OPINION: Reporter Taryn Utiger has not been to a rugby game since she was 10 years old, so the Taranaki Daily News sent her along to find out what an All Blacks test match is like for a novice.
One piece of advice my partner gave me before I set off to the rugby was to go to the bathroom before I arrived.
Like most women at the game I forgot this pearl of wisdom and spent my first 15 minutes at Yarrow Stadium squirming and waiting in line for a toilet.
I hadn't attended a rugby game since Taranaki's Ranfurly Shield match against North Harbour, which I went to as a 10-year-old.
When I finally got to my seat, I looked up to see Sir Colin Meads making his way to the seat directly in front of me.
Even I know Sir Colin is more legendary than Richie McCaw.
I didn't have to wait long to chat to Pinetree. He was sitting on the end of the row and Sport Taranaki boss Howie Tamati needed to get to his seat, so Sir Colin stood up to let him in.
"Sorry for blocking your view dear," he said.
I told him I didn't mind and then sent my boyfriend a text message.
"I'm watching rugby with Sir Colin Meads," it said.
"Ask him how many runs a penalty kick is worth," he replied.
My witty response was interrupted by the national anthems, which had me feeling comfortable as I knew what was happening.
But the security rug was pulled out from beneath me when the haka started. Ka Mate was the haka of my childhood but the All Blacks performed a different one on Saturday night.
That disappointment was replaced by shock two minutes into the game when a French player was injured and taken off the field, blood dripping down his face.
Minutes later his side scored the first points of the match and the crowd booed the French for their field goal, which I thought was bad form.
After the All Blacks got some points, Mexican waves and cheering really got going.
Even the people watching from their backyards on Maratahu St seemed to be enjoying the atmosphere.
I thought the game was uneventful and far less exciting than my previous rugby experience, though.
With the exception of the No 5 player from France getting yellow-carded and Dan Carter losing a shoe, I was left thinking Sir Colin Meads would be the highlight of the evening for me.
That was until our boy Beauden Barrett came on.
As Beaudy leapt onto the field with fresh legs and a fire in his stride, I was swept up in rugby fever.
Those last minutes were the best of the game and when the Taranaki lad scored the try everyone jumped to their feet and cheered.
Beaudy certainly cemented his place in the hearts of those of us who are Taranaki-proud - even the ones who don't know much about rugby.
- Taranaki Daily News
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