OPINION: Rugby fans can be a boorish lot. Take a look at the bloke front and centre in the photo at right. Either he is telling Taranaki halfback Brett Goodin that he's only going to score one try or he is simply being a right rude sod.
I'd pick the latter and although the gesture appears to be all in good humour, an incident happened during Saturday night's Ranfurly Shield match at Yarrow Stadium that wasn't.
A bunch of intoxicated men in the Yarrow Stand toilets refused to let an 8-year-old boy into the urinal because they thought their bursting beer-filled bladders took priority over the young fella's need to relieve himself of his lemonade.
I thought it was shameful. Not one adult stopped to tell these oafs to pull their heads in, literally, and you wouldn't blame the boy, who was dressed from top to tail in amber and black, if he told his mum he didn't want to go back to Yarrow Stadium.
Maybe those Tui swiggers were annoyed the New Plymouth District Council had forgotten to put soap in the dispensers and were dreading the potential consequences of their sudden new found lack of hygiene. Yeah right.
Those couple of small matters aside, I did have to check I was at the right venue on Saturday night.
Chanting, clapping, desperate pleas to "make some bloody tackles" and a buzz that lasted from go to whoa.
This is just not the Taranaki way!
When I was a kid, you used to be able to hear if someone dropped a coin on to the concrete floor of the old stand as hundreds of mostly middle-aged men muttered to the bloke next to them about the inadequacies of the home side's backline.
Thankfully, Taranaki has moved on a fair bit from the mid-980s, although it still amazes me how many people from outside the province still think we have hitching posts for our horses down Devon St.
Still, we've got the Ranfurly Shield and those buggers haven't, not that I think it bothers too many people in the city of sails where sport, or going out to watch it, simply does not pop into their heads these days.
I'm hoping, even close to praying, Taranaki holds on to this piece of wood for a few more games because it's fantastic how many opposition fans turn up to support the challengers.
Tasman's crew of Hammerheads, while being a bit crude and rude, added plenty to the occasion on Saturday night as they out-yelled the Amber Army who weren't short of amber fuel.
I must say, I was as disappointed as the bean counters at the Taranaki Rugby Football Union that only 10,000 turned up to cheer on their boys.
The most common excuse I heard went something like this: "Nah, I'm not going, it's only Tasman. I'll go next week when they play Hawke's Bay."
Well, there almost wasn't a next week, for the shield that is, after Tasman put in such an awesome effort, I almost felt sorry for them at fulltime.
As far as entertainment goes, I don't think you could get better, anywhere in the world.
Some of the passes, runs and skills on display were breathtaking, literally.
Sure, the defence wasn't the best, but rugby doesn't always have to be about who put in the best tackles.
- Taranaki Daily News
Is Ma'a Nonu returning to the Hurricanes ...Related story: Ma'a Nonu's return to Hurricanes confirmed