Welcome to Rhino World

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The main event

Last week (Friday), as I have mentioned in this blog, I accomplished a first: attend a cricket match. Of course, mother nature decided to end the party prematurely but another opportunity to accomplish something for the first time presented itself again yesterday.

As a reward for my work as an International Student Ambassador at Leeds Met (which I haven’t had enough of but that’s another story), I was provided the opportunity to attend a rugby match last night. The Leeds Rhinos were hosting the Wigan Warriors in a Super League match (The Super League being rugby league. A professor at Leeds Met explained to me the differences between rugby union and rugby league, which I quickly forgot).

Although I don’t pay any attention to rugby (league or union), it’s obvious when the Rhinos are hosting a match because Headingley is buzzing with blue-clad fans packing bars and restaurants during the late afternoons/early evenings (The rugby ground is next to the cricket ground – but I had never entered the seats of the rugby ground). Of course, Rhinos fans have good reason to be excited – their team is currently at the top of table.

The match program

The match program

Not what I was expecting...

Not what I was expecting…

But before the match, I had forgotten something important – well, if not important something worth remembering: I was invited to spend time in an executive suite. Just like in many American sports stadiums, Carnegie Stadium has executive suites – although not as many as bigger stadiums. I quickly realized something wasn’t right on my part when I saw the others (I attended the match with several other International Student Ambassadors) dressed in appropriate business attire when I was rocking a purple hoodie.

So I really felt a bit out of place while in the executive suite. Sure there were a couple of others in the executive suite who were dressed casually (including a dude in a Leeds Rhinos jersey) but as expected, such a locale is the setting for lots of whining and dining. As for the food, the good news: a vegetarian option was provided. The bad news: it was rather mediocre. However, the chance to chat with a bunch a folks I hadn’t seen in a long time more than compensated for the average food.

Once we finished eating, we occupied two rows of the Carnegie Stand, located behind one of the goal posts and opposite the away supporters. Although we were sitting relatively close to the roof (all seats in the rugby ground are covered by a roof), I was clearly able to make out all of the uniform numbers. Speaking of spectators, I wonder where do those who arrive by car park? Unlike most American stadiums, there seems to be little parking near the ground. Which is great because spectators are encouraged to come by public transit and several bus routes stop in front of the stadium.

Me and my ticket

Me and my ticket

It was sunny when the match started...

It was sunny when the match started…

As for the actual match, don’t ask me any questions about tactics or strategy (Tom – the person who invited us – did explain to me the strategy a bit). The most important thing was that a spirited crowd of 18,139 (the Rhinos’ biggest crowd of the year) willed the home side to a 28-12 victory 🙂

Despite not really being able to explain what happened at all, I enjoyed the match. It helped the Rhinos were pretty much in control the whole way. Unfortunately, I felt a bit cold during the second half (The hoodie didn’t seem to be doing much good) but the second 40 minutes seemed to go by faster. Rugby matches are comprised of two 40-minute halves and while there are more stoppages in rugby than football (By “football,” I’m referring to the sport of Chelsea, Manchester United, etc.), a rugby match seems to flow pretty quickly.

Closer to us....

Closer to us….

Post-match goodies

Post-match goodies

Several of us after the match...

Several of us after the match…

One of the most remarkable things about the evening was the… food. Although my vegetarian option was rather unremarkable, I didn’t leave the stadium starving. At halftime, cake was available for everyone in the executive suite (Not the most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever had but it was good). Better yet, when we returned to our table after the final whistle, a plate of cheese was waiting for us. Cheese and biscuits 🙂 So if I have money to waste on a sporting event, chilling in an executive suite is not a bad option.

UPDATED: This morning, I completed the 5 km in my customary ParkRun in 17:09 – which is a very good time for me because it’s just off my personal record. The bad news is… I was so close to setting a personal record (17:06). When I ran 17:06, I thought I would then go under seventeen minutes shortly thereafter. Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet. But supposedly, a bunch of people ran relatively fast times today. The weather is getting slightly warmer which will hopefully mean better times in the ParkRun for me 🙂

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