I am very lucky to say that I have spent years interviewing rugby players, working with them and stepping into their homes and personal lives.
I believe that to this day, the only reason I have been able to continue to do this is because throughout my career, I have never based a conversation or question around a player's ability and performance, or facts and stats from their recent games. Never!!
No, instead I prefer to ask: "What did you have for lunch?" "Do you squeeze your toothpaste from the top or bottom?" And my all time favourite: "How’s your mum? It's this approach that bodes nicely when you’re faced with a room full of older, hungrier media reporters, when really all the boys want is un-judgemental, friendly banter.
However, this doesn’t work on the home front, when faced with watching a game with your boyfriend (who’s a rugby agent) and his mates! Especially when someone asks for your opinion on the last penalty awarded, or your thoughts on the last breakdown because, realistically, 'who the ruck knows'!!
Everything You Need to Know About Rugby
Each sport has it’s own language and I don’t want to admit that women can’t speak sport the way men do - NO WAY!! - I believe a female spectator is just as acceptable as a male spectator so therefore I need .... Rugby Chat!
Here are my top pointers:
- Chip in, have an opinion. Simply: give a damn!
- If nothing else, remember that rugby is our nation's sport and it feeds hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders in such a large variety of ways
- Scroll the 'gram!
- Search your partner's favourite player and get his mum's name, his home town and his favourite teammates then during the game, casually drop these in to the conversation
- Get on Twitter! Avid fans give live updates and opinions as the game unfolds - simply copy what they say! @AllBlacks @SuperRugbyNZ are some good starters!
- Say things like: “Oh no, not again!”, “Surely it wasn’t his fault, he had no support!” and “OMG he can tear things up can’t he?” Comments like this make us look like we get it, even if we don't at all
- Learn the history! #101
- While sitting there, read this article http://www.bookshelfboyfriend.com/girls-guide-to-rugby-union/ It gives a great brief outline of the rules and history written simply and clearly for our exact situation!
- Know some cool facts, such as: Touch judges don't actually touch anyone
- You can use the saying ‘Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage' in the most random situations, like loading everyone into a car for example, it’s cute!
- Added girl tip: Never drink cocktails while watching a game! Have a beer instead! If you’re like me and compare a beer to a slice of bread, simply pour your drink of choice into a tumbler - no one will know any difference
- Don’t worry about what you're wearing, instead support the team who’s colour makes you look cute, and just go with it!
- Don’t sit in a pack of only girls! Get everyone to mix in or sit beside a guy you wouldn’t normally talk to and before you know it, with all this great chat, your boy will be calling you over to sit on his knee to watch it with him!
Last, but not least - and this is me talking from experience now - if you’re ever in doubt of what to do or say, think of the player and their individual personality and relate that back to what they're doing on or off the field. This one idea has helped me build so many wonderful relationships with players, coaches and managers as they just want to be assured that you really do care about the player and the sport.
Enjoy the game! Go All Blacks!