maori or Te Rao, like gaelic it is not widely spoken and its usage has declined over the last century. The main difference between us is that they are used to winning and we are used to being the underdogs.
Well we didn’t quite beat the All Blacks on Saturday, but in true Scottish fashion we so nearly did! Thousands of people brought together by the game, they love went home after a very memorable day for so many reasons. #asone